Q: I have been reading articles on saturated fats versus unsaturated fats. Guess what? I quit using vegetable and canola oil, and started using butter, lard and coconut oil in my cooking.
After about six months of this, my bloodwork showed total cholesterol at 150. My LDL and HDL cholesterol were in good order, and my triglycerides were better than they’ve ever been at 130. I’ve had high triglycerides since I was a small child (due to a thyroid disorder).
I’ve never had numbers so good. My HbA1c also was better at 6.2! Other than olive oil, I doubt I'll be using unsaturated vegetable oils again.
A: You probably realize that you are challenging 50 years of conventional medical advice to avoid saturated fat. You aren’t the only one who has started questioning traditional dietary recommendations, however.
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Three prominent cardiologists authored an article titled “Saturated fat does not clog the arteries” (British Journal of Sports Medicine, online, April 25, 2017). They state, “Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong.”
Instead, these heart doctors point to inflammation and insulin resistance as the bad actors in heart disease. Their recommendation: Coronary artery disease can be reduced by “walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food.”
Your improved HbA1c, a measure of blood sugar over several weeks, also might indicate reduced insulin resistance. Resistance to insulin is a hallmark of prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
Q: My ice addiction has been driving my family and co-workers crazy. I’m 47 and have craved chewing ice since I was a teenager. It gets worse when I’m stressed.
I’ve always had heavy periods and low energy. A Red Cross nurse told me I was too anemic to give blood, but I never made the connection between iron deficiency and craving ice.
Recently I decided to try consuming blackstrap molasses (as a home remedy for a different ailment), and overnight the ice cravings disappeared. I don’t have to consume molasses every day; I take it maybe three times a week. Rather than eat it straight from the jar, I put a tablespoonful in my almond milk, stir it and drink it like chocolate milk. It’s very tasty and an excellent source of iron.
A: Blackstrap molasses is indeed a good source of iron. A tablespoon contains 3.5 mg of iron.
The recommended dietary allowance for an adult woman is 18 mg, though, so you probably need to get some iron from other sources as well. Lean meat, seafood, nuts, beans and fortified grain products are good food sources.
Taking vitamin C with your iron can help absorption, but red grape juice and prune juice can inhibit iron uptake (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Nov. 6, 2002).
Q: I have been plagued with constipation and indigestion my whole life. A friend recommended magnesium, but that has given me diarrhea.
I do not want to take harsh laxatives or antacids. What natural options are there for constipation?
A: Experts usually recommend adequate fluids and fiber to treat constipation naturally. Some antacids can actually cause constipation.
One approach is “Power Pudding” made of bran, prune juice and applesauce. You'll find instructions for that and “dynamite” pumpkin bran muffins in our book “Recipes & Remedies,” available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. It also contains information on remedies such as persimmon punch or ginger tea for indigestion.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”