Lowcarbezine! 8 November 2000

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Hey, Gang --

Oh, boy, am I glad I started early this week.  I stayed up to watch the
election returns, and got almost no sleep!  I'm not at my most brilliant
today, I must say.  Kinda getting by on caffeine and adrenaline at this

(For my international readers, who may not be paying attention:  Our
presidential race is the closest in our history, and to complicate
further, there's been a whole lot of weirdness with the ballots in
Florida.  At this point, almost a full day after the polls closed, we
still don't know who our next president will be -- and it's possible
that we may not know until December.)

I absolutely refuse to play partisan politics in this newsletter; that's
not what Lowcarbezine! is about.  But I would like to say God bless
America -- because right now, we can sure use all the help we can get!

All of that notwithstanding, I have a *beautiful* pecan praline pie
crust cooling in the kitchen, just waiting for a sugar free pumpkin pie
filling!  It shows every sign of being a huge success -- if it is, it
will probably be the low carb dessert of choice two weeks hence.

In the meanwhile, there's lots of good Thanksgiving planning tips in
here today, and some health information, too.

Read on!



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Low Carb, High Cholesterol

No doubt most of you are aware that a majority of low carbohydrate
dieters experience a positive change in their bloodwork -- a drop in
triglycerides and a rise in HDL (good) cholesterol, often accompanied by
a drop in LDL and total cholesterol as well.

However, this is not the case for everyone.  Just recently I've had a
couple of panicky emails from readers who have discovered, to their
dismay, that their total cholesterol has gone up, sometimes
dramatically, on their low carb diet.  These folks say that they've lost
weight, and feel better, while low carbing, so they really don't want to
give it up, but on the other hand, they're alarmed about their
cholesterol levels, and I can't blame them.

Why does this happen?  The best theory anyone has is that there may be
more than one mechanism by which blood cholesterol levels are raised --
some people's blood cholesterol goes up solely in response to high
insulin levels, and those people are the ones who experience a
gratifying drop in cholesterol when their low carbohydrate diet gets
their insulin levels under control.  On the other hand, there appears to
be a group of folks -- smaller than the insulin responding group, but
still pretty sizable -- also get high cholesterol in response to a diet
high in saturated fats.  For these people, eating unlimited red meat,
butter, cream, and cheese can indeed lead to higher cholesterol.

There is also a theory -- although a minority theory -- that it isn't
the saturated fat per se, but rather a specific fatty acid, called
arachodonic acid, that is found in many foods that are also high in

(This is as good a place as any to point out that blood cholesterol as a
predictor of heart disease is indeed theoretical at best.  The
*majority* of people who have heart attacks or bypass operations never
had high blood cholesterol to begin with, so clearly there's something
else going on.  Further, high blood cholesterol levels have only been
shown to be a risk factor in men under 65 or so, and in women who are
past menopause, but under age 65.  In the elderly, and in pre-menopausal
women, high blood cholesterol has not been shown to be a risk factor for
heart disease.  Also important to know is that it is very possible to
have cholesterol which is too *low*, a fact which hasn't gotten much
publicity.  Once your total cholesterol drops below 170 or so, you're at
greater theoretical risk of death from a variety of causes, including
cancer -- some scientists even hypothesize that cholesterol is
protective against cancer.  And middle aged and older men with low
cholesterol are at higher risk for death from suicide and violence -- it
seems to affect mood quite negatively.)

So what do you do if, after finding that a low carbohydrate diet makes
you feel better and lose weight, you discover it's also made your total
cholesterol number jump?

First of all, look more closely at those numbers!  It is *very* possible
for your total cholesterol to go up, but your theoretical risk of heart
disease to go *down*.    In some cases, the jump in total
cholesterol is predominantly a jump in HDL, which is a good thing, not a
bad thing!   Your total cholesterol is not the most important thing --
the ratios of your bloodwork are *vastly* more important.

So what should those ratios be?  Get yourself a copy of your bloodwork
and a pocket calculator.  Now, divide the total cholesterol number by
the HDL number; the result should be 4 or below.  Divide your LDL number
by your HDL number; the result should be 3.55 or below for a man, 3.22
or below for a woman.  Divide your triglyceride number by your HDL
number; the result should be less than 2.  If these ratios work out
okay, take a deep breath and calm down!

But maybe they're not okay, and maybe your LDL has gone up as much, or
more, than your HDL.  Happens.  What do you do if you want to stay on
your low carbohydrate diet, but your doctor is insisting that you get
your total cholesterol and LDL numbers down?

* Eat more chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of pork. (Today's pork, at
least in the US, is *far* leaner than it used to be.  Lean cuts of pork
are some of the leanest meat you can buy.)  Eat less beef. When you eat
beef, choose the leanest cuts.  If you can find grass fed beef instead
of grain fed beef (good luck!), it has a preferable fatty acid profile.

* Eat more *fish*, especially fatty fish, like salmon.  Fish oils do
very good things for your cholesterol levels.  If you don't like fish,
it's a very good idea to take fish oil capsules every day.

* Cut back on butter, cream, sour cream, and full fat cheese.  Do *not*
substitute margarine for butter!  The hydrogenated fats in margarine are
*worse* for your cholesterol levels than the naturally saturated fats in
butter.  However, reduced fat cheeses and sour cream may be a good idea,
and they're a couple of low fat products that usually aren't loaded with
sugar instead.  Read the labels. You can use plain yogurt in place of
sour cream, for that matter.  Count 4 grams of carb per cup of plain

* Make sure you've gotten *all* the hydrogenated oils out of your diet
-- this would be things like vegetable shortening (Crisco-type) and
margarine.  Hydrogenated oils are now suspected of being the *worst*
sort of fat for raising cholesterol.  Read the labels on *everything*;
hydrogenated oils are like corn syrup in the way that they sneak in to
all sorts of foods you'd never expect them in.

* To make up for the saturated fat calories you're cutting out, add more
monounsaturated fats to your diet.  Sauté in olive oil.  Eat nuts,
especially raw nuts.  Eat avocados.  Eat sunflower and pumpkin seeds. 
If you want a
butter substitute with reduced saturated fat, try whipping a stick of
butter with an equal amount of sunflower, olive, or avocado oil, adding
a dash of salt. 
Pour into a tub and use like soft margarine.

* Increase your intake of soluble fiber.  One excellent way to do this
is to add flax seed meal to your diet -- this is a great thing to do
because it also contains the same heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering
fats as are found in
fish, so you get a double benefit.  To make flax seed meal, grind the
flax seeds in a blender until they're fairly finely ground.  This will
take a while; they're stubborn little things.  Do only a half a cup or
so at a time, and keep the meal in a tightly lidded jar in the
refrigerator.  I take this by simply putting a big spoonful on my tongue
-- it doesn't have a strong taste -- and swallowing it down with a big
glass of water. 

* Another good way to get flax seed into your diet is to add some -- at
least a tablespoonful, and two tablespoonsful is better -- to a protein
shake every day.  A protein shake is a great fast breakfast, especially
if you're a person who gets tired of eggs.  The flax seed won't change
the flavor of the shake much, although it will make it thicker.

* If you get plenty of fish or fish oil, and don't want to take flax,
add a sugar free fiber product, such as sugar free Metamucil or FiberCon
tablets, to your diet.  The point of adding soluble fiber, by the way,
is that they bind up bile -- a digestive fluid --  so that it is passed
out of the body.  Since bile contains cholesterol, the body has to use
some of the cholesterol in your blood to make more, and cholesterol
levels drop.  *Only* soluble fiber will do this.  Bran and/or bran
crackers, being insoluble fiber,  won't help.

*  You can try cutting back on egg yolks, since they're high in
arachodonic acid.  I can't recommend egg substitutes; I don't trust all
the chemicals in them.  I think that throwing away every other egg yolk
is a better approach.  I'm also reluctant to suggest that you give up
egg yolks entirely, since that's where the vast majority of the
nutritional value of the egg lies -- the vitamins, the lecithin, the
healthy fats like DHA.  But if you've been eating three or four egg
yolks a day, you might start throwing away every other egg yolk.

* Get some exercise!  Exercise is a good way to raise your HDL levels
and improve your bloodwork ratios.  

* So, for that matter, is moderate drinking.  A glass of red wine with
dinner may bring your HDL up, thus improving your ratios.  However, it
may well slow or stop your weight loss as well!  Up to you.

* Soy products lower total cholesterol.  However, I hesitate to
recommend them, since soy is appearing to be problematic in other ways
-- it can cause goiter and other thyroid problems, has been linked to
Alzheimer's Disease, and is suspected to cause genital defects in boy
babies.  There's even some feeling that despite the propaganda to the
contrary, soy products may actually *raise* a woman's risk of breast
cancer.  I'd try the other stuff first.

* Eat more garlic, or take garlic pills -- keeping in mind that garlic
has about a gram of carbohydrate per clove, of course.  In clinical
studies, garlic lowered total cholesterol by 10-12% -- by lowering LDL
by 15%, and *raising* HDL a bit!  Lowered triglycerides, too.

* Make sure you're taking a good vitamin/mineral supplement.  This is
very important. It is even more important if you try the following

* Consider taking niacin (vitamin B3).  Niacin in large doses -- a gram
or more per day -- is very effective for lowering cholesterol.  It is
not without potential side effects, however.  Like the cholesterol
lowering drugs, niacin can, in these large doses, cause liver
inflammation.  Also, niacin causes a "flush" -- it causes all your blood
vessels to dilate, so that you get red all over for about 20 minutes,
and you *itch*.  It's harmless, but can be quite alarming if you don't
expect it.  (When I was in the health food business, I used to have
people return niacin because they were certain they were allergic to
it!  I had to explain that niacin does that to everybody.)  Niacin can
also improve mood, so if you have high cholesterol, and also are subject
to emotional carb cravings, this might be an interesting way to go.  But
keep in mind that it takes *big* doses of niacin -- as I said, a gram or
more a day -- to lower cholesterol, and at those doses, it's really more
a drug than a nutrient.  Get your doctor to monitor you!!!  


Cruise!  Cruise!  Cruise!

Here's hoping that all of you who want to go on the Low Carb High Life
Cruise, January 7-14, 2001,  have already made your reservations,
because according to our cruise planner, the Carnival Victory -- the
biggest, newest, most luxurious ship in the Carnival fleet -- is almost
full up!  If you've been thinking you'll go, but you *haven't* made your
reservations yet, you'd better do it NOW, or you'll be waving to us from
the dock as we set sail for the glorious Western Caribbean!

Here's some of the stuff we're going to do:

* Check out all the latest low carb diet books and low carb cook books!
* Learn metabolism-accelerating breathing exercises!
* Trade our best low carb diet tips and tricks!
* Sample lots of low carb specialty products!
* Learn Low Carb Restaurant Ordering 101!
* Hear about much of the latest research in low carb nutrition!
* Go on a Low Carb Adventure on shore -- pick a local restaurant and see
what we can order that's low carb!

All of this, along with glorious shore excursions at our beautiful

* See the historic sights at Chancanab, in Cozumel Mexico!  Swim with
the dolphins!
* Swim with the rays in Grand Cayman!
* Climb beautiful Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, or just shop
at the local "Straw Market"!

And then there's your free time on the Carnival Victory, where all your
entertainment -- except for gambling, of course! -- is included in the
price of your cruise package -- shows, dancing, movies, activities,
swimming, work out facilities, you name it, not to mention plenty of
food, glorious food!

But space is almost gone!  If you want to be on the cruise, you'd better
reserve a room *NOW*, because there may not be one tomorrow!

So forget gray skies and slushy streets!  Come spend a week in the
Caribbean with me and new low carb diet pals, for the winter vacation of
a lifetime!

Call 1-800-529-2469 TODAY for current pricing!


Turkey Day Menu Planning

Do you believe it?  Thanksgiving's almost here!  My favorite holiday! 
(Hey, I'm a Mayflower descendant.)  I just love Thanksgiving, but I'd
have to be seriously brain damaged not to realize that it's the
beginning of a 6 week long minefield for anyone who's concerned about
nutrition and/or their weight.  So let's talk a little bit about
planning the menu for Thanksgiving.

Traditional Thanksgiving Day Menus vary quite a bit from family to
family, and from region to region as well.  The centerpiece of the meal,
however, is constant, and gloriously low carb -- the TURKEY!! Yes, you
may have all the turkey you like!  Beyond that, however, a bit of
planning may be needed.

First, however, let me say that if ever there were a day simply *made*
for an Indulgence, it's Thanksgiving Day, and if you were to decide that
you were simply going to take a vacation from your low carb way of
eating for a day, and eat whatever you jolly well please, I wouldn't
argue with you.  (I would, however, want to talk strategy with you, and
I will do so next week.)  Further, you may going to someone else's
house, or to a restaurant, for Thanksgiving Dinner, at which point
you'll have no control over the menu. 

But if you are the cook (or one of the cooks!), and you are also a low
carb dieter who doesn't want to kick off the Holiday Season with an
extra five pounds to lose, you may want to do a little subtle finagling
with the menu to give you the maximum feasting for the minimum carb
load.  So let's talk menus.

First of all, you'll find some ideas for reducing the carb count of the
turkey stuffing in the Cooking Low Carb! section below.  Please note
that this will not give you low carb stuffing -- I'm not sure such a
thing is possible.  But you can reduce the carb count, and this may make
say, a half-cup serving of stuffing only a minor indulgence, instead of
a BIG, HUGE, HONKIN' indulgence.

What else do you serve at Thanksgiving Dinner, along with the turkey and
stuffing? It seems to me that some of the more traditional foods would

* Candied Sweet Potatoes.  No way to make these low carb, I'm afraid. 
However, there's no law saying that you must add lots of sugar to what
is already a sweet-tasting vegetable.  Actually, sweet potatoes are very
nice simply baked in their jackets and buttered, and while they are a
high carb food, they do have a lower blood sugar impact than white
potatoes.  Also good to keep in mind is the fact that although we tend
to use the terms "sweet potato" and "yam" interchangeably, they are
actually different plants -- and yams, while high carb, are lower carb
than sweet potatoes -- a 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes has about 20 grams of
usable carb, while the same quantity of yams has about 16 grams of
usable carb.  

* Green Beans.  Seems to me that the most common form that green beans
take in the modern American Thanksgiving Dinner is the Green Bean
Casserole, made with cream of mushroom soup, and topped with canned
fried onions.  I have been unable to find a carb count for those canned
onions in my food count books.  (I could go to the grocery store and
look, but I'm on deadline!)  However, it is good to know that there is
now a low carb version of cream of mushroom soup on the market.  It's a
mix, and it's available from Low Carb Grocery.
http://www.lowcarbgrocery.com .  Keep in mind that if you use the low
mushroom soup mix, you need to use *half the water* listed on the
label to get the same concentration as the condensed canned stuff. You
might consider using simple sautéed onions instead of the canned,
breaded ones, to cut the carb count even further.

In my family, we've always served Green Beans Almondine for Thanksgiving
Dinner.  I like these better than the Green Bean Casserole, and they're
much lower carb.  I think they're more elegant, too.  Simply cook the
beans -- fresh or frozen, please, not canned! -- until tender-crisp.  At
the same time, sauté slivered almonds (Buy them slivered!  You don't
need to spend Thanksgiving Day trying to sliver almonds.) in plenty of
butter, using medium heat and a heavy-bottomed skillet.  You'll need to
stand there and stir the almonds, or they'll burn on you, sure as you're
born, and who wants to start cussing on a holiday?  When the almonds are
golden brown, simply mixed the almonds and butter into the cooked,
drained green beans.  Easy.

* Mashed Potatoes.  Hopeless, of course.  There is no such thing as a
low carb potato.  However, I personally find pureed cauliflower to be a
*superb* substitute for mashed potatoes, and may well make them for
myself, even though the family will be eating mashed spuds.

* Mashed Turnips.  Very traditional!  And a half-cup of mashed turnips
has just a little over 3 g. of usable carb.  In my family we usually
have rutabaga instead, which is higher carb, but still lower than

* Cranberry Sauce.  This one's easy!  There's a recipe for no-sugar
cranberry sauce in the Cooking Low Carb! section below.  And it's so
good that if you don't tell the family, they probably won't even figure
out that it's sugar free.

Here's some suggestions for some other foods you might serve for
Thanksgiving, to round out the menu without rounding out your waistline:

* Shellfish in some form.  The Pilgrims ate plenty of shellfish, and
shellfish with Thanksgiving Dinner is traditional in New England.  You
might serve clams or oysters on the half-shell as an appetizer, if you
like them.  Shrimp cocktail might be a nice appetizer, too. 

* Soup.  A first course of soup would be lovely! Small servings,
though, just a cup of soup, so as to leave room for the turkey.  Here's
a recipe for an easy, low carb clam chowder I've run across:

Quick Green Chowder

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 cans minced clams
2 cups half and half

Put everything in the blender or food processor, and puree.  Pour into a
saucepan, bring to a simmer (use very low heat, and don't boil!), and
simmer for five
minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

(Should you choose to make this, read the labels on those clam cans! 
Some canned clams include -- believe it or not -- *sugar*.  Candied
clams, anyone?)

Another nice, easy soup to serve would be to take quality packaged beef
broth -- Health Valley brand or Kitchen Essentials -- and add sliced
fresh mushrooms and onions which have been sautéed together in butter,
plus a few tablespoons of dry sherry.

Or, for that matter, you could get the seafood bisque or cream of
asparagus low carb soup mixes from Low Carb Grocery, and serve one of
those.  http://www.lowcarbgrocery.com

* Salad.  This isn't a Thanksgiving tradition, since it's unlikely the
Pilgrims had salad, but as you know, I love salad!  And if you make it
with an interesting variety of greens, including some "red greens", like
raddichio and red leaf lettuce, it will be festive and beautiful.

* Celery hearts and olives in a cut glass dish are a standard on the
holiday table at my mom's house.  Wouldn't be Thanksgiving without
them.  I love them both, and they're both quite low carb.

* Another cooked vegetable.  Broccoli, perhaps, or asparagus, although
it's out of season.  Artichokes.  Brussels sprouts.  Whatever your
family favors.

Then there's the question of *dessert*.  The two most traditional
Thanksgiving desserts are, of course, pumpkin pie and apple pie.  Apple
pie is, I'm afraid, just about impossible to de-carb; apples are a
fairly high sugar fruit, the crust is full of flour, and it would be
unsatisfactory to substitute Splenda for the sugar -- you wouldn't get
that syrupy texture that apple pie traditionally has.

Pumpkin pie, however, is a different matter.  Pumpkin is not terribly
high in carbohydrate, and much of the texture of pumpkin pie comes from
milk or cream and eggs -- staples of our diet.  The crust, of course, is
an issue, but I'm working on a pecan praline crust, which is looking
good! Also a
possibility is Pumpkin Cheesecake; I'll be trying that, too.

Start planning that Thanksgiving menu right away, and you'll be able to
feast without paying for it later!


Here We Go Again!

Heard the latest about colon cancer?  You may recall that last spring,
the New England Journal of Medicine published two research studies on
colon cancer and fiber, both of which indicated that a low fat/high
fiber diet did nothing to prevent colon cancer.  This finding caused
great confusion and confoundment among the researchers, all of whom had
begun from the premise that such a diet would, indeed, prevent cancer.

You know what has happened now?  The Journal of the National Cancer
Institute has published a study by researchers from Harvard which shows
that eating fruits and vegetables does nothing to prevent colon cancer

This is a *huge* surprise.  Even people who weren't convinced of the
value of fiber per se were certain that fruits and vegetables would have
a protective effect.  But after analysis of the dietary habits of 88,764
women and 47,325 men, over 16 years time, no such protective effect was

Interestingly, two specific high fiber foods, legumes and prunes, were
found to have an impact on colorectal cancer risk -- they both
*increased* risks of colorectal cancer in women.  The researchers point
out that the reason for this is unclear, but I would point out that
these are two of the highest carbohydrate sources of fiber.  

The researchers are insisting that, despite the recent shaking of
the foundations of dietary theories of cancer prevention, it's still a
sure bet that a diet rich in red meat increases risks.  Given the
torpedoing of other widely held dietary assumptions on the subject, I
find myself wondering how they can be so sure, although if you have a
strong family history of colon cancer, I wouldn't blame you for eating
more poultry and fish, and less beef.

Don't interpret this report as a suggestion that you stop eating low
fruits and vegetables.  There seems to be little question that they are
indeed valuable, and they're certainly the source of much of the variety
and interest in our low carb diets.  I just find it fascinating to watch
the ongoing series of medical studies that are slowly demolishing low
fat/high fiber diet theory -- and the desperate attempts of the medical
establishment to cling to it, come what may.


Reader Review of _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_

I cannot say enough GREAT THINGS about this book. Mrs. Carpender is so
real. The book is easy to understand and its from a real woman's point
of view. All of the advise is great, and you can tell that this lady has
really done her research, and combined it with her own experiences. Very
easy to relate to. I intend to read it over and over again as a
reference manual, inspiration, and for when times get hard. I'm going to
order additional copies for all of my girl friends who keep asking me
I lost so much weight. THANK YOU Dana, for sharing your experiences,
wit, and humor in writing this book, and making it plain, and enjoyable
at the same time. May God continue to bless you in your low carb

MJH Wallace, Washington, DC 

Thank you so much, MJH!  (Must say, I really like that part about
ordering extra copies for your friends... ;-D )

If you'd like to read the first chapter of _How I Gave Up My Low Fat
Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_ for FREE, you'll find it at
http://www.holdthetoast.com , along with the foreword and the table of
contents.  And a FAQ, and a whole bunch of other stuff!

You can order the book through the website, or you can go to
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0966883101/lowcarbohysoluti and
find it at Amazon.com, along with a whole pile of other nice things
people have said about it!

Or, for that matter, you can visit http://www.carbsmart.com , and order
it from Carb Smart, where it's currently on sale!

If you'd like to buy the book from a bookstore, you'll probably have to
special order it.  If you're in the USA, this shouldn't be a problem --
just tell them that you want to order _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and
Lost Forty Pounds!_ by Dana Carpender, and that the ISBN is
0-9668831-0-1.  You could also tell them that they can order it through
Baker and Taylor; one of the country's biggest book wholesalers.  We do
ship to Canadian bookstores.

If you're outside of the US, your best bet is to order from Amazon.com.
We can ship internationally from here at Hold the Toast, too, but we're
not set up for it big-time like Amazon is.  If you're a book wholesaler
outside the US and interested in carrying _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet
and Lost Forty Pounds!_, we'd love to hear from you!


That's it for this week!  See you next week, with Thanksgiving Dessert

Dana W. Carpender

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