Ingesting edible oils directly can cause inflammation of the pancreas and vascular walls, and increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack, said Yu Chih-hsien (游致顯), a cardiologist at Saint Paul’s Hospital in Taoyuan.
Yu said that the hospital had a call from a 65-year-old woman, surnamed Chen (陳), who inquired about a blood test that found an abnormally high triglyceride level — 3,855 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), or 25 times higher than the normal level of 150mg/dl.
After suspecting a malfunction of the testing equipment, the hospital’s department of clinical pathology director Lee Yuan-min (李元民) said he found that Chen’s low-density lipoprotein level only increased by 30mg/dl, which is atypical in combination with an excessive triglyceride level.
In talking with Chen, Lee said he learned that over the past month, she had ingested a spoonful of flaxseed oil per day.
She was instructed to stop ingesting the oil and to return to the hospital two weeks later for another blood test, Yu said, adding that the woman’s triglyceride level in the second test was 174mg/dl, indicating that her habit of ingesting the oil might have caused the high triglyceride level.
The body metabolizes calories that it does not use immediately into triglycerides, which are stored in the fat cells, which can later release them so that they can be converted into energy, he said.
A daily intake of oil should not exceed two spoonfuls, Lee said, adding that the average diet already contains this amount.
Yu urged people to be careful about oil intake, saying that such habits could cause atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular conditions, increasing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
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