OILS AND FATS
Today most people are aware that oils & fats create blockages in our heart. We also keep hearing words like trans fats (TFA), saturated oils, unsaturated oils, monounsaturated oil, hydrogenated fats (vanaspati), lipids, cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad”, cholesterol, High-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol, very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), triglycerides (TG or TRIG), essential fatty acids, etc., with little or no understanding from all and sundry.
Oil manufacturing companies to sell their produce join the clutter with their misleading advertisements claiming that their product is superior to all others available in the market enticing all of us to consume more and more oils and fats. Medical experts, researchers, nutritionists, keep professing their opinions basing it on the latest research papers that crop up on a regular basis completing the confusion on consumers. This paper will try explaining these medical terms in an easy to understand simple language enabling us to take an informed decision.
The foods that we consume contain oils and fats. Oils and fats, in turn, have cholesterol, triglycerides, and trans fats. Excess cholesterol in our blood leads to the formation of blockages in coronary arteries. Cholesterol, triglycerides that are present in oils and fat, combine with proteins in our body during our metabolism and form LDL, HDL, and VLDL. It is important to note that none of our foodstuffs, including oils and fats, contains LDL, HDL, or VLDL.
Chemically cholesterol is a long chain fatty acid and plays a very significant role in heart ailments. Excess cholesterol in blood builds up the walls of our arteries causing atherosclerosis Cholesterol buildup makes the arteries narrow, blocking the blood flow to the heart muscles eventually leading to heart disease. A normal individual has 130-200 mg of cholesterol per 100 ml of blood serum. Cholesterol increase in our blood serum is mainly due to two reasons. One is through food intake and the other due to its formation in our liver during metabolism. Animal food like meat, fish, eggs, milk, and milk products largely contribute our cholesterol intake.
Vegetables and plant products do not contain cholesterol they are all cholesterol free. Only animal products contain cholesterol. This point is very important to remember as some vegetable oil and non-animal or plant produce manufacturers highlight the absence of cholesterol in their product as a unique selling point (USP) to make higher sales. This ‘zero cholesterol’ promotion by unscrupulous food product manufacturers is only to mislead the consumer to consume more and more of the product they market.
Indiscriminate vegetable oil consumption may not lead to increased cholesterol levels in blood serum, but it can surely increase triglyceride content in blood serum to unacceptable levels. Likewise, nuts like almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, and groundnuts may be free of cholesterol however, they are loaded with triglycerides.
Avoiding animal foods is one the best ways to prevent excess cholesterol in our blood serum. In the case of vegetarians 70 per cent to 80 per cent, of their body cholesterol requirement is from liver manufacturing and the remaining is due to intake of milk and milk products. Consuming skimmed milk is one simple option to reduce cholesterol intake for vegetarians.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance present in our body cells, that is required by our body to make Vitamin D, hormones, etc., and help in the digestion of food. Cholesterol plays a major role in producing body hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, aldosterone, and cortisone. Cholesterol helps the body in producing vitamin D when sun rays fall on our skin surface. Cholesterol produces bile acids, aiding digestion, help absorption of vitamins, in the creation and maintenance of human cell membrane.
The human liver manufactures cholesterol from oils, fats and other foods we consume. The liver produces cholesterol, as much as necessary by our body. However, in some persons, the liver produces cholesterol in much excess. Although the exact reasons for this are unknown, it could also be due to their family genes. Thus, people not consuming any animal product may still have high cholesterol content in their blood and end up in the high-risk category for getting heart disease. In all these cases, an overworking liver is a culprit. Proper control and medication will only be able to keep check of excessive cholesterol levels in the blood.
WHY EXCESS CHOLESTEROL AND TRIGLYCERIDES ARE HARMFUL TO HEART?
Excess lipids like cholesterol, triglycerides, and their sub-products namely LDL & VDL over a period of 20-50 years, deposit on the inner arterial wall of the heart causing Atherosclerosis. This process starts with the White Blood Corpuscles (WBC) in our blood mistaking the various above lipids to be foreign bodies attacking and taking them inside their cell structure. Slowly excess fat keeps increasing within these WBC, forming foam cells, which then sticks to the wall of the heart blood vessels creating blockages. When foam cells lead to more than 80% blockages we call this condition as Angina. When these blockages break the covering membrane, it forms a clot leading to heart attacks.
Dr. Sitaram Dixit
(The author of the article is the Chairman of CGSI.)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of AFTERNOON VOICE and AFTERNOON VOICE does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)