You Are What You Eat,Period

The Heart Attack Burger...worth dying for? (actually sold in an outlet in Arizona)

The mainstream media was awash yesterday with articles proclaiming that the Western diet raises the risk of getting a heart attack. Whether it was the BBC, AFP, ABC or Reuters, they all described a study where 16,000 people in 52 countries  were studied according to what they ate and their risk of getting a heart attack.

The study categorised their dietary patterns into 3 groups:

  • The Western Diet – emphasis on salty snacks,fried foods, and to a lesser extent, meat.
  • The Oriental Diet- high on tofu and soy products, including soy sauce.
  • The Prudent Diet- rich in fruits and veggies.

It wasn’t a surprise to find out that those on the Western Diet had a 35% greater risk of getting a heart attack whereas those on the Prudent Diet had a 33% lowering of the risk. The researchers gave a neutral score for the Oriental Diet as they felt that the salt in soy sauce neutralised the protective effects of soya.

My criticism of this study is that it oversimplifies matters concerning eating habits and tends to give the impression that fruits and vegetables are the perfect solution and that all Western diet are bad.

The fact of the matter is, whether you are in Maine, Mumbai or Malaysia, you need to reduce salty, oily, fried or fatty foods,period. The style of cooking is what matters. That includes reducing the intake of fried veggies in favour of raw or lightly blanched styles. Taking fried kai-lan in oyster sauce will only serve to destroy the protective effects of the veggies. Similarly, a lean cut of grilled tenderloin is much better than pan-fried rib-eye, if taken in moderation, due to the lower fat content.

In today’s egalitarian society, its certainly not heartening to note that heart attacks are no longer an affliction of only the rich, perhaps a reflection of improper eating habits irrespective of social status. Heart disease is a problem that needs to be addressed by all strata of society – and this begins with you being what you eat.


2 responses

  1. Interesting, I read another story on tofu (soya) product.

    looks like it affects sperm count !

    Yes cooking method matters.

    Doctor2008 says: Took a look at that article. It comes from a small study and the results are preliminary, as the study itself admitted. Don’t fall victim to media hype, keep the tofu coming!

  2. I was was once told by a friend that recent scientific research has indicated that it is better to start a meal with fruits, rather than as a dessert.

    Could you confirm whether there is such research findings were published and the rationale of starting a meal with fruits?

    Doctor2008 replies: Yes, it makes sense taking fresh fruit and juices on an empty stomach to allow the body to absorb rapidly the beneficial elements, especially phytochemicals(mainly antioxidants). By delaying their absorption, such as when there are other foods in the stomach, you are allowing these phytochemicals to be oxidised and rendered ineffective while in the stomach.Just look at what happens to cut apples when left uneatened. Also, these antioxidants do interfere with the absorption of medicines, so medicines and fruit juices do not mix well together. I would advise allowing at least 20 mins before consuming other foods or medicine.

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