The good, the bad and the ugly — cholesterol, that is
The 1966 film “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” starred Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach as a trio of bounty hunters who are (in that order) caring, downright mean and highly suspicious.
Well, the same can be said for The Good cholesterol (HDL), The Bad cholesterol (LDL), and the newest character in the great blood lipid saga, The Ugly cholesterol. Turns out Ugly is neither HLD nor LDL, but a kind of remnant blood fat floating through your veins that’s as important a player in your health as those better-known forms.
A recent study in the journal Atherosclerosis found that identifying your level of Ugly cholesterol and reducing it with medication and lifestyle changes can dramatically cut your risk of stroke and heart attack. It seems that even if you get your LDL levels down, if ol’ Ugly remains high you’re still at increased risk.
So how do you discover your Ugly level, and what’s healthy? Well, Ugly cholesterol travels through your bloodstream inside the same lipid protein package as triglycerides. So if your triglycerides are below 150 Mg/dl (we prefer under 100), you’re not too ugly! One theory says dividing your triglyceride number by five reveals your level of Ugly cholesterol. Research is ongoing, but that’s our current understanding.
Fortunately, you can reduce triglycerides and Ugly cholesterol levels: Avoid refined carbs and added sugars. Limit alcohol intake. Eat omega-3 rich foods like salmon and sea trout. Ask your doctor about taking 900 mg a day of DHA omega-3 and lipid-lowering medications.
The anti-lung cancer diet
“The Stuff” is a 1980s cult film that tells the story of a parasitical, possibly cognizant, frozen yogurt-like substance that bubbles out of the earth and overtakes humans with its highly addictive flavor. Folks just can’t get enough of The Stuff…
Combine that with the 1975 movie “The Strongest Man in the World,” about an accident in a school laboratory that combines one student’s nutrient-packed cereal with another’s chemical experiment, and you’ve got the results of a significant, global study of almost 1.5 million people that found eating a diet loaded with yogurt and fiber is a powerful way to slash your lung cancer risk.
Researchers looked at men and women in their 50s and found that folks who ate a lot of yogurt and had the most fiber intake (from whole grains, and fruits and veggies) cut their risk of lung cancer by more than 30 percent compared with folks eating very little fiber and no yogurt. The researchers suggest that prebiotics from fiber and probiotics from yogurt are what help the immune system dodge lung cancer whether you’re a current, past or never smoker.
So there’s one more reason to eat only 100 percent whole grains, seven to nine servings of produce daily, and probiotic-rich foods like low- or no-fat yogurt, as well as kefir, sour dill pickles, kimchi, kombucha (a fermented tea), miso, natto (a food made from fermented soybeans), sauerkraut, the popular meat substitute tempeh and water- or brine-cured olives.
Plus, take a probiotic supplement with lactobacillus or in spore form daily.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.