Feds to Withdraw Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Warnings

You’ve probably seen the news – the US Government is soon to remove all warnings about dietary cholesterol and saturated fat being harmful. Does that mean you can have eggs and bacon for breakfast every day and steak for dinner? Yes, sort of, if you chose your eggs, bacon, and beef properly.

Why was cholesterol demonized?

Lets take a look back at history.  Researchers back 40 years ago found that the plaque in arteries, which could cause a heart attack, had LDL cholesterol in them. So the conclusion was made that the LDL cholesterol is what caused plaque and heart attacks.  Then came Pfizer’s Lipitor and other statin drugs to reduce cholesterol and 40 years of cholesterol phobia.

Looking at just one little fact raised my doubts about this logic many years ago – That is over 50% of those people admitted to the ER for heart attacks had normal or low cholesterol levels.  So if high cholesterol caused heart attacks, then you should see very few people with low cholesterol levels having heart attacks, but that really had little to do with it.

If you also look at where the source of cholesterol in your body comes from, it isn’t so much the food you eat, but what your body makes. Cholesterol is a critical molecule in your body and if you reduced cholesterol too low you’d die.  Cholesterol is what most of your hormones, vitamin D, CoQ10, and other necessary compounds are made of.

The real culprit, which was never communicated to the public nor doctors was that it was inflammation in the arteries which oxidized, and damaged, the LDL cholesterol and made it sticky. (Oxidation is what causes a car to rust or an apple to turn brown) When it became damaged and sticky that caused it to form the plaque. So what causes inflammation? simple rule of thumb is almost anything white, so sugar, flour, rice, potatoes, etc. These foods are very quickly converted to glucose in the blood stream and this increased glucose causes the oxidation. One way to identify the bad foods is too look up their glycemic index. This is measure which indicates how quickly a food will raise your blood sugar. 0 means it doesn’t raise blood sugar at all and 100 is eating pure table sugar.  You want to stick to the low glycemic foods which which have a GI of less than 55. (an apple is 39 but a banana is 62. A baked potato is 111). This doesn’t mean that  there are a number of websites which list the GI of different foods. Here is one http://www.glycemicindex.com

Saturated Fat was Demonized too.

Another dietary change which took place a few decades ago also was the reduction of fat in foods. When you reduce or eliminate fat,  sugar was added to make it palatable.  We know sugar isn’t good, but if you tasted a fat free yogurt without sugar, you’d probably never buy it again. People were looking for that “Fat Free” banner on the label, they bought it, and it tasted good, but few turned the carton around and read the ingredients and saw how much sugar was added to make it taste good.

Healthy Omega 6 vs Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) Ratio

You also need the right balance of Omega 6 and 3 fats in your diet. The ideal ratio is 1:1. In the typical western diet that ratio 16:1 so far too much omega 6 EFA. This excess is oxidizing and causes the same oxidation of cholesterol as too much sugar.  Some people will take fish oil, or eat fish to get the healthy omega 3 EFAs, but nobody looks at omega 6.  So where does that excess of omega 6 come from?

Corn and Soy beans cause an excess of omega 6 when fed to animals (including us). So you say “Great I don’t eat corn or soy that often, so I’m good!”  Not so fast. You don’t have to eat the corn and soy, it can also come from what you eat or drink eats. Chickens, cattle, pigs, farm raised salmon, tilapia, shrimp and other farmed animals are fed a diet very high in corn and soy meal. When a cow eats this commercial diet it causes an unhealthy excess of omega 6 EFA in their flesh and milk.

When you eat that steak, egg, or drink a glass of milk you are getting a very unhealthy level of inflammatory omega 6 essential fatty acids. So eating that plate of eggs and bacon or a nice juicy steak is oxidizing that cholesterol and setting you up for a heart attack.  If you buy that Atlantic salmon fillet, look at the ingredients. It will say Salmon & food color added to the feed. Why? Because farm raised salmon, which is fed corn and soy meal, is white, not pink. Does that mean you have to go back to a kale and quinoa diet?  No. Read on.

Where to find Healthy Beef, Fish, Eggs, and Milk

So how do you find beef, fish, eggs, and milk that has a healthy 1:1 ratio of omega 3 & 6 EFAs?  Simple, go to the farm or hop on a boat.  When animals eat what they’ve eaten for thousands of years they’re healthy and when they are healthy you are healthy.  If you lived on a farm you’re cattle would graze on grass in the pasture. Chickens would scratch iStock_000002536169_ExtraSmallthe ground for seeds, grubs, insects, and anything else they can get. Pigs would eat what they could find too.  You could also hop in your boat and head out to sea, or to the lake. Salmon eat krill which gives them their natural pink color, same with other common fish, and shrimp.

Next time you go to the store look for the grass fed beef, milk from grass fed cows, wild caught fish and shrimp, and pasture raised chickens and eggs. Don’t fall for the “Free Range” label on the eggs. They are still fed corn and soy meal, but have access to the outside, but no natural foods there. They are more expensive, but it is worth the price to get real food that is good for you vs cheap unhealthy meats.

Blood Tests for Oxidation

The level of oxidation in your body can change daily based on what you eat and do. There are two tests though which can measure a couple markers of inflammation:

  • CRP – C-Reactive Protein. You want this to be less than 1.0.  They’ll say normal is 1.0 to 3.0, but that is what the average of the population, you want to be better than average!
  • Homocysteine – This is a highly reactive molecule which tears into the artery walls like sandpaper, then if you have oxidized LDL cholesterol it will take hold in these tears. You want this to be less than 9.0 and ideally less than 7.0. B12 and Folate help to lower homocysteine.

Don’t Buy Organic

Well, do buy organic produce, but organic milk, beef, eggs, etc are just fed organic soy and corn. Yes they won’t have hormones  and other additives and far superior to conventionally raised, but they will have far too much of the inflammatory omega 6 EFA and will lead to the oxidation of cholesterol.  Sometimes you can find organic grass fed beef and pasture raised eggs and chickens, then that is the best of the best, but if cattle are roaming the open fields eating the naturally growing grasses, and the fields aren’t being sprayed with pesticides, then you are good. When in season try to find locally raised beef, chicken, and pork where you know the farmer and see the fields.

Summary

There is nothing harmful with cholesterol, it is the oxidation of that harmless cholesterol which makes it deadly. To live a healthy life you can ignore the cholesterol levels, but you must reduce those foods which lead to the oxidation of the cholesterol. So eliminate sugar, flour, rice, bread, potatoes, etc and eat only grass fed beef and milk, pasture raised chickens and eggs, and only fresh caught fish.

 

Sources:

Medical Daily
Washington Post
Omega 3 vs 6 fatty acids

http://www.glycemicindex.com

Nutrients for a Healthy Heart

Cardiovascular and heart disease are the leading cause of death in the United States, leading to 1 in 4deaths among Americans. Unlike some of the other leading causes of death, most cases of heart and cardiovascular disease can be prevented with proper diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes by the individual. Although there are certain hereditary factors involved with heart disease, these too can be overcome with proper attention to nutrition and healthy living. There are a large number of nutrients and supplements that can help prevent heart disease and improve overall cardiovascular health. Most of these reduce the number of free radicals in the bloodstream that can cause damage to heart tissue or they interact with cholesterol to raise the ratio of HDL Cholesterol (good) to LDL Cholesterol (bad).

Antioxidants are substances that bind and eliminate free radicals. Left unchecked, free radicals interact with the DNA of cells and cause cell death or cancer. The cells of the heart are especially susceptible to damage from free radicals, which make antioxidant nutrients a valuable tool in protecting the heart. There are many different classes of antioxidants including some that are our common everyday vitamins. Vitamins A, C and E are among the most potent antioxidants our body uses. Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables along with nuts and seeds are a great way of improving your overall cardiovascular and heart health. Nutrients such as Flavonoids, Lycopene and Lutein are also very strong antioxidants which the body can use to eliminate free radicals.

The other significant way that nutrients can help prevent heart and cardiovascular disease is to shift the percentage of HDL to LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is largely responsible for the buildup of plaque on the inside walls of arteries and veins. This buildup leads to high blood pressure and also can result in a complete blockage. The arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the heart tissue are especially susceptable to blockage. When these arteries become blocked, heart tissue dies. This is commonly called a heart attack or myocardial infarction. Vitamin E, along with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids from fish are invaluable nutrients that keep LDL cholesterol percentages decreased.

There are other nutrients including Niacin, Magnesium and Vitamin B that have been shown to reverse damage already done to the heart and to prevent plaque from building up inside veins and arteries. Potassium is another key nutrient as it helps to lower blood pressure by counteracting sodium in the bloodstream.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables will not only help prevent cardiovascular disease by helping to control an individuals weight, these foods also contain enormous amounts of the vitamins and minerals proven to reduce and prevent heart and cardiovascular disease. Along with oily fish such as salmon and nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables will go a long way in preventing you from becoming one of the 25% of people whose death is caused by cardiovascular disease.

by Peter Sedesex

Vitamin B3 beats Big Pharma’s Zetia cholesterol drug

The utter worthlessness of Big Pharma’s cholesterol drugs was demonstrated recently by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine which showed that niacin (a low-cost B vitamin) out-performs Merck’s drug Zetia for preventing the build-up of arterial plaque, a symptom of cardiovascular disease.

As the study reveals, Zetia failed miserably. Patients taking niacin showed a “significant shrinkage” in artery wall thickness, while those on Zetia showed no such improvement. At the same time, the rate of “cardiovascular events” in the niacin group was only one-fifth that in the Zetia group, demonstrating that niacin is far more effective at preventing heart attacks and other similar events than Zetia.

But curiously, as soon as niacin started to show a real benefit over Zetia, researchers cancelled the study. The premature ending of the clinical trial stopped the process by which even more useful information about the benefits of niacin might have been learned.

5,800% higher price than niacin

Merck, the maker of Zetia, was likely horrified to learn that a low-cost B vitamin out-performed its blockbuster drug. Sales of its Zetia drug are reportedly over $5 billion. It’s no wonder: Zetia sells for as much as $3.89 per pill.

Niacin, on the other hand, costs a few cents per pill.

These price differences make Zetia 5,800% more expensive than niacin. And yet niacin works better.

So if niacin works better, and if modern medicine claims to be serving patients instead of profits, why don’t doctors recommend B vitamins instead of expensive cholesterol drugs? As you have already guessed, the reason is because Zetia earns all kinds of ridiculous profits for Big Pharma and B vitamins don’t.

The fact that doctors continue to prescribe Zetia, in fact, demonstrates how thoroughly our modern medical system has failed to recognize and embrace things that work to help patients rather than things that make the most money for powerful drug companies. If our modern system were actually based on what works, doctors would be prescribing various vitamins, minerals, herbs, superfoods and nutritional supplements (including anti-cancer mushroms).

But no… our system isn’t based on what helps patients. It’s based on what makes the most money, and so patients are put on dangerous (even deadly) pharmaceuticals that can cost 5,800% more than low-cost natural remedies that actually work better!

New study questions effectiveness of popular cholesterol drugs

A widely prescribed and expensive cholesterol drug is not as effective as niacin, a cheap vitamin, in helping to unclog coronary arteries in people already taking statins, the standard medicines used to lower cholesterol, according to a new study.

The research, which appears Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is sending rumbles through the medical community because it is the third recent study to raise questions about the effectiveness of Zetia and its sister drug, Vytorin, highly profitable pharmaceuticals made by Merck & Co.

“This is the third strike,” said Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. “The studies are telling us that it doesn’t appear to produce benefits. This is a drug used by millions of Americans, a very big seller, in a health-care system where costs are a major issue. And the question has to be, is this the right approach?”

Vytorin and Zetia are among the most popular prescription drugs. Last year, physicians in the United States wrote a total of more than 29 million prescriptions for them, and worldwide sales totaled $4.56 billion, according to Merck.

Although the drugs have been shown to reduce cholesterol, there is no evidence that they prevent heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems.

Top Merck executives are vigorously defending their drugs and have dismissed the new research as limited.

“I don’t think a clinician or a doctor or a patient should use this as the basis for any decision-making whatsoever,” said Richard Pasternak, vice president of Merck research laboratories. “I worry that people might unnecessarily come off a drug that is approved and accepted.”

He and other critics said the study appearing Monday involved just 200 patients, was ended early, and examined what is known as a surrogate marker — the amount of plaque on artery walls — rather than evaluating the rate of heart attacks and stroke.

Because plaque can clog arteries and restrict blood flow to the heart and brain, cardiologists view plaque as a good indication for the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The study has been highly anticipated by the medical community and financial analysts, and is the buzz at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, which began Sunday in Orlando.

Introduced in 2002 and 2004 amid heavy direct-to-consumer marketing, Zetia and Vytorin became blockbusters for Merck and Schering-Plough, which had collaborated on their development. The companies recently merged.

But new research has placed the drugs under greater scrutiny and the number of written prescriptions has been slipping, although together they still represent big business for Merck.

Last year, a study released by Merck showed that Zetia did not reduce plaque in arteries compared with patients taking only statins, which are much less expensive and available in generic form. Although released in January, the study had been completed in 2006, prompting a class-action lawsuit alleging that Merck intentionally withheld unfavorable results of a clinical trial. The company paid $41.5 million in August to settle the claims.

Another study published last year showed a potential increase in cancer among patients taking Zetia and Vytorin, compared with those taking only statins.

Taken as a whole, the new research is unnerving, said Harlan Krumholz, a Yale University cardiologist. “The accumulating evidence isn’t giving you any confidence,” he said. “This is a very expensive drug being used without any strong evidence that it’s benefiting patients.” Zetia and Vytorin should be “drugs of last resort, if used at all,” Krumholz said. “And anyone who uses it should make sure patients are informed that they’re taking a gamble.”

Statins, such as Lipitor, have long been used to lower cholesterol and reduce cardiovascular disease. They inhibit the production of LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, often called “bad” cholesterol, which can lead to plaque buildup in arteries.

Zetia, the brand name for ezetimibe, uses a different mechanism. It blocks the absorption of cholesterol from food in the intestines. It has been shown by Merck to lower LDL by 18 percent on average. It is designed for patients who cannot tolerate statins, or for whom high-dose statins are not working.

Vytorin is Zetia combined with a statin, simvastatin, in one pill.

The study released Monday followed about 200 patients who were already taking statins. Some were also given Niaspan, a modified form of Vitamin B, or niacin. The rest took Zetia. Researchers took images of the artery leading to the brain to measure the thickness of the artery walls over 14 months.

The patients who took Niaspan had less plaque in their arteries and also had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL. Known as “good” cholesterol, HDL is believed to remove cholesterol from the arteries and carry it back to the liver, where it is passes from the body.

The patients who took Zetia had more plaque in their arteries but lower levels of LDL. They also had more heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems than the patients taking niacin. Merck President Peter Kim said the fact that Zetia lowers LDL cholesterol makes it valuable. “It’s very well established that lowering LDL saves lives,” he said.

Roger S. Blumenthal, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, criticized the new study in an editorial also published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Blumenthal, who has been a paid speaker for Merck, noted that the new study was halted early, which meant results from 40 percent of the participants were not included in the final analysis.

The study’s author, Allen J. Taylor of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Washington Hospital Center, said the trial ended early because the results were quickly apparent. “It couldn’t be more clear,” Taylor said. “It would have been unreasonable to continue the experiment because the trial had met its objective — niacin is superior to ezetimibe.”

Kim said any conclusions about Zetia and Vytorin should wait until Merck completes a large-scale clinical trial. It involves 15,000 patients and is not expected to yield results until at least 2012.

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