HEAL TH by Sarah Stacey

The Mail on Sunday - You - - In This Issue - By Sarah Stacey

In last week’s col­umn, car­di­ol­o­gist Dr Aseem Mal­ho­tra made a state­ment that will as­ton­ish many read­ers used to the con­ven­tional wis­dom that choles­terol is an en­emy to our health and we should take every means to lower it. ‘That is plain wrong,’ says Dr Mal­ho­tra, au­thor of The Pioppi

Diet. ‘Choles­terol is our friend.’ Here, he ex­plains why. Choles­terol, a fatty, wax-like sub­stance, is present in every cell in your body and has many vi­tal func­tions: Pro­duc­ing vi­ta­min D, which we need for strong bones. Con­nect­ing brain cells; the links be­tween the nerve cells in our brains are made al­most en­tirely of choles­terol.

Main­tain­ing cell mem­branes, the coat­ing that keeps our cells in­tact.

Help­ing to pro­duce bile acids, which en­able the ab­sorp­tion of fat-sol­u­ble vi­ta­mins.

Pro­duc­ing the sex hor­mones oe­stro­gen, testos­terone and pro­ges­terone. Aid­ing the im­mune sys­tem to fight in­fec­tions. The as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween low-den­sity lipopro­tein (LDL), the so-called ‘bad’ choles­terol, and heart dis­ease is weak. For those older than 60 (when peo­ple are more likely to suf­fer a heart at­tack), there is no link. In fact, the higher your LDL, the less likely you are to die from any cause. This does not ap­ply with fa­mil­ial hy­per­c­holes­tero­laemia, a ge­netic condition that causes high choles­terol.

The large-scale US Fram­ing­ham study, which mon­i­tored three gen­er­a­tions, re­vealed lit­tle dif­fer­ence in choles­terol lev­els be­tween the ma­jor­ity of those who did and did not de­velop heart dis­ease. Fur­ther re­search found that of more than 130,000 pa­tients hos­pi­talised with a heart at­tack, 75 per cent had nor­mal to­tal choles­terol and LDL lev­els.

The most im­por­tant risk fac­tor was meta­bolic syn­drome, which leads to in­flam­ma­tion, the root cause of heart dis­ease. Meta­bolic syn­drome, which is linked to high con­sump­tion of sugar and other car­bo­hy­drates, is di­ag­nosed when a pa­tient has three or more of these con­di­tions:

Type 2 di­a­betes or a pre-di­a­betic state known as im­paired glu­cose tolerance.

Raised blood pres­sure (higher than 140/90mmHg).

Low lev­els of high-den­sity lipopro­tein (HDL), so-called ‘good’ choles­terol.

High triglyc­eride lev­els (the third fat mea­sured in to­tal choles­terol, along with HDL and LDL).

In­creased waist mea­sure­ment (more than 90cm for men and 84cm for women).

Tak­ing statins does not pro­long life in peo­ple who have not had a heart at­tack. Nei­ther does re­duc­ing sat­u­rated fat (found in meat, cream, but­ter, cheese and some plant oils). In one study, pa­tients with heart dis­ease who re­placed sat­u­rated fats with vegetable oils high in omega-6 fats sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced their LDL choles­terol but had in­creased rates of heart at­tacks and death.

You can re­duce your risk of coro­nary artery dis­ease most ef­fec­tively by stop­ping smok­ing, fol­low­ing a Mediter­ranean diet, re­duc­ing stress and tak­ing mod­er­ate ex­er­cise.

The Pioppi Diet: A 21-Day Life­style Plan by Dr Aseem Mal­ho­tra and Donal O’Neill is pub­lished by Pen­guin, price £8.99*

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.