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Fast Food Boosts Good Cholesterol Level!

When you first look at the title, I bet you will be very puzzled because we used to get advices like “don’t take too much fast food because it is bad for our health”. Fast food is blamed by many health experts for causing the childhood obesity epidemic. Obesity or overweight is definitely one of the risk factors for heart disease.

Many fast food companies have been pressurized to modify their menus to be healthier. On their websites, McDonald's and Burger King highlight salads and low-fat products, alongside the classic burgers and colas, and offer suggestion on balanced diets and a healthy lifestyle.

In the month of February 2008, doctors from the University Hospital of Linkoping reported in the British Medical Association's journal “Gut” that a month-long diet of fast food with no exercise would cause the body to produce high levels of enzymes linked to liver damage. In other words, high ALT levels can be caused by food alone. Meanwhile, they were also surprised to find that a relentless regimen of burgers, fries and soda did boost so-called good cholesterol (HDL).

Doctors in Sweden invited 12 men and 6 women in their twenties. These young people are all slim and in good health. They were asked to eat 2 meals per day at McDonalds, Burger King or other fast-food restaurants over a 4-week period. They were also told not to do any exercise. The aim was to increase their body weights by 10 to 15 percent so that the impact of an abrupt surge in calorie intake could be measured.

Blood samples were taken before, during and after the experiment. The investigators monitored levels of enzyme called alanine aminotransferase (ALT), which is a potential marker for liver damage often seen among heavy drinkers and patients with hepatitis C.

After only one week, the levels of ALT increased sharply, and quadrupled on average over the entire 4-week period. The results really scared the researchers. One of the volunteers was removed from the study because he had 10 times the normal ALT levels. For 11 of the 18 subjects, ALT rose to levels that would normally reflect liver damage, even among individuals who are not alcohol drinkers, though no such damage actually occurred.

2 of the individuals had liver steatosis, or fatty liver, in which fat cells build up dangerously in the liver. Steatosis is believed to be associated with the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The researchers indicated that it was the carbohydrates (sugar in the coke) and not the fat in the hamburgers that was linked to liver damage.

Another startling result they found is that the increase in saturated fat correlated with the increase in healthy cholesterol (HDL). The healthy cholesterol (HDL) increased over the 4-week period. This was actually consistent with the so-called “French Paradox”. For nearly 2 decades, scientists have wonder how the French can consume a diet rich in fats, yet have generally low levels of heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure).

The researchers have yet to publish their findings on cholesterol. However, such finding should not be taken as an encouragement for people to take huge amount of fast food as the study did show that this could seriously damage the liver.



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