There's still five days left before the real reason for the season arrives. But it's a certainty that the celebrations, parties and all-night revelries have been coming along left and right.
Along with such gatherings are the food and drinking binges-the consumption of cholesterol-rich meat dishes and other foods derived from animal products (pork, beef, chicken, eggs, cheese, milk), combined with excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages. Sometimes, the partying gets over the top, and we wonder if we're celebrating the birth of a Savior, or anticipating a one-way trip to the hospital with the Grim Reaper.
Inquirer Science/Health makes a yearly reminder to readers to tread very carefully around the many "diet traps" of the Yuletide season. There is a reason health experts call this time of the year the "Merry Christmas Coronary" or the "Happy New Year Heart Attack."
In one of the 2012 special issues of Inquirer's Talk of the Town titled "Holiday feast sans ill side effects," it was explained that cholesterol could be found in all foods that come from animals: meat (pork and beef), poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yoghurt and the like. Choosing lean cuts of meat supposedly to avoid cholesterol is a myth; much of the cholesterol is, in fact, in the lean portion.
Filipino nutritionist-dietician Blecenda Miranda Varona says cholesterol is a nonessential component of our diets. When we consume the "internal organs of animals (in the form of dishes) like sisig, bulalo and bopis, which contain thousands of milligrams of cholesterol," we also absorb those unwanted amounts of cholesterol into our systems, says Varona.
The US-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which promotes preventive medicine, says "every four-ounce serving of beef or chicken contains 100 milligrams of cholesterol. Also, most shellfish are high in cholesterol. All animal products should be avoided for this reason. By contrast, no foods from plants contain cholesterol."
Animal products also contain saturated fat which causes the liver to produce more low-density lipoproteins (LDLs-the bad cholesterol). Beef, chicken and most other animal products contain substantial amounts of saturated fat. A few vegetable oils are also high in saturated fats.
Therefore, the greatest gift one can give to loved ones this Christmas is the gift of health-a way to literally survive a historically toxic season (and even emerge from it healthier). That kind of gift is prepared and wrapped right in our very own kitchens, and with the power of information technology right at the palm of our hands, finding food preparations that avoid animal products is as easy as the click of a mouse.