Fast Food: A Cardio-renal Bullet?

by Dr. Carlos Cuervo, Florida National University Faculty Member

Fast Food: A Cardio-renal Bullet?For the last 30 years scientific journals have reported the consequences of lipids and salt in the etiology of cardio-vascular and renal diseases. Several studies have recommended diets and provided nutritional values of different foods as a means of creating awareness and protect our body. In fact, lipids have been studied in animals and human trials in order to learn their best use. The American Heart Association (AHA) and The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) have done a deep review of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, as well as free radicals, before they published their current recommendations.

Saturated fatty acids (SFA) are “chemically saturated” in hydrogen atoms, which differ from the unsaturated fatty acid (UFA) that are less hydrogenated, and therefore, more unstable. SFA are mostly solid (butter, lard, bacon, some
margarines, coconut and palm oils, etc.) and UFA are mostly liquid (canola oil,
olive oil, safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, some margarines, etc.)

Fast food industries should understand that when fat is used for cooking, the higher and the longer it is heated, it will modify the chemical structures in them. This is mainly true in UFA. They produce “Free Radicals” (FR), which explain the rancidificationof lipids (rancid oils) not only when they are being used to prepare the food, but also when they are exposed to light or oxygen. The prolonged storage of fat or its long maintenance, once the container has been opened, it is not recommended for the same reason. FR
steal electrons from stable molecules because they are chemical structures with
impair number of electrons. Then, they have the property to attack cells and
membranes in our body. They can damage our genetic information (DNA/RNA). They can produce mutations, premature aging (wrinkles in our skin), blood vessels injuries, and heart and kidney disease. They also have been related with Rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. There are many research trials that explain how FR can produce coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis) and renal injury

These concepts are aggravated with the evidence that our liver produces fat from any excess of sugar consumed, mainly white flour and industrial sugar. We all know and understand that lipid products are needed for our body structure and maintenance, and their role in our daily calorie intake and energy production. When a human being restricts his/her calorie intake in a fat-free diet for any length of time, it is possible to experience cognitive
difficulties, depression, increase of body mass index, and energy and mineral
somatic unbalance. But, how much fat do we need?

AHA recommends 500 to 700 calories of fat for a diet of 2,000 calories per day. This means 56 to 78 g of total fat per day, and only 15 g of SFA per day.
USA Nutrition Facts for popular menu items in Fast Food Industries (August
2011) reported meals containing, each one, between 10 to 33 g of SFA.
These meals mainly consist of red meat, cheese and/or bacon, without any sauce added (i.e. mayonnaise or ketchup). Unfortunately these meals are statistically the most wanted in Fast Food Restaurants!

Another fact that should be known is the amount of salt added in fast food. Salt
represents another bullet for cardiovascular and renal systems: blood
hypertension, kidney stones, congestive heart failure, etc. FDA recommends
maintaining the daily salt below 2,300 mg per day and the most consumed meals in Fast Food Industries contain, each one of them, a range between 65 to 90% of the total daily amount of salt recommended (USA Nutritional Facts for Fast Food Industries – August 2011).

In conclusion to preserve our health, Fast Food should only be considered with EXTREME MODERATION