- Saturated fat and cholesterol have little to do with the development of heart disease. Data shows two-thirds of people admitted to hospitals with acute myocardial infarction have completely normal cholesterol levels.
- Fats that contribute to heart disease are primarily trans fats and highly refined and/or heated polyunsaturated vegetable oils (PUFAs), which are high in damaged omega-6.
- For optimal health, seek to get 75 to 85 percent of your total calories as healthy fat, primarily monosaturated and saturated. Limit PUFAs to 10 percent and omega-6 fats to 5 percent.
Is saturated fat dangerous to your health? Dr. Aseem Malhotra an interventional cardiologist consultant in London, U.K. seriously challenges the conventional view on saturated fats, and reviews how recent studies have failed to find any significant association between saturated fat and cardiovascular risk.
Malhotra reports that two-thirds of people admitted to hospitals with acute myocardial infarction have completely normal cholesterol levels.
“As an interventional cardiologist, we can do life-saving procedures with people who have heart attacks through heart surgery. What we can do in medicine is really quite limited at the treatment end and actually the whole ‘prevention is better than cure’ phrase is very true.”
Hospitals and Medical Personnel Are Far From Paragons of Health
Malhotra’s epiphany that something was wrong with the system came rather early. While working as a resident in cardiology, he performed an emergency stenting procedure on a man in his 50s who’d recently suffered a heart attack.
“Just when I was telling about healthy diet, how important that was, he was actually served burger and fries by the hospital. He said to me, ‘Doctor, how do you expect me to change my lifestyle when you’re serving me the same crap that brought me in here in the first place?’”
Looking around, he realized that a lot of healthcare professionals are overweight or obese, and hospitals serve sick patients junk food.
“The hospital environment should be one that promotes good health, not exacerbates bad health,” he says.
Diet and lifestyle changes are particularly important in light of the fact that medical errors and properly prescribed medications are the third most common cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Overmedication is a particularly serious problem among the elderly, who tend to suffer more side effects.
“Part of that is because there are very powerful vested interests that push drugs,” Malhotra says. “They even coax academic institutions and guideline bodies. People aren’t getting all the information to make decisions, whether or not they should take medications…
For Past 60 Years, the Wrong Fats Have Been Vilified
For the past 60 years, the conventional wisdom has dictated that saturated fat is dangerous and should be avoided. This flawed notion was originally promoted by Dr. Ancel Keys, whose Seven Countries Study laid the groundwork for the myth that saturated fat caused heart disease.
It’s true that heart disease rates began spiking in the beginning of the 20th century, and for the last 50 years, heart disease has been progressively increasing. It really wasn’t an issue prior to the 20th century. Saturated fat wasn’t the problem. It was all the other harmful fats people were eating.
In the 20th century, the average person probably had less than 1 pound a year of refined, processed omega-6 vegetable oils. By the 1950s, probably about 50 pounds a year, and by year 2000, it increased at about 75 pounds a year. It seems “fat” in itself isn’t the issue; it’s the type of fat that’s crucial.
This massive amount of highly refined polyunsaturated fat is far in excess of what we were designed to eat for optimal health.
In the United States, between 1961 and 2011, 90 percent of the calorie intake has been carbohydrates and refined industrial vegetable oils.
The heart disease epidemic peaked between 1960 and 1970. When we look at our data, it’s quite clear that the so-called fats responsible for that are trans fats and very likely polyunsaturated vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids. We know now that they oxidize LDL and are pro-inflammatory.
What Are the Real Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
By failing to differentiate between trans fats and saturated fats, massive confusion has arisen. There’s also confusion about the relationship between saturated fat and cholesterol. Adding to the complexity, there are also different types of saturated fats, which may have different biological effects.
Many saturated fats will raise LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol. But LDLs come in various sizes. Large type A particles arelessatherogenic (form fatty plaques in the arteries) and are influenced by saturated fat. Saturated fat also increases HDL, the “good” cholesterol.
“What’s interesting is the saturated fat, even though it may raise LDL, your lipid profile may actually improve [when you eat more saturated fat], especially when you cut the carbs. On top of that, LDL has been grossly exaggerated as a risk factor for heart disease, with the exception of people who have a genetic abnormality (familial hypercholesterolemia),” Malhotra says.
So what is the major issue when you look at heart disease and heart attacks? Insulin resistance. The reason it’s being neglected is partly this flawed science on cholesterol. But, also because there’s never been any effective drugs that target insulin resistance.
Therefore, because [there isn’t a] big market around something to sell, there aren’t many people that know about it. As you and I know, if you target insulin resistance through the right kind of diet and lifestyle changes, stress reduction, right kind of exercise, that’s going to have the biggest impacts on your health.”
Check back next week for –
Saturated Fat Part Two: Gauging Your Heart Disease Risk:
- Gauging Your Heart Disease Risk
- The Connection Between Saturated Fats and Diabetes
- Healthy Fat Tips
- Why Statins Are a Bad Idea for Most People
- Statins Are Associated With Serious Side Effects
Today’s Post has been condensed from: Great Britain’s Most Outspoken Cardiologist Sets the Record Straight on Saturated Fats
Please see the original for the Footnotes and Citations for the scientific studies.
May you Live Long Healthy.
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