Cultivate the habit of healthy eating – South Coast Herald

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It is holiday season and, unless Covid does a dirty on us, the South Coast will come alive with visitors. Holidays are associated with fun, and eating – especially fast foods – and together time. Most people tend to over-indulge at this time of the year. But perhaps we can still have fun and delicious fare, and health to boot.

In 1998 a study was published by researchers Ilona Staprans and colleagues entitled “Oxidized cholesterol in the diet accelerated the development of aortic atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits” in the journal Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. What they did was to feed two groups of rabbits similar diets with 0,33% cholesterol, but in the study group 5% of the cholesterol was oxidised.

After only 12 weeks the group of rabbits fed in all other ways with the same diet, except for that small percentage of oxidized cholesterol, had a 100% increase in the development of fatty streaks – a sign of early atherosclerosis. You might say that was in rabbits! But unfortunately, pathologists who have the unenviable job of doing post-mortems on young children who die in car accidents in Western countries find similar fatty streaks. It is no wonder that heart disease is the number one killer in the Western world and is rapidly following suit around the world.

What are sources of oxidized cholesterol in the diet. The number one ingredient is eggs, particularly egg powder. Egg yolk is very rich in cholesterol, and when this is subjected to high heat, and light, the cholesterol undergoes oxidation. Evidently the presence of sugar and milk increases that oxidation process. Thus ice-cream, and custard, are right up there at the top of the list.

Fried meat, chicken and fish are also high on the list. Potato chips fried in animal fat are also a rich source, together with pastries and pizzas. I guess the connection between these foods and drive-through restaurants is obvious.

Although fast food joints may be an attractive family outing, the long-term consequences to both ourselves and our children in terms of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, may not be so attractive. Far better to have a diet that is full of whole foods, rich in phytonutrients and fibre.

We need to cultivate the practice of insisting on healthier options when we eat out. I have discovered that one can get a very tasty vegetarian pizza, and in the right season replace the cheese with more avocado if you ask, at some of the pizza restaurants. The more the demand for healthier fare, the more likely businesses will comply. After all they are there to serve you, the customer.

And your health is worth it.

Dr Dave Glass
MBChB, FCOG(SA), Dip IBLM

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