A calorie is a measure of energy: one calorie is the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. However, what we colloquially refer to as a calorie when we are talking about food is really a kilocalorie. One kilocalorie — one dietary Calorie — is the energy required to heat one kilogram of water by one degree celsius. A kilogram is 1,000 grams or approximately 2.2 pounds.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in every cell in our body. It’s not “fat” though; it’s a sterol, a combination of a steroid and alcohol.
Cholesterol moves through our bloodstream as a lipoprotein; the fat (lipid) is on the inside and proteins are on the outside. If you think of the lipoprotein as a car moving around your city, the cholesterol and fat are like passengers. The proteins are the body of the car.
Once upon a time, doctors only looked at total cholesterol in the blood — how many cars were on the road. Now we know that there are two types: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Your doctor wants your LDL number to be “small” and your HDL number to be “large” (>50).
In addition, we need to know the size of LDL particles (LDL-P): big, medium or small. “Small LDL particles are a far more destructive force than their larger counterparts.” When the particles are large, the danger of heart disease is minimized. But when the particles are small, the danger increases even if the total LDL measurement is within the normal range. That’s because smaller particles find it easier to embed themselves into the artery wall, which is how plaque develops. For LDL-P, the goal is<1000 nmol/L .
Because cholesterol is used by every cell, there are dangers when total cholesterol is too low. For example, a 2012 research study of 52K Norwegians suggests that for women “moderately elevated cholesterol (by current standards) may prove to be not only harmless but even beneficial.” And from 2005: “High cholesterol in late life (after age 70) was associated with decreased dementia risk (emphasis added).”
Diabetes affects 25.8 million Americans. With Type 2 diabetes mellitus, our body acts as if it does not have enough insulin to manage our blood sugar levels. The body may not be as sensitive to the insulin that the pancreas makes (insulin resistance) or the pancreas stops making enough insulin or a combination of the two. There is a genetic component to diabetes. Excessive high blood glucose can damage to many parts of the body over time.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of symptoms that increase the risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, or liver disease. There are five symptoms:
- Large Waist Size: 35” or more for women and 40” for men
- High triglycerides: 150 mg/dL or higher (or use of cholesterol medication)
- High total cholesterol or HDL levels less than 50 mg/dL for women, 40 mg for men
- High blood pressure: 135/85 mm or higher
- High blood sugar: 100 mg/dL or higher
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the accumulation of fat in the liver in people drink little or no alcohol. According to Sugar Science, “There is growing scientific consensus that one of the most common types of sugar, fructose, can be toxic to the liver, just like alcohol.” That’s because fructose is processed by the liver.
Fructose is the sugar in fruit. Table sugar, whether made from sugar cane or beets, is 50% fructose and 50% sucrose. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contain more than 50% fructose, depending on processing methods.
Small amounts of fructose, consumed while eating fruit, is not a problem for the liver. Large amounts, such as orange juice or apple juice, hit the liver hard.
Orange juice is not much better for you than a soft drink made with HFCS: “Not only is orange juice heavily processed, but it’s straight sugar which today people recognize as contributing to obesity and diabetes.” And not just “sugar” but fructose, which contributes to NAFLD.
For example, Odwella orange juice is 210 calories for one serving, 45 grams of sugar, for a 15.2 fluid ounce bottle. This is equivalent to five oranges, according to the company. Can you imagine eating five oranges at one sitting?
Compare that to a 12 ounce can of Coke. It has 140 calories (39 grams sugar).
One medium sized orange has 85 calories (so much for the Odwalla five oranges claim, eh?), 17 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 160% of your daily recommended allowance for Vitamin C. That Odwella orange juice? Only 190% of your RDA for Vitamin C. No listing for fiber.
If you’re consuming orange juice because you’re concerned about getting enough Vitamin C, just eat an orange. It’s better for you and cheaper, too.
Saturated (and unsaturated) fat
Law of unintended consequences at work here.
Transfats are also called trans fatty acids and almost all are the result of food processing. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL). Transfats increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.