There’s No Such Thing As ‘Good Cholesterol’ Says Pivotal New Study

A surprising new genetic study shows that some people with naturally high levels of HDL cholesterol—the supposedly good kind of cholesterol—are at increased risk of a heart attack. Doctors are now further questioning the use of drugs to boost HDL levels while looking to new therapies to reduce heart risk.

Source: There’s No Such Thing As ‘Good Cholesterol’ Says Pivotal New Study

Sorry for the scare.

For the people with this genetic defect, HDL (“good”) cholesterol is not good because the defect destroys their liver’s ability to absorb fat brought to it by HDL.  In normal people, HDL still correlates with lower risk of heart disease.

Don’t Stop Having Sex Just Because You Had a Heart Attack

Although the sex-induced heart attack is a staple of fiction (I’m looking at you, Downton Abbey), in real life it’s quite rare. That’s reinforced by a study from Dietrich Rothenbacher and his research team at Germany’s Ulm University, which found that only a tiny fraction of patients (0.7%) said they were having sex in the hour before their heart attacks.

Source: Don’t Stop Having Sex Just Because You Had a Heart Attack

Some guys just came and went? 😉

The Myth of High-Protein Diets

MANY people have been making the case that Americans have grown fat because they eat too much starch and sugar, and not enough meat, fat and eggs. Recently, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee lifted recommendations that consumption of dietary cholesterol should be restricted, citing research that dietary cholesterol does not have a major effect on blood cholesterol levels. The predictable headlines followed: “Back to Eggs and Bacon?”

Source: The Myth of High-Protein Diets

These are not controlled studies.  While controlled studies provide better evidence, they are not feasible for all questions (in this case it would be impractical and unethical).  Results from observational studies like this one are not invalid, you just need to consider potential confounding, as they seem to have done here.  The study itself says that substituting fish, poultry, and nuts for red meat lowered the mortality risk.

This is no surprise coming from Dr. Dean Ornish, a longtime advocate of eating a plant-based diet. But his phrasing here surprises me. He seems to be suggesting that high protein in and of itself is bad, even if you’re getting your protein from low-calorie, low-fat sources like salmon.

Processed meats are so tightly linked to diabetes that we can inject rats with a compound from meat and cause diabetes. However, this is just processed meats we’re talking about. If you just cut some raw meat and then cook it, you’re mostly fine.

Related reading:

 

Researchers Slam 30-Year-Old Guidelines On Fatty Foods

Guidelines warning people to avoid eating fatty foods such as butter and cheese should not have been introduced, new research has found.

Dietary advice issued to tens of millions warned that fat consumption should be strictly limited to cut the risk of heart disease and death.  But experts say the recommendations, which have been followed for the past 30 years, were not backed up by scientific evidence and should never have been issued.

Source: Fat guidelines lacked any solid scientific evidence, study concludes

This study didn’t dismiss the saturated fat and heart disease correlation, though a study has demonstrated there is no link.  This also lends more weight to why the Mediterranean Diet is so healthy

On a related note: salt is not poison. Low sodium intake has been associated with an increased risk of stroke, in spite of what almost all doctors are taught, in at least two studies. There is little or no evidence that sodium intake increases the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). A high salt intake can increase your blood pressure, which is in fact a risk factor for CVD, but if your blood pressure is under control then salt is not necessarily a factor. It also seems that not having enough sodium may in fact be a risk factor for stroke.

Lentils: How Much Vitamin K?

It depends™.  For 1 cup (~200 grams):

Verdict: Depends on your lifestyle.  If you already eat raw lentils, I wouldn’t change.  But if you are looking to incorporate lentils into your diet more (benefits to follow), anticipate the need for an increase in warfarin/coumadin dose.

Lentils are a rich in dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble).  Soluble helps with lowering cholesterol and blood sugar/glucose, while insoluble helps prevent digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and diverticulosis.  Legumes in general are associated with a whopping 82% reduction in risk of coronary heart disease.  People eating 21 grams of fiber per day had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least (5 grams daily). Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.  The folate, iron, and magnesium content is also a big plus.

Here’s instructions for preparing lentils – very quick compared to navy or black beans.

Do You Have the Genotype That Makes Moderate Alcohol Consumption Heart Healthy?

So much for resveratrol?

Moderate alcohol consumption has widely been heralded as beneficial at reducing the risks of coronary heart disease. A new study from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg suggests that this benefit only exists in a small portion of the population. The research was published in the journal Alcohol. Moderate alcohol intake has been defined in the study as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

Source: Only A Fraction Of The Population Has The Genotype That Makes Moderate Alcohol Consumption Heart Healthy

This is not a great article and its conclusions have been over-generalized to the point where they no longer resemble the original findings. It is safe to ignore this paper and to continue to trust the many previous studies that actually demonstrate the correlation between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced mortality.

Reminder: Alcohol is addictive, laden with empty calories, and socially complex. Be careful™.