Food industry

  • Saturated fats don’t clog arteries or cause heart disease

    For those who’ve been living in a cave, scientists have this week confirmed that saturated fats don’t cause heart disease or diabetes. The [highlight]real villain all along has been the processed trans fats, including those found in cakes, biscuits and margarine[/highlight], the product promoted as being healthier for our heart.

    Saturated fats don’t cause heart disease or strokes
    Saturated fats-found in butter, milk, meat, salmon and eggs don’t cause heart disease or strokes, and they don’t clog up our arteries, researchers from McMaster University in Canada have confirmed, after studying the results of 12 studies involving more than 339,000 participants.

    Trans fats in margarine, cakes and biscuits can lead to heart disease and heart deaths
    The belief that saturated fats cause heart disease sparked the multi-billion dollar low-fat food industry, which also catapulted margarine into being one of the world’s best-selling products. But all the time people were spreading the margarine and thinking they were doing their arteries a favour, they were, in fact, doing the very reverse. The trans fats in margarine, cakes and biscuits can lead to heart disease and heart deaths.

    And, [highlight]of the trans fats, the industrialised variety, made from hydrogenation and high heat, are more dangerous than the trans fats that occur naturally in some animal products[/highlight].

    Source: British Medical Journal 2015;351: h3978

  • High sugar levels in the blood cause arteries to narrow

    We’re all getting that sugar is bad for us, and this week it just got worse with news that high levels of glucose, the sugar in our blood, makes blood vessels contract or narrow, causing extra pressure on the heart.

    And there seems to be a direct association between levels of glucose and the amount of contraction: in other words, [highlight]the higher the amount of glucose in the blood, the greater the blood vessels contract. This can cause stress on the heart, hypertension (raised blood pressure) and starve organs of blood supply[/highlight], say researchers at the University of Leicester who made the discovery.

    A person whose glucose levels are high at a time when he or she is suffering a heart attack could die or have complications, the researchers say. Glucose levels rise naturally anyway during a heart attack—in a biological process known as the stress response—and so people whose levels are already high could suffer a fatal attack.

    Source: British Journal of Pharmacology, 2015; doi: 10.1111/bph.13399

  • Fast-food increases teenagers’ asthma and eczema risk

    Fast-food could be causing asthma, eczema and rhinitis (stuffy and runny nose), researchers claim this week. Children who have three or more servings every week are especially at risk, and their health problems could be more severe. Three or more servings of fast-food such as burgers increase the risk for severe asthma by 39 per cent in teenagers and by 27 per cent in younger children. Fruit has a protective effect, and a child is less likely to suffer from asthma the more fruit he or she eats.

    Researchers from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (Isaac) said that fast-food has high levels of saturated and trans fatty acids, which affect the immune system, while fruit is rich in antioxidants, which help promote good immune system functioning. Their findings are based on surveys of 319,000 teenagers and 181,000 six-year-olds living in up to 51 countries, who were asked about any illnesses and their severity, and the foods they ate. The [highlight]clearest association was between the immune-responsive diseases such as asthma and eczema and fast-food[/highlight].

    Source: Thorax, 2013; 10: doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202285

  • Children unable to process artificial sweeteners in diet drinks

    Children who drink diet colas are absorbing twice as much artificial sweetener, such as aspartame, as adults. Babies are also being fed sweeteners from their mothers’ breastmilk, and they are even less able to process them, say researchers.

    Although the sweeteners have been designated as safe food additives, they are active substances that can affect the metabolism, say researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. And [highlight]children up to the age of 12 are less able than an adult to absorb and process artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame, which are used in diet drinks[/highlight].

    The researchers discovered that children had twice the level of the sweeteners in their blood as adults aged between 18 and 45, who they also tested after both groups had drunk one 12-ounce can of diet soda.

    But they also foun[highlight]d the artificial sweeteners in breastmilk of mothers who had consumed diet drinks and foods[/highlight]. As children up to the age of two have even less ability to process them, it’s likely they have even higher levels in their blood than would older children.

    Source: Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry, 2016; 1: doi: 10.1080/02772248.2016.1234754 and .PDF

  • New study confirms: saturated fats protect us against heart disease

    The health advice we’ve been given about avoiding saturated fats is just plain wrong: the fats, from meat, butter, cream and cheese, don’t raise the risk of heart disease and instead have a protective effect, a new study has concluded.

    People who eat a lot of saturated fats are [highlight]less likely to suffer from heart problems, and instead have much healthier bio-markers, such as improved blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin and blood sugar levels[/highlight]. Despite being told for more than 50 years that saturated fats cause heart disease, the [highlight]real bad guys are the processed, flour-based products, highly-processed fats and foods with added sugar[/highlight], say researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway.

    Fats in processed foods are the real bad guys
    Whether we eat carbohydrates or fats, the real [highlight]key is to make sure that they are not processed[/highlight], say the researchers who examined the impact of eating large amounts of the two food groups among 38 men, who all had fat accumulated around the abdomen, liver and heart, and were considered obese. Despite the abdominal fat, usually considered to be a risk factor for heart disease, the men were at very low risk because all the usual markers were “substantially improved” when the men were put on the high carb/high-fats diet, known as FATFUNC. All the carbs and fats were low-processed foods or weren’t processed at all.

    Although saturated fat intake increased dramatically as part of the diet, the levels of the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol, LDL, didn’t increase, and the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol rose only among the men eating the high-fat diet. “Most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy,” said lead researcher Ottar Nygard.

    Overall, warnings about eating good-quality fats have been exaggerated. Instead attention should be turned to processed flour-based foods, highly-processed foods and those where extra sugar has been added.

    Source: The American Journal of Nutrition, 2016, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.115.123463

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