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EARTHWATCH

Low-Cholesterol Quest Healthy for Planet Too : New self-testing device could encourage Americans to eat less meat, a smart move for their hearts and home.

July 07, 1994|RICHARD KAHLENBERG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You might not think there's a connection between your cholesterol level and the planet's health, but registered nurse Linda Glatts--director of education at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks and a Seventh-day Adventist--does.

Glatts hopes the recent introduction of the the Advanced Care Cholesterol Test, a trademark product Johnson & Johnson is selling through drug stores, will help people choose a healthier lifestyle--healthy for them and for the planet.

"Now that it's available over the counter, a cholesterol test will raise consciousness of the problem, and a lot more responsibility will rest with the lay person to control (his or her) diet," said Glatts, a vegetarian with a master's degree in cardiopulmonary nursing.

That, she speculated, might result in a reduction in meat consumption, which in turn will have an environmental impact, because cattle raising consumes half the fresh water used in our state and almost 80% of the grain crops produced in the United States.

It would be more planet-friendly and nutritionally efficient if crops such as corn and soybeans were more often used to sustain people.

Seventh-day Adventists embrace--but don't require--vegetarianism. The faith proscribes cigarettes and alcohol and strongly recommends a vegetarian diet that allows dairy products and eggs.

Many members--more than half, according to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition--follow the diet, and have become the subject of several medical studies. One study, conducted by Loma Linda University Center for Health Research, a Seventh-day Adventist institution, found that lifelong members of the denomination live on average a decade longer than members of the general U.S. population.

Certainly, other faiths advocate good habits, healthful living and temperance. But the Adventists, with their century of low-fat eating, realized their conduct can have a practical impact on the health of the rest of us and the planet's health, according to the Adventists' national media center in Thousand Oaks.

A recent edition of one of their publications, "Vibrant Life," contained the article "Can You Have Your Environment and Eat It Too?"

"It's not right having to let your lawn go brown because of scarce, expensive water just so other people can cling to a diet which results in cardiac disease," Glatts said.

Glatts, whose husband, Tom, is pastor of an Adventist church in Newhall, advocates an approach to diet and lifestyle that others could easily embrace. The initial letters of their eight principles for healthful living spell "new start": nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest and trust.

Dr. Doris Derelian, president-elect of the American Dietetic Assn., said she also welcomed the over-the-counter test.

"We've been wondering when the test was going to be available (because) we think consumers need to have much more information about their health and what kind of behavior to adopt," she said.

Derelian said, however, that the test should not necessarily prompt us all to stampede to vegetarianism. Rather, it might be used to encourage people to take the advice of professional dietitians and eat meat in small amounts.

She described "condiment portions"--the small amounts it takes to flavor food--dishes she has seen in cookbooks such as "In the Kitchen With Rosie."

In countries where water and topsoil are managed thriftily--not devoted to meat production--folks think up all kinds of ways to use meat for flavor.

Cholesterol awareness, indeed, is no longer linked to the idea of a grim lifestyle. The latest issue of "The Journal of Gastronomy," published by the American Institute of Wine & Food in San Francisco is devoted to the societal and environmental aspects of find food.

Details

* FYI: For information on vegetarian cooking from the Adventist viewpoint write: "Nutrition/Lifestyle Magazine," P.O Box 1000, Thousand Oaks, CA, 91359 or call June Silva at (818) 546-8400. For information on the American Institute of Wine & Food and its "Journal of Gastronomy" call (415) 255-3000. For a free consumer self-assessment brochure, "Healthy Heart Report Card," call Johnson & Johnson at (800) 482-4044.

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