Can inulin lower LDL cholesterol

Five food myths

Myth 1: Fats are bad

Fat has a bad rap. Since it contains twice the amount of energy per gram as the body's other two energy suppliers (protein and carbohydrates), it is a potential spoilsport when it comes to slim lines. It is also recognized that most fat people eat too much fat.

The healthy side of fats was only discovered in the last two decades: Depending on their chemical structure, some fats (unsaturated fats) ensure a healthy metabolism and help prevent atherosclerosis and perhaps even inflammatory diseases. In addition, many studies have shown - such as the "Nurses health study" carried out on 83,000 American nurses - that the fat content of food alone has no influence on the risk of subsequent heart or vascular diseases

The "fat question" must therefore be viewed in a differentiated manner:

Quality not quantity. Ten years ago, the world seemed okay: you just have to reduce your fat consumption to below 30% of the calories consumed, then the blood lipids and cholesterol automatically retreat and the blood vessels do not clog up so quickly - according to the assumptions of German society, for example for nutrition. In fact the cholesterol went down a total of through a low-fat diet - but in addition to the bad LDL, the proportion of good HDL cholesterol also decreased. In addition, the triglycerides in the blood rose due to the increased consumption of carbohydrates - not good for the blood vessels. Today it has become clear: the focus should be more on the quality of the fat than lying on the Quantity.

The proportion of fat in healthy Mediterranean food is up to 40%, and it's no wonder that the fats and oils used mainly consist of monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids, saturated fatty acids are rare, hydrogenated fats are practically absent.

Special text: The basics of fats

Saturated = yuck? Saturated fats aren't bad per se. Milk fat, for example, contains a fairly high proportion of saturated fats - but long-term studies have shown that people who consume dairy products are better off. Breast milk also mainly contains saturated fats, certainly not without reason. Most importantly, saturated fats provide energy to the body and with this in mind, they should be evaluated:

  • As long as the caloric balance is correct and the overall diet is balanced, there are no disadvantages to fear.
  • If you are overweight, you can do without saturated fat (such as milk fat). However, many of the valuable components of milk (such as vitamin D and conjugated linoleic acid) are dissolved in saturated fat and are absorbed together with it. In addition, fat makes food tasty - low-fat ready-made products therefore contain more sugar and flavor enhancers! This suggests that saturated fats cannot be completely avoided. This is hardly possible either, as fast food, sweets, sauces, pastries and sausage products mainly contain saturated fats.
  • Margarine or butter? Here, too, the following applies: as long as the overall caloric balance is correct, nothing speaks against butter, which is rich in saturated fatty acids. In contrast to margarine, butter is a pure food - the latter is a mixture of oils, water, skimmed milk, acidulants and emulsifiers and the oils are partially hardened.

Fat in the meat. The quality of the fat in meat varies considerably depending on the species, feed and fattening conditions. The cheapest fat mixtures are to be expected from animals that are fattened as little as possible and graze freely, in which both the proportion of omega-3 fatty acids and that of conjugated linoleic acid are higher.

cholesterol (also Cholesterol called) is an important part of the cell walls and a starting material for the production of hormones and bile acids. The level of cholesterol in the blood is influenced by many factors, including our genetic makeup, how much we exercise and what fats we eat:

  • Hydrogenated and saturated fats increase bad LDL cholesterol - especially when we eat beyond our energy needs.
  • Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, increase the good HDL cholesterol.

The cholesterol taken in with food, on the other hand, only has any influence on the minority Cholesterol levels in blood. In two thirds to three quarters of people, the cholesterol level is regulated independently of the cholesterol intake from food (doctors call this people Hyporesponders). For the rest, a higher intake of cholesterol is reflected in moderately rising cholesterol levels, but since both bad and good cholesterol rise, a harmful effect cannot be assumed across the board. In any case, the fact that not eating breakfast eggs is good for the heart is an over-inflated medical myth of the 1970s.

Trans fats. Trans fats are the really bad guys among fats. These arise mainly when fats are hardened in the food industry and when oils are heated to high temperatures. Although it is well known that these fats have many health disadvantages, they are still found in many industrially produced, high-fat foods and in deep-fried fast food (but also in ice cream, snacks, bag soups, biscuits and industrially produced confectionery and baked goods, especially those with cream fillings).

In Germany, fewer trans fats are consumed in an international comparison (the USA is the front runner here), but here too they make up at least 1% of the average energy intake, which is around 2 g per day. According to recent research results, it is estimated that a daily consumption of more than 5 g increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 25%. And how quickly this value can be reached is shown by tests carried out by product testers: over half of the fast food meals tested in Germany contain more than 5 g of trans fats.

Scientists estimate that trans fats are responsible for around 6% of all deaths in the US - making them far more toxic than many of the now banned pesticides. In Denmark, therefore, since 2004 foods with a trans fat content above 2% of the total fat used have been banned.

Avoiding them is not that easy: You can generally do without fast food and the particularly contaminated industrially produced foods. However, since, despite an extremely critical assessment by the Federal Office for Risk Assessment, there has not yet been an obligation to label, the individual foods are often difficult to assess. Because the now legally prescribed labeling of hydrogenated fats says nothing about the trans fat content; some hydrogenated fats contain less than 1% trans fats, others up to 70%.

Myth 2: Fiber is only good for relieving constipation

100 years ago the “young savages” of science at the time, the chemists, had a problem: There were a number of food components that were apparently useless because they are excreted practically unchanged. What could be more natural than to call them fiber?

Insoluble fiber. These Fiber have now had an amazing career, in the course of which they even got a new name: Insoluble fiber They are called today - insoluble because they are not dissolved in the body, and fibrous materials because they are actually vegetable fibers, mainly from vegetables and grain husks. It is now undisputed that these fibers - such as cellulose or lignin - are extremely healthy. They keep the bowels going in young and old, and regular intake also lowers the cholesterol level.

The concerns that have been raised over and over again, those that arise in the outer layers of the wholemeal bowl Phytic acid and Lectins could impair the utilization of iron and zinc, are not valid in an overall balanced diet. On the one hand, wholemeal flours contain up to six times the amount of iron, zinc and magnesium compared to normal flour, and on the other hand, the content of phytic acid, for example, is significantly reduced by the preparation - especially in the sourdough.

Soluble fiber. Also soluble fiber (Oligofructosaccharides) come partly from the peel of fruits and vegetables, they are also contained in the plant cell walls, but also in oats and whey. They are large, rather complex sugar molecules such as Inulin or the Oligofructose. In contrast to its indigestible namesake, the soluble fiber can be recycled - but only with the help of certain bacteria of the intestinal flora (also known as Probiotics be referred to, e.g. B. Lactobacilli). These "probiotic" inhabitants of the human large intestine use the soluble fibers to generate energy and are thus promoted and cared for. Through this as prebiotic This creates a balanced, healthy intestinal flora, which has long-term effects on the immune system as well as on the metabolism. The short-chain fatty acids released into the blood in large quantities by a healthy intestine, for example, affect blood clotting and delay the rise in blood sugar after a meal. Due to this property they could often also be called Prebiotics - soluble fibers counteract the development of a metabolic syndrome. In addition, soluble fibers ensure a favorable blood lipid profile.

Because of this beneficial effect on the metabolism, the officially recommended amount for vegetables and fruits has been increased from three to five servings a day in recent years. Cooking does little harm to soluble fibers.

Many studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system depends more on the amount of (soluble) fiber in the diet than on the amount of fats consumed.

Myth 3: Vitamins are what make fruit so valuable

As far as vitamins are concerned, humans are almost completely dependent on an external supply - these auxiliary substances are required in small quantities for the functioning of the organs, the metabolism and the body's defenses. If a vitamin is missing over a long period of time, symptoms of illness can sometimes be drastic, such as that which used to be rampant among seafarers scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency). In individual cases (especially with vitamin A, vitamin D and the provitamin beta-carotene) an oversupply is dangerous (more on vitamin deficiency and oversupply).

For a long time, vitamins were considered to be a miracle cure, and even today many people are of the opinion that vitamin pills can correct many nutritional errors. But:

  • In today's nutritional conditions, the need for vitamins is covered by a balanced diet. A bottleneck threatens only if people cannot feed themselves adequately due to illness or if the increased need for vitamins in certain phases of life (in adolescents or pregnant women) is not met due to unfavorable eating habits, e.g. B. with some diets or special forms of nutrition such as vegan diet.
  • There is no scientific evidence that vitamin supplements bring health benefits to healthy people who eat well.

Myth 4: We eat too sour

If the diet is too acidic and the body becomes too acidic, a wide variety of symptoms such as B. persistent fatigue, headache, rheumatism or infection tendencies. But, is this really the truth?

Acid and basic foods. Whether a food has a basic or acidic effect depends on its ability to bind or release hydrogen atoms, and thus also on the content of basic salts. These salts bind and neutralize acid.

Interesting: the taste often does not help to differentiate between alkaline and acidic foods. Some sour-tasting foods such as vinegar or lemon have an alkaline effect in the organism, and red wine, which is often associated with acid, also has an alkaline effect in the metabolism - sweet or neutral-tasting foods such as sweets, bread or pasta, on the other hand, have an acidic effect.

For example, the influence of certain foods on the daily acid excretion is said to be PRAL factor state (if it is positive, the food predominantly forms acids, if it is negative, it predominantly forms bases).

The acid-base balance. The human body relies on a careful balance between acidic and basic substances. This balance that the doctor has with the is particularly critical PH value expresses, by the blood. The normal blood pH of 7.40 should only fluctuate by about 0.05, otherwise the metabolism will no longer function smoothly.

So that the blood and the other body fluids do not exceed or fall below this normal range, the body has chemical buffer systems. These are able to neutralize excess acids and bases if necessary. The body is also able to metabolize acids in the liver and excrete them through the kidneys. Also the lungs can have an imbalance in the Acid-base balance help to compensate by either increasing the amount of carbon dioxide excreted or retaining it.

Disorders of the acid-base balance. What all these regulation options have in common is that they work perfectly in everyday life. However, they fail if the body has too much or too little acids or bases or if the self-regulation is interfered with by infusions or medication such as diuretics.

From one acute hyperacidity (metabolic acidosis) one speaks when the pH of the arterial blood is below 7.35. Acidification of this kind, which requires treatment, is particularly likely in the case of severe metabolic disorders such as diabetic coma, shock, kidney failure or severe, long-standing diarrhea. Breathing-related acidosis (respiratory acidosis) is also possible if too little carbon dioxide is exhaled, i.e. if the patient breathes too little and too shallowly. Common causes of this are lung diseases such as asthma and COPD.

Acidification as a cause of illness. The vast majority of the acids that the body has to buffer on a daily basis do not come from food. Rather, they occur as part of routine metabolism, i.e. solely because we burn nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates and protein at all. And the body is well prepared for this acid attack: A healthy person has around 20 times as many free base molecules in the body as free acid molecules and thus a huge buffer that protects them from over-acidification. If we eat too many acid-forming foods, there will be no “over-acidification” - the body will at best become less alkaline. A reduced buffer capacity is quickly compensated for and therefore does not lead to diseases. It is therefore not surprising that doctors keep finding that the buffer capacity is still preserved in people who are allegedly suffering from diseases such as rheumatism or skin diseases that are allegedly caused by overacidification.

Evolutionary biology also speaks against the theory of acidification as an explanation for today's diseases of civilization: Humans colonize all climatic zones of the earth and find extremely different food sources there in terms of acidity - and can still live healthy in every climatic zone. The myth that we eat too sour is therefore half true at best. It is true that acidifying foods make up an increasingly large proportion of our diet, but the body can usually cope with them without any problems. No evidence whatsoever could be produced to support the concept of permanent acidosis from food as a cause of disease. The measures recommended against over-acidification are going in the right direction, albeit for different reasons: a lot of vegetables and fruit and relatively little meat as well as regular exercise and sufficient relaxation are definitely good for your health.
  • - run by a nutritionist: informative website sponsored by a pharmaceutical company contains, among other things. a table of the PRAL values ​​of around 100 foods and luxury foods.

Myth 5: We should drink more

If the usual advice goes, we all drink too little: we should drink at least 2 liters of water throughout the day in order not to get tired or even sick. What is right about that? Should we drink more than our thirst demands?

On the one hand: the need for water varies greatly from person to person, mainly because it closely to the calorie consumption is coupled.The general rule of thumb for medical professionals is: the body needs 1 ml of water for every calorie consumed in the metabolism. A light-weight woman with an office workplace needs around 1,800 ml (almost 2 l) of water with a daily energy consumption of perhaps 1,800 calories, a muscular heavy worker, on the other hand, can easily double or triple this.

Second: The water that the body needs does not necessarily have to be drunk in a glass. This is because the vegetable and fruit-based diet preferred by many health-conscious people contains a lot of fluids - the water content of an apple is around 85% and milk also consists of over 90% water.

And thirdly: a healthy body reliably reports a lack of water as thirst. So if you drink when you are thirsty or when you feel like it, you are on the safe side.

On the other hand, this is a huge problem for sick people or people with dementia: They feel their thirst less or cannot pursue it. With these people it can very well be said that they should drink more regularly.

A now famous study at the Boston Marathon showed that precautionary drinking can achieve the opposite of what it intended: Those runners who drank a lot and often as a precaution were far more likely to experience disruption of their water and electrolyte balance after the run.

Conclusion: When it comes to fluids, we would do well not to drink according to any norm tables, but to pay attention to our body's signals.


Dr. med. Herbert Renz-Polster in: Gesundheit heute, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). | last changed on at 13:53