Thai restaurant menus have several deep-fried appetizers and I’ve listed my top four to avoid. Deep-fried anything is a caloric and heart-health nightmare.
CRAB PUFFS (Also called Money Bags or Golden Purses)
Golden brown deep-fried jumbo tortellini with stuffing of mixed imitation crab meat and cream cheese.
4 pieces contain 600 calories (150 calories each); 20 grams of fat and 500 mg sodium.
Deep-fried coconut prawns served with plum sauce.
4 small pieces are 355 calories; 24 grams fat; 745 mg sodium.
Mixed vegetables and vermicelli noodle wrapped in wheat paper wrap and deep-fried.
Each roll has 270 calories; 12 grams of fat and 375 mg sodium.
Breaded and deep-fried calamari with seasoned mayonnaise.
20 small pieces contain 300 calories; 16 grams of fat and 690 mg sodium.
*For optimum heart health an adult’s daily diet should consist of roughly 2,000 calories, fewer than 55 grams of fat, and less than 2400 milligrams of sodium.
What are Phytosterols?
Phytosterols is a collective term for plant-derived sterols and stanols. Phytosterols are plant versions of cholesterol found naturally in plant cell membranes. Structurally similar to cholesterol, plant sterols can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut by competing with cholesterol to get absorbed and transported into the body. Phytosterols are good for heart health.
Plant sterols and stanols are backed by the FDA for use in lowering cholesterol naturally. They are proven to help block the absorption of dietary cholesterol into the body. Research shows that plant sterols and stanols can lower LDL cholesterol (harmful cholesterol) without having any effect on HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). In addition research is suggesting that sterols can prevent some types of cancer.
Plant sterols are safe and have been studied in detail with comprehensive research. The findings are similar across the board. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends 2 grams per day of plant sterols for use as a component of a reduced fat diet to reduce LDL and total cholesterol for people at risk for heart disease. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) Statement on Plant Sterols stated that plant sterols are effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by approximately 10-15%.
Plant sterols are naturally present in small amounts in unrefined vegetable oils, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Dietary phytosterol intakes have been estimated to range from about 150-450 mg/d in various populations. The average person consumes 250 mg daily in their diet; not enough to lower cholesterol.
To get 2 grams of plant sterols you would need to eat:
425 tomatoes or
70 slices of bread
Obviously it is impossible to get the recommended amount in your diet so supplementation with pills or phytosterol fortified foods or beverages are the best option. Phytosterol supplements are best taken with meals that contain fat.
The most common food product with added plant sterols and stanols are regular and light margarines. In the United States, plant sterols and stanols are added to an assortment of food products are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. Additionally, the Scientific Committee on Foods of the EU concluded that plant sterols and stanols added to various food products are safe for human use. However, the Committee recommended that intakes of plant sterols and stanols from food products should not exceed 3 g/d because there is no evidence of health benefits at higher intakes and there might be undesirable effects at high intakes.
There probably are some people who have very mild abnormalities in cholesterol who could get by with a sterol supplement alone, but people with higher cholesterol levels will need diet modification and cholesterol-lowering statin medication too. They should take plant sterols in addition to other therapies and benefit from the additive effect we observed in research studies.