Cholesterol, saturated fat necessary part of athlete’s nutritional foundation
BY GLORIA ASKEW & JERRE PAQUETTE
People who think they are eating well by eliminating foods with cholesterol and saturated fats might be limiting their athletic potential and eating their way to disease.
Hype and misinformation have led millions of people (athletes and coaches included) to make nutritional decisions that are detrimental to optimum health and their athletic dreams.
Emerging research by Dr. Stephanie Seneff of Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that many can build a better nutritional foundation with some strategic tweaking of what they eat and drink on a daily basis.
The myth is that cholesterol and saturated fats are bad; the fact is that each plays significant roles in making and storing nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Insufficient amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat in our diets put us at risk of heart disease, brain dysfunction, muscle damage and, consequentially, poor athletic performance.
Dr. Seneff explains that cholesterol does not work on its own, however: it requires sulphur to optimize the production of vitamin D3, protect our hearts, and enhance performance of our muscles’ cells. It’s the combination then, of cholesterol, sulphur, and saturated fats that can tweak your nutritional status for optimal performance. Consider these facts:
1 North Americans experience widespread deficiencies in several crucial nutrients (including vitamins A and D, zinc, choline, folate, and niacin) abundant in foods containing cholesterol, sulphur, and saturated fat.
2 Cholesterol is essential in the fight against Type 2 diabetes (on the increase among young people and athletes), cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disorders. Further, it is needed to achieve optimal mobility. In fact, without cholesterol you wouldn’t be mobile; you’d be a plant!
3 Bad cholesterol (known as LDL) is a myth: LDL, which has been assigned that label, is in fact not cholesterol at all. In essence, cholesterol has never been
4 Saturated fat and cholesterol are required for energy, hormone production, vitamin absorption (A, D, E, and K), cell membrane structure, and communication among cells — essential for brain/muscle co-ordination and the fight-or-flight response. What’s an athlete without those?
5 Sulphur, in association with cholesterol, helps protect muscle cells against oxidation and aids in the metabolism of glucose for energy. Sulphur-rich foods include eggs, red meat, poultry, and fish as well as nuts, seeds, garlic, onions and many other vegetables. We strongly recommend certified organic sources.
Bottom line? Athletes who avoid cholesterol, saturated fat, and sulphur-rich foods are creating a nutritional foundation for themselves that may be too weak to support their performance goals.
We don’t recommend eating diets heavy in either cholesterol or saturated fat, but we do recommend athletes stop avoiding them and embrace sulphur-rich foods to help build a strong nutritional foundation for enhanced, sustainable sports performance.
Consider adopting these suggestions:
• Enjoy eggs again — especially the yolk, designed by chickens to build a strong nervous system and support fluidity of movement.
• Unless you’re a determined vegan, eat moderate amounts of healthy, cholesterol-rich, animal-based foods, including certified organic liver (chicken is best for sulfur content).
• Where possible, bare those legs and arms to the sun — but for heaven’s sake don’t burn! A little sunbathing (with no sunscreen) will allow the sun’s rays to interact with the cholesterol sulphate in your skin to produce vitamin D3 and help your cells create energy. No sun? Take vitamin D3 supplements also containing vitamin K2.
• Consider yogurt and sour cream. They are a good source of fat and help restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut.
• Use onions, garlic, and other sulfur-rich foods liberally.
• Go easy on fruit juices: excess fructose can put a terrible burden on your liver, which is solely responsible for the production of cholesterol.
With just a bit of tweaking, an athlete can build a strong foundation of nutrients and a body more prepared for the hard run against disease and disappointing performance.
ON YOUR MARK BREAKFAST
Makes 1 serving
Here’s a breakfast that will start your day with lots of sulphur-rich goodness.
1 slice certified organic, stoneground, whole-grain bread
1 slice Swiss cheese
1 thick slice tomato
1 slice onion
1 egg, preferably from a free-range chicken
A drizzle of extra-virgin, cold pressed olive oil
Boil the egg until medium soft, then toast the bread and spread it with the avocado. Layer the Swiss cheese, tomato and onion on the avocado then drizzle on olive oil. When the egg is cooked, run it briefly under cold water (shell on). Peel the shell off the egg, cut the egg in half or quarters, and place the segments on top of the tomato and onion slices.
Nutritional information per serving:
Calories 461; Carbs 34.2g; Protein 20.3g; Total Fat 27.1g (Saturated fat 8.8g); Cholesterol 237.1mg
Best-selling authors Gloria Askew, Retired Registered Nurse (Emergency) and Jerre Paquette, PhD (Education) are co-authors of the new book Eat to Save Your Life.