LDL, HDL: just eat up?
I just heard some good news for a change. And it has nothing to do with my 401(k) or the price of gas.
According to the latest government report, cholesterol doesn’t matter. I have to write fast before they issue another report that contradicts this one. I’m sure there are scientific nuances I can’t grasp, largely because I didn’t take high school physics, I struggled through chemistry, and I almost passed out in biology when we had to dissect fetal pigs.
You see, I don’t have an aptitude for this science stuff, which means you wouldn’t want me to work in R&D at Pfizer; however, I saw all the X-Men movies and that has to count for something.
My ignorance hasn’t stopped me from developing a mistrust of scientific research, which has a lifespan slightly longer than the average snail darter.
Every week, a new study is released that refutes what you were told about the benefits of fish oil and statins, the effects of HDL and LDL, the value of vitamin supplements, the Mediterranean diet (olive oil, wine and pepperoni), the Pritikin diet (bacon, eggs and cheese), the Antarctic diet (ice and water) and a lot of other things you hear on Dr. Oz and The View, where we learn about the latest medical developments.
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, concluded that “available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol.”
That’s a very confusing concept, which may be difficult to grasp for those of you who only took computer science. What it means in layman’s terms is that you can eat a dozen eggs for breakfast, a tub of buttered popcorn for lunch and crème brûlée at dinner and not worry too much, only a little, that it will clog your arteries — although you could sustain third-degree burns if you use a blowtorch on the crème brûlée.
So you’re probably asking, “Exactly where does artery-clogging cholesterol come from?” Recent research, yet to be made public and still subject to peer review, concludes that it comes from ... cell phones.
I know it’s hard to believe, but cell-phone use and text-messaging cause high cholesterol. For every 90 text-messages you send, your LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol,” increases 2 points while your HDL, the “rehabilitated cholesterol,” drops 1 point. Because of this, an increasing number of young people are prone to clogged arteries, not to mention clogged ear canals.
Even though experts are minimizing the effect of cholesterol consumption, they are honing in on saturated fat, which differs from cholesterol in that it’s spelled differently. So to ensure a healthy heart, stay away from red meat, barbecued ribs, rocky road ice cream and Godiva chocolates.
For years, I tried to control my cholesterol by running, walking, using “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” in a spray dispenser that resembles Glade air freshener, and by avoiding eggs, milk, chocolate, steak, Haagen-Dazs ... do you actually believe I didn’t eat those things?
I did, but I just didn’t want my PCP, aka my primary care physician, to find out because whenever I went for my blood work and my cholesterol numbers were off the charts, he’d say, “You have to change your lifestyle,” and I’d say, “I only eat blueberries and Brussels sprouts. Why are these numbers so high? Did they give me the wrong results? This is why there’s a healthcare crisis in America!”
After years of wrangling, he put me on statins, but my legs couldn’t make it up the stairs at Grand Central Terminal, which is an unfortunate side-effect. I stopped taking statins and slogged along, trying to control what I ate. In addition, I exercised, I cycled, I did calisthenics, I meditated, I expostulated, I hypothesized, I washed my car, and I even cleaned off my nightstand in an attempt to bring down my numbers. It didn’t help, but it made my wife happy.
Our parents and grandparents, who didn’t have access to all this information, lived healthier lives. They ate simply, they ate locally, they ate fresh, they couldn’t afford Godiva chocolates. And I’m going to follow their example ... right after I finish this Wendy’s Pretzel Burger.
Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani [at] yahoo.com.