Hubby & I, in a Cholesterol diet contraversy.

Dotty9July 13, 2004

My husband has had 3 heart attacks.(12 years ago).At first,he was fairly careful with his diet, but after all this time,being on cholesterol medication,his cholesterol level has been way down low,right where it should be,and he is not overweight. But the problem is, even though he eats cereals,and roughage,and nuts,fruit and all the healthy things you should be eating to keep your cholesterol level healthy, he thinks,that because his level is down,and he is on medication, this gives him permission to eat full fat ice cream, hot dogs,french fries,chips,and a BLT every week. I thought,that especially if you've had a previous heart attack,you shouldn't be eating those things anymore. Need opinions,thanks.

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"his cholesterol level has been way down low,right where it should be,and he is not overweight. But the problem is, even though he eats cereals,and roughage,and nuts,fruit and all the healthy things you should be eating to keep your cholesterol level healthy, he thinks,that because his level is down,and he is on medication, this gives him permission to eat full fat ice cream, hot dogs,french fries,chips,and a BLT every week"

The medication DOES NOT mean you can eat what you want ... it's IN ADDITION to a good diet. Any ONE of the treats, once a week, is not a problem. But if he's eating them all because he thinks he can do it, he's wrong. Ask his doctor, and read the little insert in the pill bottle.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2004 at 4:36PM
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Lazygardens is right, Dotty. Those foods invite disaster. My dad reversed his heart disease with a strict diet and exercise for many years. But then cholesterol-lowering meds became available, and he started getting a little lax. Nothing major like BLTs and fries, but stuff like Cool Whip on his dessert. Before long, he needed an emergency triple bypass. He was 86! Fortunately, the surgery went well and he lived another four years. But I would add my vote that your husband talk to his doctor. And I hope his doctor knows something about the role of diet in health.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 7:34PM
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I agree that he needs to talk to his doctor, as he is misinformed. Of course, even if he is fully informed, he may not choose to do what's best. Many of us don't.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2004 at 11:21PM
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It's not too surprising that anyone should need an emergency heart bypass from the use of Cool Whip. The major fats used to make this horrible stuff are hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oil. While natural unrefined coconut oil is actually a good fat, hydrogenation of this and other fats into hardened products like margarine and shortening creates trans-fats which are one of the major contributing factors for clogged arteries and heart disease.

It should be no wonder why there is such a large problem with heart disease, since the use of these hydrogenated fats is so common in making the processed foods that are so popular in the marketplace.

If people would become more educated about the existence and dangers of hydrogenated fat in food and started reading labels to check for the presence of these fats, and left products containing them on the shelf, the need for drugs to control cholesterol and heart bypass operations would no longer be so common

Years ago, I used to eat a cereal called Kellogg's Cracklin Oat Bran. I remember that the label mentioned something about eating oat products like this could help lower cholesterol or some similar sounding health claim. Once I found out how bad hydrogenated fats were, I started reading labels, and discovered this cereal and many other food items that I was eating, had various amounts of these fats in them.

Dotty's concern about full fat ice cream should be less of a concern if the ingredients do not list any hydrogenated oils. Many of the fancy flavor ice creams such as Rocky Road are made with ingredients containing this. One brand that I have found that has a variety of flavors without these oils is Ben and Jerry's. The same for chips. A lot of chips are fried in these oils, but you can find many that are not. Bacon does not contain hydrogenated fat, and if you use a good quality bacon and cook it to where it has most of the fat rendered from it, you shouldn't have much of a concern even about fat.

A couple of good websites that discuss cholesterol, trans fats, and heart disease are located here:

The reference to Sally Fallon is about a book that discusses dietary fats and nutrition. She was a speaker at a farm conference I attended this past winter. A lot of what she had to say only confirmed and added to, what I have learned over the last few years about how the health of people is being compromised by the changes that have taken place in the food industry over the past 50 years.

The other website discusses cholesterol and heart disease, and discusses the hazards of trans fats, and why the USDA nutrition guidelines have contributed to an increase in heart disease.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2004 at 12:16AM
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I certainly agree with you about the trans fats, GG, but I have to argue against eating bacon and dairy fats. Back when my dad changed his diet (and saved his life), no one knew about trans fats. In fact, most people had never heard of cholesterol. His doctor, a man ahead of his time, told him to give up all saturated fats, including butter, cheese, ice cream, and fatty meats. My dad was strict about it, and got excellent results. Before he started, he was unable to walk up a gentle ramp without stopping to put nitroglycerine under his tongue. On his new diet, he was able to give up the nitro, ride his bicycle, and play tennis again. His new diet included lots of margarine, which we now know has trans fats.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2004 at 3:15PM
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The thing is, though, 100 years ago people ate saturated fats all the time and didn't have the heart disease we have today. There's a lot of theory floating around that saturated fats in and of themselves in moderation are not bad for you at all, but it's the combination of these fats with processed foods, especially simple carbohydrates, that cause problems. We've been brainwashed for the past 30 years to believe that all fat is bad, when in fact there's a lot of new info coming out all the time on the subject. GG is right, trans fats are one of the worst kinds of fats today and a lot of people aren't even aware they exist.

In addition, food itself only contributes a small part to your total lipid profile. There are a lot of other things at work. Not only that, but plenty of people with great cholesterol profiles have heart attacks, and plenty of people with terrible cholesterol profiles don't. It's important to keep an open mind and understand that not even the experts have all the answers when it comes to heart disease and its causes. We're learning new stuff every day and I think we'll have to rethink some of the conventional wisdom we've come to accept over the past 30 years.

I am on a low carb diet and have lost 30 pounds, am now a size 8. I eat saturated fat in moderation (but no trans fats) and also I eat olive and peanut oils, and healthy nuts like almonds. And my cholesterol profile has improved drastically over what it was before I changed my way of eating. Research backs this up, cholesterol profiles improve when low carbing even with consumption of saturated fats. So we really all should understand that we're learning new things all the time.

One thing that's indisputable though is that we all need to exercise more, no matter what we eat.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2004 at 8:26PM
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Even if he ate the very best diet possible, there is no way of guarantee that he will not have another attack. the medication does not prevent, it merely reduces the chances.

However, you are correct in that the medication does not allow him to eat as he wishes. Perhaps someday you will be able to convince him that if he watches what he eats enough, he can give up the pills.

You don't say how old he is, but if he is about my husband's age, he will not care one whit whether or not he has another attack. My husband would prefer to be comfortable with his food. Sometimes the enjoyment of eating what you like outweighs the danger.

After all is said and done, what it boils down to is that it is HIS health and HIS choice. Sad, but true. It's something a lot of us have to live with.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2004 at 10:45AM
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I agree completely about individuality and all the things we don't yet know. I remember a neighbor of my parents who ate spare ribs several times a week, among other greasy things. He was in his 80s and going strong. I, on the other hand, get little chest pains if I ingest saturated fat. Usually it's something that snuck into a restaurant meal. My doctor insisted that it doesn't work that way...fat causes plaque buildup, which occurs over time. But then one day he had to cancel a test that involved withdrawing some of my blood. When he saw all the fat floating around in it, he was shocked. Everyone is different.

I, too, follow a low-carb lifestyle. It's been nine years now. I lost weight and brought my triglycerides down from 547 to about 100. I eat nuts but avoid dairy fats and meat fats. The good fats I add to my diet are olive oil and grapeseed oil.

My husband and children did beautifully on the vegetarian, high-complex-carb diet that made me gain weight and sent my triglycerides dangerously high.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2004 at 11:01AM
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Thank you ALL so much,for all your input on this subject. My husband just turned 72. I've showed him the posts,that you have put in,and think I am making some headway.

When I shop, I avoid ALL trans fats. I used to use butter. I've heard that margerine isn't good either,as there is an ingredient in it,thats equivelant to Melted plasic.....I've recently started using "Take control",or Benecol. These are No trans fat. I also use a lot of olive oil. Thanks again everyone.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2004 at 1:18PM
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