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Cholesterol Levels

Grocery PatrolHave you noticed how the price of butter has more than doubled in the last few months? Although grocery shelves are overflowing with everything from low fat candy and pastries to snack foods, it appears that most Americans have fudged a bit on just how much fat they've cut from their diets. The butterfat shortage is being attributed to the rise in consumption of full-fat cheeses and premium ice creams. Cheese sales are up 2.5% over last year and sales of low and nonfat cheeses are down 15.2%; ice cream production is up 1.3% while production of lowfat ice cream is down 12% and frozen yogurt production is down 13%. (One cup of ice cream has about 10 grams of saturated fat almost half of the 22 grams a day that should be averaged by someone following a 2,000 calorie diet.) Wholesale prices for the butterfat that goes into making cheese and ice cream have risen from 82¢ a pound at the beginning of the year to about $2.00 which means higher prices for cheese, ice cream, and butter at the supermarket. (The average American gets 30% of daily calories from cookies, potato chips and other snacks!)

The FDA's food labeling guidelines were supposed to make it easier for the consumer to make healthy food choices, but as predicted, the marketing departments of food companies worked overtime to find loopholes. If you pick up a box of Cheerios, you'll read that eating them can lower your cholesterol. And for those of us who haven't walked down the cereal aisle in years, General Mills is spending $10 million on advertising to try to get us to eat cereal again. True, the participants in a study financed by General Mills lowered their cholesterol level by an average of nine points in six weeks. What those proud people in the advertising spots don't say is that they ate three cups of Cheerios every day for six weeks while on a diet that limited total fat to less than 30%, saturated fat to less than 10%, and no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. Most likely the fiber in the oats is what lowered the cholesterol reading. By the way, the Cheerios eaten in the study were the original recipe. If you're a Honey Nut Cheerios fan, don't even think about it you'd have to eat six cups to get the same amount of fiber.

Palm kernel and coconut oil are commonly used in baked goods, packaged mixes, and snacks. Read labels and don't buy products with these oils if you care about your arteries. Palm kernel oil is 80% saturated before it's hydrogenated. Coconut oil is 85% saturated. To give you an idea of how bad these fats are, lard is 40% saturated and butter is 60% saturated.

Calling all pizza lovers! The Center for Science in the Public Interest gives a "thumbs up" for Bravissimo! frozen pizza. Half of a 9-inch Roasted Vegetable Pizza topped with onions, red and yellow peppers, eggplant, roasted garlic and poblano peppers weighs in at 350 calories and four grams of unsaturated fat. The Spicy Thai Vegetable Pizza is topped with carrots, snow peas, peppers, roasted garlic and onions over a thick peanut sauce. Both pizzas are cheeseless. For cheese fans, half a Reduced Fat Cheese Pizza or Reduced Fat Spinach-Mushroom with Roasted Garlic Pizza contain a quarter of a day's saturated fat allowance.

If you or someone in your family is sensitive to artificial sweeteners, read labels. A new high intensity sweetener, sucralose, that is 600 times sweeter than sugar, was approved by the FDA for use in baked goods and mixes, beverages, chewing gum, tea products, candy and frostings, frozen dairy desserts, fruit and water ices, fruits and fruit juices, syrups, jams and jellies, milk products, etc., etc.

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