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Taxing Cooking Oils for a Heart Healthier Future

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By: Dr BimalChhajer

In the ongoing battle against heart disease, an unexpected proposal has emerged from the SAAOL: the imposition of taxes on all cooking oils. The rationale behind this proposal draws a parallel between the impact of oils on cardiovascular health and the taxation of tobacco products, aiming to curb the rising heart attack epidemic caused by plaque buildup in arteries.

The Silent Assassins: Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Heart attacks are predominantly attributed to the gradual accumulation of plaque within arteries, restricting blood flow and damaging heart muscles. Among the critical factors responsible for this blockage are elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. These two fats, often referred to as the “mafia” of heart health, contribute to millions of heart-related deaths worldwide each year.

Despite the known risks, startlingly, many cardiologists allow cholesterol levels to exceed 180mg/dL and triglyceride levels to surpass 160mg/dL. These lenient thresholds fail to recognize the lurking danger these fats pose to our hearts.

The Weighty Connection: Obesity and Heart Ailments

The link between excess body weight and cardiovascular diseases is undeniable. The body’s intricate dance between calories, insulin, and glucagon can go awry when excess calories are stored as fat. The production of insulin surges to control glucose levels, leading to insulin resistance and, ultimately, diabetes. Obesity, hypertension, and a slew of other health issues often tag along, further exacerbating heart disease risk.

Unmasking Heart Attacks: Detecting Blockages

A heart attack becomes a tangible risk once arterial blockage surpasses 50%. If the artery wall is fragile, rupture can even occur at the 50-70% blockage range. Alarmingly, symptoms only emerge after 70% blockage has occurred, allowing the threat to go unnoticed until it’s often too late.

However, there’s hope. Non-invasive tests like CT Coronary Angiography can identify blockages in a matter of minutes, offering a window of opportunity for intervention before heart attacks strike. Weight loss, through proper diet and exercise, plays a pivotal role in mitigating the risk of heart disease.

Zero Oil Cooking: A Revolutionary Approach

Enter the radical notion of zero oil cooking, a concept SAAOL advocates to combat heart disease. Triglycerides, the culprits behind coronary blockages, are a form of oil that silently build up in our arteries over time. This suggests that every drop of oil we add to our meals is a step toward endangering our own health.

Contrary to the belief that oil adds flavor, it is revealed that oils themselves are tasteless. The true sources of taste lie within the spices and seasonings we use. In fact, SAAOL boasts a collection of over a thousand oil-free recipes that prove taste and health need not be mutually exclusive.

Nature, too, provides essential fats in foods like rice, wheat, pulses, fruits, and vegetables. Dry fruits such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews, often touted as healthy options, contain over 50% oil. Misguided advice from some cardiologists concerning their benefits raises the importance of informed dietary choices.

In a surprising twist, the proposal to tax cooking oils emerges as a daring solution to a burgeoning health crisis. By recognizing the impact of oils on heart health and advocating for a shift to zero oil cooking, SAAOL urges us to reevaluate our culinary choices for a future unburdened by heart disease. The battle against heart attacks requires innovation, and this proposal may just be the bold step needed to save lives and pave the way for healthier generations to come.

The writer is Director, SAAOL Heart Centre

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