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Vegetable Protein Lowers Cholesterol

September 12, 1985|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

Vegetable protein sources have proven effective in reducing cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, according to a recently published report.

The findings were discussed this week by researchers from the Wistar Institute at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting in Chicago.

A team composed of David Klurfeld and David Kritchevsky studied two sets of laboratory animals. One group was fed exclusively vegetable proteins in the form of soybeans while another, similar group was fed only animal proteins from beef and casein, a milk byproduct.

The results found that the vegetable protein group had serum cholesterol levels 50% below those fed animal proteins. There was also a 50% reduction in the incidence of arteriosclerosis among the lab animals fed the vegetable proteins.

Similar research conducted on humans confirmed the results of the Wistar tests.

Balanced Protein Sources

"The most interesting aspect of these results is that they imply that by balancing protein sources you can get some of the benefits of a vegetarian diet," Klurfeld said in his presentation to the convention.

In the early 1900s, the typical American diet consisted of an equal balance between animal and vegetable proteins. Today, most Americans get two-thirds of their protein from meat sources, Klurfeld said. An increasing number of arteriosclerosis cases have paralleled this dietary change.

Two other noteworthy food-related papers were presented to the society, an international group of chemists whose membership exceeds 100,000.

Fast-Track Cheese

The first involves a process which can cut in half the time it takes cheese to ripen. The technique was developed by Miles Laboratories and involves adding enzymes to the cheese during the aging process.

The research focused on Cheddar and reduced the aging period from 12 months to 6. The fast-track cheese was apparently indistinguishable from its traditional counterpart in taste tests.

The advantage of such a process would be the tremendous savings a dairy company would receive from such labor, storage and manufacturing cost reductions. Theoretically, these production savings would be passed onto consumers in the form of lower prices.

The company has already begun marketing the quick cheese in selected markets through Marshall Dairy Products.

Another important discovery was announced by Integrated Genetics, Inc. of Farmingham, Mass. The firm has developed a testing procedure that will dramatically reduce the time required to diagnose salmonella poisoning.

Current lab procedures require as long as 48 hours to detect this harmful bacterial in humans. Integrated Genetics' test can provide an answer within four hours.

Salmonella poisoning can be a temporarily debilitating illness with symptoms that include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and high fever. It can be fatal in some cases.

A quicker testing procedure will help medical officials more effectively track the source of a food poisoning epidemic. For instance, the new method would have aided in the investigation into the salmonella outbreak in Chicago earlier this year which affected 17,000 people, according to an Integrated Genetics representative.

Eating Trends--A quick look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest information on food consumption reveals some surprising statistics. Though down considerably from its peak in the early 1970s, per capita beef consumption experienced a small increase last year. Americans ate 80.6 pounds of beef and veal in 1984, up marginally from 80.4 pounds in the previous year.

Poultry consumption continued its steady climb. Last year consumption reached a record 66 pounds per person, up slightly from 1983. Also on the rise are fluid milk products. A 20-year decline seems to have been reversed with statistics that reveal that 245.4 pounds per person were consumed last year, up from 245.1 pounds in 1983.

In the sorriest state of any food commodity is lamb. In the early 1960s, Americans ate 4.4 pounds of lamb each year. Figures compiled for 1984 show that consumption has plummetted to 1.5 pounds per person annually.

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