To Your Health: Lessons From the Chinese Diet

Learn about Eastern cultures and diets, which can encourage lower blood cholesterol than American counterparts, plus more information on health.

  • Stir Fry Vegetables
    A six-year study of Chinese diet and disease patterns links a traditional Eastern diet—with its greater emphasis on vegetables and small amounts of animal products—to lower rates of heart disease and colon cancer.

  • Stir Fry Vegetables

When blood cholesterol is under 180 mg/dl, heart disease is uncommon; below 150, it's practically nonexistent. In China, the average level is 127. In Western countries, it's 212. Dietary differences between China and the West—such as fat intake, which health experts advise us to keep under 30% of our daily caloric intake—may account for much of that difference. A six-year study of Chinese diet and disease patterns, the most comprehensive ever undertaken on diet and health, has also shown that, except for high levels of sodium, the Chinese diet—which, as you probably know, is largely vegetarian with small amounts of animal products—is nutritionally superior, even in iron intake.

Surveying the Chinese enabled researchers to evaluate what effects such low cholesterol levels have on the human system. It turns out that not only does heart disease decline, but colon cancer does too; this suggests that earlier studies that linked low cholesterol levels to colon cancer were misleading. In fact, the rate of heart disease among men in China is one-sixteenth that in the U.S. (among women, one-sixth), while the rate for colon cancer is only about 40%.

Help for Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Living

Unlike other nutrition-oriented newsletters, Easy Low Fat Living offers little news or reporting, but it does have food charts and plenty of recipes, plus tips on lowering the fat content of your own favorite recipes.

For further guidance, Cholesterol Control: An Eater's Guide offers a half-hour tour of one family's successful approach to low-fat shopping, cooking, eating out and entertaining. At the 19th annual National Educational Film and Video Festival, the video won a Bronze Apple award. 

Anticancer Tobacco?

A California biotech firm hopes to field-test a genetic engineering process that makes tobacco plants mass-produce proteins used in anticancer drugs. If successful—and financially practical—the technology could turn tobacco farmers into allies in the war on cancer.

Biosource Genetics Corporation of Vacaville, California, has developed a genetic engineering technique that "hijacks" the tobacco plant's genetic machinery and forces it to produce the cancer-fighting proteins interferon and interleukin 2. According to the company, the plant could even be used to produce melanin, a natural pigment that protects skin from the cancer-causing effects of ultraviolet radiation; it could be the ultimate sunscreen.

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