Miguel Pocovi, a retired professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Zaragoza, is the new president of the Aragonese Grande Covian Foundation. As a nutritionist and gourmet, he is closely associated with Avilés: he has the monoliths of the Paseo de los Santíficos at the mouth of the river. Talk to LA Nueva ESPAÑA by phone.
– You have just assumed the presidency of Grande Covian.
-Yeah, the president died, who was Professor Grande Covian’s daughter, Gloria Grande, and then, well, I had to take over the presidency. And that’s what I’ve been doing for a few months now.
– maintain key line WorkObvious.
-Yes Yes. Previously, he served as vice president, and recently, due to his illness, he had to face some difficulties, I took it upon himself to replace him in everything. A vice president, after all, does what he does: replace the president.
It was only natural that you were the replacement then.
-They elected me unanimously because, I calculate, I was already serving as president. Now the granddaughter of Professor Grande Covian, Gloria Vazquez Grande, who lives in Winnipeg in Canada, has entered as a patron, but it is not a problem for her to attend the meetings because now we can do them electronically. , which is one of the ways things change with the pandemic. Till then we personally could not do much. The statutes were changed to enable meetings to be held by videoconferencing, with which, from Canada, she can act as mentor.
– Is Gloria Vazquez a scientist too?
– He’s an intensive care doctor. He is a doctor. He did his doctorate in Canada, though he did his medical degree here in Spain, then he did his residency here in Spain, and then, he moved to Canada and went to work in Winnipeg, as I say. It’s very close to Minnesota, on the border of the city where your grandfather was from, which was Minneapolis.
The love of the heavenly beings for Grande Covien is not even a gram less.
-I know this very well because I have participated in many events, both in Colunga, as in Avilés, as in Oviedo, recalls Professor Grande Covián. and in Ariondas, which has a hospital.
-I say this because he was also in La Granda with another posh Asturian Severo Ochoa.
– Every summer he was in La Granda: he spent a season there, with courses, and then he spent a month in Colunga.
When did your relationship with Grande Covian begin?
– In 1978 I came to Zaragoza to work with him, to do the postdoctoral stage. I lived with him for 17 years, till he passed away. So yeah, Professor Grande was my teacher.
Grande Covian is one of the initiators of the change in diet.
-very much. It can be said that Grande Covian is the father of nutrition because he applied scientific knowledge to it. It was he who created the scientific branch of nutrition. It became famous during the Civil War. Then there were some episodes of pellagra in Madrid, an epidemic we might say. Pellagra is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin B3, which is niacin. Grande Covián discovered that the population of Madrid lacked this nutrition. This made him famous. And then he went to work in the United States to work with Ancel Keys. The two produced a series of brilliant works in which they explained how different types of fat affect the cholesterol in our blood. He discovered the different functions of different types of fatty acids.
And how did it materialize?
-Professor Grande Covian is the main promoter of the use of extra virgin olive oil in cooking because it is a beneficial fat for human health: I am talking about cholesterol and heart diseases.
-In Spain we listen to your recommendations, but it is not the same in all countries.
More and more now. This extra virgin oil was one of the main arguments in their fight when they were practicing. Especially with Americans. And they accomplished important things, for example, that they swapped out saturated fat for polyunsaturated fat, swapped out the butter they put on their breakfast toast for margarine. Using butter at the tip of a shovel has a lot of cholesterol in Americans, which is a very important cardiovascular mortality risk. Margarine is solidified oil, let’s say. Here, in Spain, but also in the rest of Europe, he fought for the Mediterranean diet to be a benchmark for feeding the population. And here his work was extremely successful: in Spain there is no doubt that extra virgin olive oil is not beneficial to health.
– Why do you think everyone thinks about what to eat or what not to eat on TikTok or Instagram?
-It happened during the Covid pandemic: everyone had an opinion. Because it seems that everyone is ready to give their opinion about football and medicine. that’s dangerous. You need to be an expert on nutrition and not just some “YouTuber” who comes up with something and launches it and that’s it. This is really dangerous for the population: for sources of proven solvency, you have to turn to scientific sources.
-One of the overheard recommendations is to use the drug for diabetics, but lose weight.
-Yes Yes. Or when they tell you virgin coconut oil. And, on top of that, in many supermarkets they put it next to the virgin olive oil so that people can eat it. This is dangerous.
Everyone thinks cholesterol is bad, but it turns out there’s a good one. clear it up for me
Not all cholesterol is bad. We must have it because it is necessary. If we didn’t have cholesterol, we couldn’t reproduce, we couldn’t even live. We need it for our biological membranes, the lining of cells. We need cholesterol, but too much is bad. Cholesterol is like the mask of the god Janus: It has a bad face and a good face. Excess cholesterol builds up in our arteries in the same way that limescale builds up in a pipe. If there is too much cholesterol in these arteries, the lumen of the vessel closes little by little, eventually, that vessel bursts and forms a thrombus, a plug, and a heart attack. That is, the amount of cholesterol should be sufficient. On the other hand, we have a cholesterol which is carried in the liver. When we see a loaded transporter, we say that we have high good cholesterol. It’s HDL. The bad one is the one that moves it from the liver to the arteries. And this is bad LDL.