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Does higher consumption of dietary cholesterol increase your chances of diabetes?

Next time you are tempted to have that extra dollop of butter or a piece of red meat, even as a monetary indulgence, pause a little. A higher consumption of dietary cholesterol may increase your chances of Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the journal, “Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular diseases,” has indicated. The take-home message is really simple, says Dr Shashank Joshi, noted endocrinologist at Lilavati Hospital. “Eat less, cook healthy, reduce cooking oil and be wise about your fats. Also do not forget that no dietary practices will work unless there is better physical activity,” says he.

Dietary cholesterol, according to the study, is present in several foods such as red meat, animal viscera, edible oil and butter. Yeuhua Li and other researchers from China evaluated the dose-response relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and incidence of Type 2 diabetes in a meta analysis. A total of 11 studies, including 3.5 lakh subjects, were included. Study results showed that with a 100 mg/d increase in dietary cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes rose by five per cent. The association was sharper in Western countries vis-a-vis Eastern ones.

“This is a meta analysis of multiple studies and results have found that a low intake of dietary cholesterol can prevent Type 2 diabetes. So far, there has been some ambiguity regarding dietary cholesterol. But what is important to understand is that for Type 2 diabetes, if you eat less and reduce carbohydrates and fats (both visible and invisible – fried food and fast food ), cut oil – which should be less than half kg per person per month – then it can have an impact on better metabolic health or diabetic health,” Dr Joshi says.

The study also indirectly suggests that people who have less dietary cholesterol are likely to be leaner, while people who have higher cholesterol are fatter, he adds.

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However, Dr Joshi says no diet-based lifestyle advice is complete without an advisory on exercise. “One has to burn those calories. It also links to fast food behaviour – both desi and global fast foods are high on fats. You should eliminate trans fats, refrain from food items made in reheated oil and have better cooking practices. There is no best edible oil but cook in less oil. Blended ones are the best, say a 30:70 blend of safflower with rice bran. Rice bran blends work best,” he says.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. More than 95 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes and this is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.

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A study published in the British Medical Journal (Dietary and nutritional approaches for prevention and management of type 2 diabetes- June 2018) has said that the prevalence of diabetes is estimated to rise from 425 million people in 2017 to 629 million by 2045 and urgent solutions are needed like investment in modifiable factors. These include diet, physical activity and weight. According to researchers, there is an increasing focus on foods and healthy eating patterns. Evidence supports avoiding processed foods, refined grains, processed red meats and sugar sweetened drinks and promoting the intake of fibre, vegetables and yoghurt. Dietary advice should be individually tailored and take into account personal, cultural and social factors.

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