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Avoid diabetes, eat ghee!

The so-called `healthy cooking oils' may actually be doing more harm than good. Take ghee for a change, latest studies reveal, reports Poorvi

Go back to the old traditional cooking fats namely ghee, coconut oil or mustard oil, is the advise you're likely to receive if you meet Dr. B S. Raheja, director, All India Institute of Diabetes and honorary physician S L Raheja Hospital, Mumbai.

Ghee? Is it not fattening? ``We have used these in India for centuries and we have had no problem. I firmly believe that the present epidemics of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers are possibly the result of the present high intake of these undesirable oils,'' writes Dr Raheja in the Journal of Diabetic Association of India (July-Sept 1997).

Dr Raheja and his team at AIID investigating nutritional disorders in diabetes have found that the normal Indian diet -cereals, pulses and vegetables - without oil provides the full requirement of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) 6, while being deficient in PUFA 3. The desired ratio is four of PUFA-6 to one of PUFA-3.

With the use of present-day oils, this ratio goes well, beyond 30. Any ratio above ten is unhealthy.

PUFA-3 fats are essential for growth and development in children and during pregnancy, for eyes, brain immune function and normal testicular function in males. Their deficiency increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, eye problems, some skin conditions and immune disorders.

Cooking mediums, according to Dr. Raheja, namely derived from safflower, sunflower, corn, trill, soybean or groundnut are undesirable oils. Groundnut oil has often been promoted as mono-unsaturated fat due to its ability to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, in experiments on monkeys, its use increased blocking of blood vessels of the heart.

In humans it has been shown that it increases the risk of heart disease by increasing lipoprotein considered as a risk factor of heart disease. Besides, its use also makes control of blood sugar in diabetes more difficult. Use of oils namely safflower, sunflower, corn, trill and soybean was promoted to reduce cholesterol in blood.However, their use is associated with rise in diabetes, heart diseases, kidney disease and some cancers.

Diabetologists are alarmed at the epidemic proportion of diabetes: for the next millennium it will rise to three-fourth proportion in developing countries and India is expected to have the highest number of diabetes. ``There is considerable evidence to show that this rise was due to change in the dietary cooking fat and increased consumption of fast, fatty, refined and preserved foods what may be called `junk foods,'' says Dr. Raheja.

Indians in the last two decades, have changed from their traditional cooking medium to the advocated, well-advertised `heart-friendly' oils. ``Fear psychosis generated in linking saturated fats and cholesterol to heart disease resulted in the replacement of the traditional fats,'' says Dr. Raheja.

In recent years AIID has been treating several cases of children with diabetes. When such cases are referred to Dr. Raheja and his team they go into the detailed history of the diet right from the day of conception to know what type of diet the child has received in the mother's womb, during infancy and early years of childhood.

Diabetes is becoming fairly common in children of upper socio-economic classes who consume fast foods like chole-bhature, bhajias, samosas, burgers, wafers, chips and bakery products. Even chocolates and ice-cream sold in big cities in India contain some undesirable fats.
‘When you consume such junk foods , you are likely to avoid normal health promoting or protective foods like fruits, vegetables and milk, "says Dr Raheja.

Diet can be a major factor in treating diabetes and remaining healthy too. And Dr. Raheja suggests the following:
» Use cooking fats like ghee, coconut oil or mustard oil. The intake should not exceed 500 grams per month for an individual. Which means two to three teaspoonfuls per day.
» Supplant deficient PUFA-3 by fish or the intake of fish 
Suggested intake: two to three capsules of fish oil daily.
» Take half litre of milk or curds for vitamins and minerals
including calcium.
» Give your child chappatis instead of bread slices for 
his/her school lunch.

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