Many of us still believe the outdated notion (based on outdated research) that avoiding saturated fat and cholesterol in our diet will prevent heart disease. The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended we stop limiting dietary fat and cholesterol since they do not promote heart disease. What is now known is that trans-fats, present in many processed foods present a clear health danger, clearly linked to heart disease. (Trans-fats and refined vegetable oils promote an unhealthy lipid profile, leading to heart disease.)
Furthermore, elevated levels of cholesterol and LDL (so-called “bad cholesterol”) were not linked to an increased risk of heart disease but low levels of HDL (so-called “good cholesterol”) was. Low HDL is a result of eating sugar and refined carbohydrates, resulting in prediabetes and metabolic syndrome which is closely linked to heart disease. Studies have shown that low fat, high carbohydrate diets lead to unhealthy lipid profiles with high triglycerides, low HDL, and small LDL particles (the unhealthy LDL.) A particularly dangerous sweetener is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) found in many soft drinks and processed foods.
What to do? Eat a low glycemic, plant-based diet without trans-fats and refined vegetable oils and exercise regularly. Don’t forget to add in the “good fats” from cold pressed olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. If you eat animal products, opt for organic, grass fed over conventionally farmed animals.
Happy Heart Awareness Month!