Butter Is Still Better

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Food & Nutrition, Health

If there is anything better than butter in a baked potato or on a scone that I haven’t yet come across it, but I know that the margarine industry has spent a lot of time and money in persuading as that it is bad for our health. As I keep on saying (or nagging, if you prefer) there is nothing wrong with butter it’s all about the quantity you are using and if you want a healthy heart then switching to the new range of margarines that have been enriched with omega-3 fatty acids will not make a difference — in fact could make it worse.

A study carried out by Wageningen University in the Netherlands over a three-year period showed that using such margarines did not prevent second heart attacks in older men and women at risk for worsening heart disease. The initial results appeared to show that switching to such margarines did initially reduce cardiac events, but by 30 months the evidence of that benefit had disappeared, said Daan Kromhout, MPH, PhD, the lead researcher. He reported their results at the recent European Society of Cardiology meeting and their findings were simultaneously published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

These findings have surprised some cardiologists as most of the data on omega-3 fatty acids come from epidemiologic studies and those were positive. Alfred Bove, MD, of Temple University in Philadelphia has likened the situation to hormone therapy, which had been widely recommended to reduce cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women based on data from epidemiologic studies. Subsequent evidence however showed that HRT can be a major risk factor for heart attacks in women are relying solely on research — in whatever field — is never a good idea.

The margarines used in the trial were supplied by Unilever, and included the well-known “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” which I have to confess I have no trouble believing as I can see no resemblance in taste at all. This research should not be used to downplay the role of Omega 3 in the prevention and treatment of not only heart disease but also Type 2 Diabetes and depression, because it is clearly an important element in our diet. However this definitely indicates that margarine is not the vehicle to introduce it to your diet. Better sources include oily fish such as salmon and Flax seeds and walnuts.

Three natural ways to reduce cholesterol

March 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition


With statin drugs continuing to get a bad press as the best cholesterol lowering solution, I thought it might help to remind you of the alternatives. First of all cholesterol is not evil, you need it for many bodily functions, and you don’t have to resort to drugs to keep your levels in balance.

A problem with the drugs, apart from side effects from eye problems and muscle pain to heart arrhythmias and liver disorders, is that new research by an Iowa State University scientist now suggests statins also could be affecting our memory and cognitive ability because they may be blocking the brain from making cholesterol which is vital for optimum brain function. Without adequate cholesterol from the brain, the release of neurotransmitters is affected and they are key for our memory functions.

So if you need to reduce cholesterol, try these three natural ways to do it:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids because they raise HDL (the good) and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad) levels. Use Bertie Wooster’s favourite food at least twice a week – that means oily fish like salmon and herring, and walnuts, almonds, and flaxseed oil.

2. Oat Bran & Brown Rice Bran because they both contain very high levels of soluble fibre which has the double whammy of binding fats and absorbing cholesterol.

3. Blueberries, Garlic, & Apples are all good, but not at the same time – if you have a recipe that combines them, please keep it to yourself. Garlic and Blueberries lower cholesterol levels, and your blood pressure while the apples contain fibre that will reduce the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver.

Omega 3, dieting and depression

Studies in the US have linked a low dietary intake of omega 3 fatty acids and dieting with growing rates of depression. Interestingly, the risk of developing depression has increased at a rate similar to the rise in consumption of omega 6 fatty acids from sources like vegetable seed oils and is relative to the decrease in omega 3 fatty acids from fish, walnuts, and flaxseed. Many nutritionists feel that this is a direct result of the increased consumption of processed foods as opposed to eating ‘real’ food.

The study gave either a fish oil capsule or a sugar pill in addition to their antidepressant medication to the participants. Just two weeks into the study, there was an improved sense of well being and sleeping patterns in the omega 3 supplement group. After four weeks a substantial had a significant reduction in the symptoms of depression as compared to those taking the sugar pill. The study concluded that the fatty acid EPA may be used as an antidepressant booster, but I would go further and suggest that it can be used proactively to help anyone with a tendency to depression before they start medication. Dietary changes have already been substantiated as helping depression, and adding in adequate amounts of Omega 3 can definitely help.