Doctors have warned for decades that saturated fat clogs arteries and causes heart disease, and for decades the public believed it. I mean, why wouldn’t we? Well, now 3 world-renowned cardiologists are saying that claim is just bunk – that drinking whole milk and eating real butter is not dangerous, after all. They’re calling the claim that saturated fat leads to heart disease “just plain wrong.” [1]

Better yet, people who are still a little bit concerned about eating saturated fat can balance the score, so to speak, with a few simple lifestyle changes.

The group of doctors – Dr. Aseem Malhotra; Professor Rita Redberg, of UCSF School of Medicine, San Francisco, and Pascal Meier of University Hospital Geneva and University College, London – say there is no solid association between saturated fat consumption and a higher risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and death in adults. Even in people with established heart disease, reducing saturated fat alone doesn’t reduce heart attacks. [2]

British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, of Lister Hospital, and an adviser to the U.K. national obesity forum, says:

“One thing that’s very clear when you look at the totality of the evidence: saturated fat does not clog the heart arteries. And sadly, for many years — for decades, in fact — this has been the primary focus of treatment of heart disease and public health advice.” [1]

Bad Advice Leads to Bad Eating Habits

As saturated fat became the purported harbinger of cardiovascular health doom, some people eschewed full-fat foods and replaced them with carbohydrates. But too many processed and refined carbs also increase the risk for heart disease, and cause the body to produce too much insulin. Over time, chronically high insulin levels cause the hormone to stop being able to insert glucose into the body’s cells for energy. This is known as insulin resistance.

Then, insulin resistance triggers an inflammatory response. This not only causes Type 2 diabetes, it also causes the arteries to harden.

In the United States, the sugar industry helped create the myth that saturated fat was bad for your heart, and directly profited from it. In the 1960s, the industry, then called the Sugar Association, paid Harvard researchers to author studies framing fat in a negative light, and framing sugar as fairly benign substance. Doctors believed the study (because, Harvard) and began urging their patients to cut fat from their diets.

All of this would lead to food companies creating an ever-growing assortment of low-fat and no-fat products, which contain, on average, 20% more sugar than full-fat products. And so the cycle repeats…

But it was the unnecessary emphasis on lowering cholesterol that the experts say is at the root of misinformation regarding saturated fat. The doctors say a high total cholesterol to high density lipoprotein (HDL or so-called ‘good’ cholesterol) ratio was the best predictor of cardiovascular disease risk, rather than low density lipoprotein (LDL or so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol). [2]

In an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the doctors say:

“Decades of emphasis on the primacy of lowering cholesterol, as if this was an end in itself and driving a market of ‘proven to lower cholesterol’ and ‘low fat’ foods and medications, has been misguided.” [3]

The creation of cholesterol-lowering medications, statins, has often caused more problems than the pills could solve, including Type 2 diabetes, thyroid cancer, eye problems, and other conditions.

The Better Way to Protect Your Heart

Time and again, a Mediterranean diet stands out as one of the best ways to achieve good heart health, and this time is no different. Reach for legumes, nuts, olive oil, and lots of fruit and veggies, the trio says. Cut back on processed food and refined carbohydrates, like white bread, pasta, and pastries.

The doctors also recommend taking a brisk walk each day for about 22 minutes, and minimizing stress as much as possible. Chronic stress puts the body’s inflammatory response on “permanent high alert.”

Source: Me First Living

Malhotra assures:

“Things like cheese and butter are absolutely fine to eat, as long as you’re getting plenty of those ‘real’ foods and cutting out the bad foods such as refined carbohydrates.”

If people just did those things, it “could combat 80% of heart disease cases,” he says.

The authors conclude:

“It is time to shift the public health message in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease away from measuring serum lipids and reducing dietary saturated fat.

Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food.” [2]

Sources:

[1] CBC News

[2] Independent

[3] HuffPost United Kingdom

Me First Living


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About Julie Fidler:
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Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.