Monthly Archives: October 2016
By now it’s common knowledge that the majority of the foods served at fast food restaurants are, for lack of a better term, really bad for you. Even though a single McDonald’s cheeseburger is relatively low in fat and calories, it’s also very low in actual nutrients. And while we tend to think in terms of fat and calorie content when we’re discussing the health benefits (or lack thereof) of fast food, there’s another major culprit to be on the lookout for: cholesterol.
Cholesterol is an essential structural component of cell membranes and is also necessary for the formation of steroid hormones and vitamin D. In high concentrations, however, cholesterol (especially “bad” cholesterol, or LDL — low-density lipoprotein) can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition in which artery walls thicken as the result of an invasion and buildup of white blood cells (also known as hardening of the arteries). This can result in a heart attack, stroke, and other forms of cardiovascular disease.
More foods are high in cholesterol than you may think. Dairy products, buttery baked goods, fried foods, eggs, red meat, and fatty meats like bacon, sausages, and ribs are fairly well-known to be high in cholesterol, but it’s also abundant in plenty of seafood, like shrimp and certain types of fish. By and large, the more trans fats and saturated fat a food product contains, the higher in cholesterol it will be.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams — 200 milligrams if you already have heart disease. If you’re looking to watch your cholesterol intake, we recommend staying away from the breakfast menu at your local fast food joint, because on the whole it’s the breakfast items that have the most shockingly high amount of cholesterol. For example, a Sausage McMuffin with Egg at McDonald’s contains a whopping 285 milligrams of cholesterol, and a McDonald’s Big Breakfast with hotcakes and a large biscuit, which is one of the unhealthiest fast food items anywhere, contains an insane 575 milligrams of cholesterol (along with 1,150 calories and 60 grams of fat).
While the highest-cholesterol fast food menu items are invariably a part of the breakfast menu, for today’s purposes we’re taking a look at the highest-cholesterol items on the regular menus at the 12 biggest fast food chains. If you’re watching your cholesterol, some fast food items are OK to eat. Just stay away from the breakfast menu, and stay away from these items.
#12 Taco Bell: Chicken or Steak DoubleDilla (100 Milligrams)
Taco Bell’s new “DoubleDilla” has a double portion of meat and cheese, along with a double portion of cholesterol. Both the steak and chicken varieties contain 100 milligrams of cholesterol; the chicken contains slightly less fat and fewer calories than the steak, with 910 calories and 42 grams of fat versus 920 calories and 44 grams of fat, respectively.
#11 McDonald’s: Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese (165 Milligrams)
The Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese has more cholesterol than any other item on the regular McDonald’s menu, with 165 milligrams of cholesterol. It also contains 740 calories and 42 grams of fat.
#10 Dairy Queen: ½ lb. Flamethrower Grillburger (165 milligrams)
Tipping the scales at 165 milligrams of cholesterol is DQ’s ½ lb. Flamethrower Grillburger, two quarter-pound patties stacked with pepper Jack cheese, jalapeño bacon (whatever that is), and mayo-based FlameThrower sauce. It also contains 1,010 calories, 71 grams of fat, 26 grams of saturated fat, two grams of trans fat, and 1,670 milligrams of sodium.
aking medicines to lower blood pressure and cholesterol failed to prevent cognitive and functional declines in older adults with moderate risk of heart disease, according to results of a clinical trial presented on Sunday.
The study was an offshoot of a more than 12,000-patient trial called Hope-3 released earlier this year. Patients in the study with hypertension and moderate risk of heart disease slashed their long-term risk of heart attack and stroke by 40 percent by taking a blood pressure medication as well as a cholesterol-lowering statin.
Under the theory that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain, researchers conducted a series of tests in Hope-3 patients aged 70 and older, who are considered at highest risk for cognitive decline. In all, 1,626 completed the study after being followed for 5.6 years on average.
Subjects received a blood pressure medicine, AstraZeneca’s Crestor cholesterol fighter, or both, and all three groups were compared with a placebo.
To the dismay of researchers, cognitive declines in all three drug groups were virtually identical to those who received a placebo, and about what would be expected from normal aging.
“We were pretty disappointed,” said lead researcher Dr. Jackie Bosch, who presented the data at the American Heart Association’s scientific meeting in New Orleans.
However, there was a silver lining.
Statins, which have been definitively shown to cut heart attack risk, are among the most widely prescribed medicines in the world. But some statin users have reported experiencing episodes of memory loss while taking the medication.
That was not seen in this study.
“The part about statins not having a negative effect on cognition is big,” said Bosch, who is from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Patients undertook a series of tests at the start of the study and upon completion to assess cognitive and functional declines.
The main one, to assess changes in psycho motor processing speed, was a test in which patients were asked to substitute a digit that corresponds to a symbol in a certain order over two minutes.
Others tested executive function, such as doing banking or high-level planning, and the ability to conduct daily activities.
There was also a questionnaire for self-reporting functional or cognitive declines. On all measures, the declines were similar for the drug groups and placebo.
However, researchers saw a trend toward possible benefits from drug therapy in patients who had the highest blood pressure and LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol at the start, and in those who stayed on the medicines for at least six years.
The benefits of starting early and continuing longer-term treatment remains unclear, they said.
“I’ve never seen this before,” California attorney Stacey Barrett tells the Guardian. “I’ve never even heard of it.” Barrett’s client, 36-year-old Joseph Schwab, is facing a misdemeanor DUI charge—apparently over caffeine.
Schwab was pulled over in August 2015 in Solano County while driving home from his job installing glass, the Fairfield Daily Republic reports. An agent from the state department of alcoholic beverage control said Schwab cut her off and was driving erratically.
Barrett says a breathalyzer test at the scene showed a 0.00% alcohol level, but Schwab was booked into jail regardless. His blood was screened twice, testing negative for all sorts of drugs.
The only positive result: caffeine. A forensic toxicologist says he hasn’t heard of anyone being charged with DUI for caffeine in his 41 years on the job, and Barrett calls the whole thing “absurd.” Schwab’s toxicology report didn’t specify how much caffeine was in his system, and he says he’s not sure he even consumed anything with caffeine that day.
The county’s chief deputy DA says the DUI charge isn’t based on caffeine but has offered no other evidence, Barrett says. It took the county nearly 10 months to bring charges against Schwab, who says the delay makes it harder for him to defend himself, such as by finding the crew he was working with that day to testify on his behalf.
With the trial finally about to start, Barrett is seeking to get the case dismissed. (This guy drank four or five energy drinks a day, then turned yellow.)
Last year, a group of 200 women in 40 states filed a class action lawsuit alleging the cleansing conditioner from Wen by Chaz Dean caused scary side effects, from scalp irritation to hair loss.
On Oct. 31, a federal judge in Los Angeles gave preliminary approval to a $26.3 million settlement for the suit against celebrity stylist Chaz Dean and Wen distributor Guthy-Renker. If approved by a United States district judge, customers who had adverse reactions could receive up to $20,000.
Wen is a leader in the no-shampoo movement. Many women believe that conditioner washing or “co-washing”—using only cleansing conditioner (and no shampoo)—makes their hair feel healthier, softer, and easier to manage.
But the women represented in the lawsuit say they’ve had the opposite experience: They claim Wen’s cleansing condition caused “severe and possibly permanent damage to hair, including significant hair loss to the point of visible bald spots, hair breakage, scalp irritation, and rash.”
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“From what we understand about the product and how it causes hair loss is it contains virtually no cleanser,” attorney Amy Davis told CBS. “It’s like using lotion to wash your hair. So instead of removing the product when you rinse it off, it just becomes impacted in your hair follicle.”
The hair-care brand is standing by its products. “Wen by Chaz Dean is safe and we continue to provide our hundreds of thousands of customers with the Wen by Chaz Dean products that they know and love,” the company said in a statement. “Since the process of litigation is time consuming and costly, we made a business decision to pursue a settlement and put this behind us so that we can focus on delivering quality products.”
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So, should you hesitate to use a cleansing conditioner like Wen’s?
This question is a tricky one, in part because experts haven’t been able to figure out what, exactly, caused the concerning side effects. When we asked two dermatologists about the lawyer’s description of the Wen product becoming “impacted” in the hair follicle, they both agreed it didn’t make much sense.
“I’m certainly not a legal expert,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. “But since hair grows from the hair follicle—which is under the skin—and not from the surface, I couldn’t really make sense of this lawsuit.” What’s more, she says, if a product doesn’t contain any cleanser, the result would be oily hair: “I can’t see how it would cause hair loss.”
Mary Gail Mercurio, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says the worst side effect she’d expect from a cleansing conditioner would be oily, matted hair that feels weighed-down. “I’d think it might have a negative effect on appearance, but it shouldn’t cause breakage,” she says.
Both doctors felt the lotion analogy Davis used was puzzling, since washing your hair with lotion shouldn’t cause your hair to fall out either. “Dermatologists often prescribe medicines of varying viscosity for the scalp without seeing this phenomenon,” says Dr. Mercurio.
U.S. health officials recommended cutting the amount of salt added to foods to help Americans reduce their sodium consumption by about a third, according to proposed guidelines that are likely to have a wide-ranging impact on the processed food industry in the United States.
Increased sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke — two major causes of death in the United States.
The average sodium intake in the United States is about 3,400 mg per day. The guidelines set targets for the food industry to help reduce sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement.
The health agency said the voluntary guidelines would apply to major food manufacturers and restaurants.
About half of every food dollar goes to food consumed outside the home, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service.
Many U.S. food companies, including Campbell Soup Co (CPB.N), General Mills Inc (GIS.N) and Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O), have already cut salt levels to some extent in anticipation of the guidelines, which have been in the works since 2011.
The FDA said it encouraged feedback over a stipulated comment period that ranges from 90 days to 150 days.
The guidelines come days after the FDA said it plans a major overhaul of the way packaged foods are labeled to reflect the amount of added sugar and specific serving sizes.
(The story corrects first paragraph to say the FDA has recommended that Americans reduce sodium consumption, not the amount of salt added to foods, by about a third.)