Sunday, January 29, 2012

Watching the weight / 4

It's been some time since I last wrote about my weight and accompanying issues. I am pleased to note that I have been maintaining a body weight of 79.5 kg during that time. I would of course be even more pleased if I could reduce it, but we have been having a spell of cold weather which causes one to eat more, especially over the weekend (excuses, excuses). Also, before I was managing to walk six (if not seven) nights a week, whereas lately I've been lucky to walk four nights a week (one night is lost to MBA studies - Negotiation was on Thursday evenings and Strategic Management will be on Wednesday evenings). 

One of the Israeli dairy companies (Strauss, via their strategic alliance with Danone) has introduced a new dairy drink called Danacol. Its claim to fame is that each 100ml bottle of drink (three swallows and it's over) contains 1.6g plant sterols, which have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol by up to 10% in 2 to 3 weeks (quoting their Irish website). The Israeli website is slightly more technical, mentioning that the drink contains phytosterols (as opposed to 'plant sterols'), and a quick look at Wikipedia reveals that phytosterol-supplemented functional foods have been shown to reduce total and LDL-cholesterol levels in hundreds of  clinical trials. LDL cholesterol is otherwise known as 'bad' cholesterol; what is important is not so much the absolute amount of LDL cholesterol but rather the ratio between HDL ('good') and total cholesterol.

If I remember correctly, the ratio in my blood is somewhere between 4-5 (total cholesterol to HDL), which is too low. Hopefully, using Danacol will help improve this ratio (the ground flax seeds and walnuts are also supposed to help). To perform this test correctly, I should have a blood test taken this week in order to set a base line, and then compare the current value with a future blood test.

Again, according to the Wiki, the phytosterols complement the statin pill which I (and millions of others) take every day: statins reduce cholesterol synthesis by inhibiting the rate-limiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme, [whereas] phytosterols reduce cholesterol levels by competing with cholesterol absorption in the gut, a mechanism which complements statins.

At first glance, the drink is slightly expensive: each bottle costs 3.75 NIS, which is about $1. Danone is running a promotional campaign in every country which allows one to purchase a six-pack with a 25% discount, so really the drink will only cost 2.82 NIS/day. I note that the Irish site has an offer for a 2 EU discount; if this is equivalent to the Israeli 25% offer, then danacol in Ireland costs the equivalent of about 6.6 NIS, which makes it nearly 75% more expensive than in Israel. A recent survey showed that food prices are more expensive here than in Europe, so this seems to be a welcome exception.

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