Are the Rumours True on Fat & Heart Disease?
With the nation’s poor heart health a regular fixture in the media and endless stories about fruit and/or vegetable options will be best to decrease the risk, can you be sure that what you are reading is backed by science? Or is it simply a question of snappy headlines?
The UK’s heart health is definitely not the best it can be. With an estimate of 7,000 deaths a year due to strokes or heart attacks, not to mention thousands more who have to live with the aftermath of such attacks. Under proposed NICE guidelines, in order to prevent and better the nation’s heart health, the majority of adults will be put on statin drugs as a precautionary measure. Is this necessary?
Since the 1960s, the accepted theory has been that dietary fat consumption is the enemy and by removing it from our diet we are doing the right thing to protect our heart health. Unfortunately the science that backed this statement was flawed and even Professor Ancel Keys, the man responsible for this prevention tactic later admitted that he was wrong. So if dietary fat has been wrongly accused, what is it in our diet that is contributing to an unhealthy heart?
When we talk about dietary fats being an important component in the diet, this is not a mandate to eat deep fried foods and confectionary. By consuming beneficial fats in your diet, we mean the use of butter, extra virgin olive oil and/or coconut oil in your cooking. We also mean consuming oily fish such as salmon, trout, herring, etc and also the consumption of eggs and full fat dairy. Before panic sets in about the high amount of cholesterol consumed, science is continuously showing that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease.
Trials upon trials keep showing that individuals who consume beneficial fats in their diet and consume low amounts of refined sugar and starchy items, have better blood results and are not at risk of of heart disease. These individuals exhibit decreased triglycerides, increased HDL (the good cholesterol) as well as making the transition to less atherogenic LDL (bad cholesterol) particles [1-7].
Who is to blame?
If fat is not enemy in our diet, then what is?
Ever since the low-fat message was introduced, there has been an increase in carbohydrate consumption. In fact, current health guidelines insist that 50% of our meals consist of carbohydrate based foods. The rationale behind this message is that our bodies require carbohydrates for energy. This is a myth as our bodies can run on other fuel sources. Proof of this can be found in any biochemistry textbook.
Studies show that individuals who consume a high-carbohydrate based diet are at a higher risk of developing heart disease [1-7]. What is more worrying is that their blood results reflect this, but unfortunately the mainstream solution to improve these blood results is not to address the individual’s diet, but rather to give drugs.
Here at Natural Ketosis we believe that the way to healthy life is to decrease the amount of carbohydrate in your diet. On our program we embrace those carbohydrates that are based on dietary fibre rather than simple and/or complex carbohydrates. The difference between these carbohydrates is the way they are digested within the body. By choosing these vegetables and fruits, the essential micronutrient requirements are met. It is also about making the right food choices and being able to navigate the confusing food environment we live in.
1. Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2003, 88:1617–1623
2. Foster GD, et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. NEJM, 2003, 348:2082-2090.
3. Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, King AC: Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA 2007, 297(9):969-977.
4. Halton T.L, Willett W.C, Liu S., Manson J.E, Albert C.M, Rexrode K, Hu F.B. Low-Carbohydrate-Diet Score and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women. NEJM, 2006, 355:1991-2002
5. Hession M, Rolland C, Kulkarni U, Wise A & Broom J. Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. Obesity Reviews, 2008, 10 (1): 36-50.
6. Samaha FF, et al. A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity. NEJM, 2003, 348:2074-2081
7. Yancy WS, Jr., Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC: A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2004, 140(10):769-777.