On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

Statins Not a License to Neglect Healthful Diet

DEAR DR. BLONZ: There is a constant argument at our house about the role of statins in helping determine what you should eat. If a person who formerly had elevated cholesterol takes a statin drug and it succeeds in bringing their level into the normal range, is there any reason, aside from weight gain, why they should not eat high-fat, high-cholesterol foods? I am frustrated by this person bragging that they are now insulated from the dangers of their diet. -- M.T., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

DEAR M.T.: Medications to control an elevated blood cholesterol level should not be thought of as a license to eat and live in an unhealthful manner. Taking a statin, or any cholesterol-lowering drug, provides an artificial means to correct a symptom of imbalance in the body. Whether due to a genetic predisposition, poor diet or lifestyle factors, the cholesterol becomes elevated for a reason. It makes little sense to then dismiss the problem with thoughts that a pharmaceutically lowered cholesterol level fixes everything. It may provide a means to correct the symptom, but it does not relieve us of the responsibility to treat our bodies with care.

If you need the medication, by all means use it. Wouldn’t it also be a worthy goal to make the appropriate dietary and lifestyle adjustments so that the need for the drug was reduced or eliminated? Evidence shows that such changes go well beyond better numbers on a lab test; that would indeed be something to brag about.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I buy raw almonds and bake them in a toaster oven at 250 degrees for about half an hour. Does roasting the almonds cause the oil in the nuts to undergo a change that turns it into saturated fat? I have also heard that heating almonds diminishes their nutritional value, specifically vitamin B. Is this the case? Are raw almonds preferable if nutrition and health value are the only considerations? -- M.C., San Diego

DEAR M.C.: The roasting of nuts does not affect the minerals they contain, and it does not make their oils more saturated. Roasting is associated with decreases in -- but not the elimination of -- a few vitamins, but this should not be considered a significant impact on their considerable value as a healthful food.

The choice between raw and roasted almonds, or other nuts and seeds, should be based on your personal preference. I tend to have almonds and peanuts available nearby and consider them to be excellent food.

Send questions to: “On Nutrition,” Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to questions@blonz.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.