The Japan Tofu Association is Japan's representative body of all domestic tofu producers.
Japanese people under their 30s have higher levels of cholesterol than Americans of the same age bracket
Obese people have high levels of blood cholesterol as well as high levels of lipid peroxides resulting from the oxidization of fats. Consequently, a higher proportion suffers from cancer or from heart diseases or cerebrovascular diseases caused by arterial sclerosis.
Lipid peroxides are created when fats in the body are oxidized by oxygen radicals. The cells are weakened and it becomes easier for carcinogens to enter cells, and this causes cancer.
With arterial sclerosis, the blood vessel walls harden, become narrower and lose their elasticity. The resulting decreased blood flow can cause deterioration in organ function, and should blood clots occur, the narrowed blood vessel can be blocked. Once a blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot, fresh oxygen and nutrients are no longer carried to blood vessels downstream of the blockage. This can cause tissue to die as well as significant deterioration in the workings of the brain, heart and kidneys, etc, and can lead to death.
Cholesterol is a building material used for cell membranes as well as a raw material for hormones. Since cholesterol is a lipid (fat) and does not mix with blood, which is water based, when it is discharged from the liver into the blood stream it is in the form of lipoproteins wrapped in protein and phospholipids (lecithin).
Good cholesterol and bad cholesterol
Lipoproteins with a high proportion of cholesterol which deliver cholesterol to cells throughout the body are called LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein = Bad Cholesterol), and lipoproteins with a low proportion of cholesterol which carry excess LDL back to the liver are called HDL (High Density Lipoprotein = Good Cholesterol).
When LDL in the blood is oxidized by oxygen radicals, white blood cell macrophages identify them as foreign bodies and phagocytosis (ingestion of the foreign bodies) commences. Once the macrophages have ingested a specific amount, they become inactive and embed themselves in the blood vessel walls. If this process repeatedly occurs, the blood vessel walls harden, elasticity decreases and the blood vessel becomes narrower.
LDL is called “bad cholesterol” because it causes arterial sclerosis, while HDL is called “good cholesterol” because it removes LDL.
In order to prevent arterial sclerosis, it is important to reduce levels of both cholesterol in the blood and eliminate oxygen radicals.
One third of the cholesterol in the blood is derived directly from the consumption of food while the other two thirds are synthesized in the liver. Ingesting high levels of carbohydrates, fats and proteins will result in the production of a corresponding amount of cholesterol. Consequently, the level of cholesterol in the blood will increase.
Heart disease is the second highest cause of death among the Japanese (approx 14%), while in America it surpasses even cancer, and is the highest cause of death. Numerous investigations, which have served to clarify the relationship between heart disease and cholesterol, have been conducted since the 1960s. Subsequently, national movements to reduce cholesterol have resulted in a declining trend in the average cholesterol levels among the American people over the past few years.
In contrast, cholesterol levels in Japan have been increasing every year, and the Japanese population under their 30s have higher levels of cholesterol than Americans of the same age bracket. Since the Japanese have traditionally eaten low nutrient foods, their intestinal tracts have excellent absorption, which makes it easier to absorb cholesterol.
Consequently, the mortality rate from heart disease, which was ten times greater in America than Japan thirty years ago, is now down to only five times greater.