The Tale of Fats, Cancer, and Heart Disease, Part II

About High-Cholesterol Foods

Some kinds of meat, poultry, and fish are fairly low in fat, but high in cholesterol. Fat and cholesterol are not the same thing. When it comes to heart disease, however, both saturated fat and (serum) cholesterol play a role.

Whether cholesterol in food also plays a role in causing cancer is not known. There is some evidence that a low-cholesterol diet will help to prevent cancer. But the amount of evidence is too small for making judgment.

The best course of action is to keep cholesterol intake, as well as fat intake, at a moderate level. It will help your heart and possibly help prevent other diseases, too.

Three types of food are notably high in (dietary) cholesterol:

  1. Eggs (actually, the yolk only)
  2. Organ meats
  3. Shrimp

Of these foods, organ meats are by far the highest in  the cholesterol. Shrimp is only moderately high by comparison.

Most people don’t eat organ meats often, but if you do, you should know these facts:

  • Of organ meats, brains contain the most (dietary) cholesterol
  • Kidneys of any animal and chicken liver come in second for cholesterol content
  • Beef liver, sweetbreads, and heart have less than these others but still quite a bit.

If you are a shrimp-lover, rest assured that a shrimp cocktail carries only a moderate cholesterol count. It is when shrimp is eaten in larger amounts – by the cup – that the cholesterol adds up.

How Many Eggs?

In most diets, eggs supply far more cholesterol than organ meats or shrimp. A good rule of thumb is to limit egg intake to 4 or 5 a week. This is especially important for people who have high blood cholesterol levels or other risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, or obesity.

One easy approach is to use the egg allowance for the usual egg dishes such as scrambled eggs and fried eggs. Then find replacements for the eggs used in casseroles, baking, and other multi-ingredient recipes.

One or more of the following often will successfully replace an egg used in cooking:

  • one and a half to two egg whites
  • one egg white plus one teaspoon of oil
  • one-fourth cup of an egg substitute, preferably one containing no added oil

If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, check with your doctor or dietician before using an egg substitute. None are high in sodium (unless treated with the salt shaker). But these substitutes do have more sodium than eggs.

Fat and Calories

We’ve been   learning a lot about weight control since the turn of this century. I am willing to bet, though, that the bottom line on reducing diets will be the same then as it is now. The best way to diet is to eat less fat.

The explanation is nothing that a first-grader couldn’t understand. Fat has more calories than anything else in food. Take a look the comparison as follow:

  • Protein has 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrate has 4 calories/gram
  • Alcohol has 7 calories/gram
  • F a t  has 9 calories/gram

Little wonder that obesity is common in nations that have high-fat diets. (If you are wondering what a gram of fat looks like, it measures a little less than a quarter of a teaspoon).

The Weight Watchers diet, by the way, contains 30%  of calories from fat, the same figure recommended by the  Committee on Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer.

Eating Less Fat:  Harmful?

Most nutritionists would  laugh if asked this question. For decades, nutritionists have known that the body needs only about 10% of its calories from fat. Let us take a look at the case of American diet, as an example. Their diet averages four times that!

The one warning about cutting back on fat pertains only to infants. Children under one year of age should not be fed a low-fat diet unless ordered by a doctor. The reason is simple: during the first year of life, many infants need the extra calories that fat provides.

This concern about infants aside, scientists stress that there is no known harm to cutting back on fat to the level recommended by the Committee on Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer. Public health experts cannot help but notice that Japanese life expectancy is among the highest in the world. Yet fat intake in Japan is far lower than in other industrialized nations.

Don’t be Fat-phobia

I hope you view these series of article regarding fats, and some diseases deemed to have correlation with fats (serum lipids) , proportionally.

However,  it is fact that fats, saturated fats, dietary cholesterol have their specific roles in maintaining and  enhancing human health. For more comprehensive understanding, I suggest you to read the following  posts:

( The previous story )