Health

High cholesterol: The popular drink that seems harmless but may raise cholesterol levels


High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. A build-up of cholesterol can clog up your arteries, thereby hiking your risk of having a heart attack. One drink could be significantly increasing your levels.

One study published in BMJ, looked at the association of dairy intake with risk of mortality for men and women.

The study involved 168 153 women and 49 602 men without cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline.

The results showed that whole milk intake was significantly associated with higher risks of total mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cancer mortality.

In food substitution analyses, consumption of nuts, legumes, or whole grains instead of dairy foods was associated with a lower mortality, whereas consumption of red and processed meat instead of dairy foods was associated with higher mortality.

“The health effects of dairy could depend on the comparison foods used to replace dairy.

“Slightly higher cancer mortality was non-significantly associated with dairy consumption, but warrants further investigation,” concluded the study.

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The type of fat found in dairy is saturated and, because we eat dairy foods regularly, this can add up. On average, dairy products make up about a quarter of the saturated fat we eat, said the British Heart Foundation.

The health charity added: “We’re all advised to reduce the amount of saturated fat we eat and replace it with unsaturated fat like the kind in vegetable oils, nuts and oily fish.

“There’s also no evidence that we would benefit from eating more dairy products than is currently recommended. 

“As usual when it comes to what you eat, it’s more useful to think about your whole diet than to focus on certain aspects of it.”

In a large study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, LDL was four points higher when people ate about 10 pats of butter than when they ate about three ounces of cheese a day.

However, the researchers reported much bigger differences in LDL when they switched people from butter to polyunsaturated fat (18 points lower), monounsaturated fat (10 points lower), or carbs (seven points lower).

“It’s conceivable that fermentation may mitigate the LDL-raising effect of the palmitic acid in cheese,” said Frank Hu, who chairs the nutrition department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“By how much, it’s hard to know.”

“But that doesn’t exonerate the palmitic acid and other saturated fats in cheese and whole-fat dairy.

“It just means that when it comes to raising LDL, cheese is the lesser of two evils, and they’re both worse than unsaturated fats.”





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