Friday, April 22, 2011

Heart Healthy HDL

I was curious to see what General Mills, the manufacturer of Cheerios®, has to say about the impact of their breakfast cereal on HDL cholesterol.  Indeed, the website tells us that
Cheerios® is made with 100% natural whole grain oats. And oats are the only major breakfast cereal grain proven to help lower cholesterol.
Apart from not saying which kind of cholesterol is lowered, technically speaking, the site does not say their cereal will lower your cholesterol.

If oats are proven to lower cholesterol, does that automatically mean a product made with oats as well as additional ingredients known to be bad for heart health (i.e. sugar, modified corn and wheat starch) will also lower cholesterol?  I think not.  I may be splitting hairs, but in my opinion, the site strongly implies that it will, without actually saying so.

This is what the site has to say about LDL and HDL cholesterol:
LDL Cholesterol
Substantial amounts of research have shown that your LDL (“bad”) levels are more predictive of your risk for heart disease than total cholesterol. That’s why physicians take a close look at them. The first approach is to lower LDL cholesterol with a healthy diet and exercise, but sometimes, depending upon other risk factors you might have, physicians will prescribe medication along with diet and exercise. 
HDL Cholesterol
In general, men have lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol than women, but women might see their HDLs drop during menopause. You can help increase HDL levels by not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, and being physically active on a regular basis.
It's encouraging to read that LDL is more predictive of heart disease risk than total cholesterol.  But did you notice there is no mention of the fact that HDL is much more effective as a predictor of heart disease?

If you wanted to inform consumers concerned about their heart health in an honest manner, wouldn't you want to mention this too?

Needless to say, I wasn't able to find any information on the website to tell me this popular breakfast cereal is good for HDL cholesterol.  I strongly suspect that's because there aren't any studies to prove that it is.

As it happens, there are several known factors that are known to raise HDL, though none of them include oatmeal.  If, like me, you are intrigued by evidence that a brisk walk and a stiff drink might be more beneficial than a bowl of cereal, please head over to Perfect Health Diet for more information.

If you can find any evidence that I am mistaken, please let me know.  I would be more than happy to post this information.  In spite of the fact that 1 cup packs about 17g of carbohydrates after adjusting for the fibre content, and contains both sugar and wheat, I do like the taste of Cheerios®, and it might be a convenient "sometimes" food if I knew it really was heart healthy.

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