Category Archives: Culinary


A primer.

Interesting, and slightly dismaying. If true, the HDL/LDL ratio isn’t really important; all that really matters is the absolute LDL level. Still, a high ratio and reduction of total would reduce LDL. But the most important takeaway from a dietary standpoint is that you are not what you eat — there is little correlation between cholesterol intake and serum cholesterol. A failure to understand this over the decades has resulted in a lot of terrible dietary advice, including the kind that probably killed my father in the seventies.

Random Thoughts

“Obama ate a dog” edition. This is like a permanent employment act for people like Jim Treacher and Frank J. And of course, the inevitable Dogs Against Obama web site.

[Late morning update]

Just when did the presidents stop eating dogs? Treacher’s having way too much fun with this.

[Update a few minutes later]

Why Barack Obama identifies with the dog eaters. The rest of us are just bitter, clinging to our provincial American cuisine.

Another Reason To Eat Chiles

They reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. This kind of thing always makes me question such studies, though:

Chen and his colleagues turned to hamsters for the study, animals that serve as stand-ins for humans in research that cannot be done in people. They gave the hamsters high-cholesterol diets, divided them into groups, and supplemented each group’s food with either no capsaicinoids (the control group) or various amounts of capsaicinoids. The scientists then analyzed the effects.

In addition to reducing total cholesterol levels in the blood, capsaicinoids reduced levels of the so-called “bad” cholesterol (which deposits into blood vessels), but did not affect levels of so-called “good” cholesterol. The team found indications that capsaicinoids may reduce the size of deposits that already have formed in blood vessels, narrowing arteries in ways that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Capsaicinoids also blocked the activity of a gene that produces cyclooxygenase-2, a substance that makes the muscles around blood vessels constrict. By blocking it, muscles can relax and widen, allowing more blood to flow.

Emphasis mine. The assumption is that one gets high cholesterol from dietary cholesterol, when in fact there’s little evidence to substantiate that. But in this case, I don’t think it invalidates the research, fortunately.

Speaking of nutrition myths, here’s one that says bacon is good for you, but still gets it wrong:

Nutritionist Zoe Harcombe says: ‘Typically, about 45 per cent of the fat in pork is unsaturated. Most of that is oleic acid, the same healthy fat found in olive oil, which is known to help lower cholesterol levels.

‘Of course, the rest is unhealthy saturated fat, so moderation is key.’

Repeat after me: there is nothing wrong with saturated fat. In fact, it is much healthier than seed oils with their high omega 6s, which is where we got too much of our dietary fat. The key is to cut back on the high-glycemic carbs.

Bad Cholesterol

…is there no such thing?

I’m kind of amused by the commenter who fantasizes that he’s making some kind of point by claiming that “Eades is not a scientist.” What does he think a scientist is, or does?

[Update a few minutes later]

Speaking of nutritional science, this is junk nutritional science:

“Overall, we found that obese rats fed a high-fat, low-carb diet — comparable to that humans would consume — had larger, more damaging and deadly heart attacks than rats fed the control diet,” Lloyd says. “Our findings also suggest that, at the cellular level, a high-fat, low-carb diet impaired recovery of heart function in obese rats immediately following a heart attack.”

Only one problem. You can’t extrapolate dietary results for rats to humans. We have a different physiology and natural diet. Actually, there’s a lot of junk science based on rat research.

[Update a while later]

Link was missing. Fixed now.