You may be surprised to learn that the popular wisdom advocating the avoidance of fat in our diet has actually contributed to heart disease rather than reducing it.
According to experts such as cardiologist, Aseem Malhotra and David Haslam, PhD and Chair of Britain’s National Obesity Forum, the standard advice of the past four decades to avoid all saturated fat has been the most tremendous medical error of recent times. In fact, experts say that this advice has actually caused many people to develop the risk of cardiovascular disease leading to incorrect prescription of statin drugs.
A Costly Mistake?
As interventional cardiology specialist at Croyden University Hospital in London, Dr. Malhotra recounts that he has seen tremendous abuse of the prescription of statin drugs, and in fact, approximately eight million patients in Britain alone have been prescribed statins, yet heart disease remains a major problem. Dr. Malhotra says that prescribing a diet that is high in saturated fats would actually be far more effective in terms of lowering cholesterol levels. In his learned opinion, the obsession with controlling total cholesterol levels has prevented doctors and patients from understanding that an unfavorable blood fat ratio causes a very serious condition called atherogenic-dyslipidaemia.
Dr. Malhotra explains that the shunning of saturated fats by the medical community and patients was caused by a landmark study conducted in the 1970s. This study identified a link between total cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease which seemed to correlate with the ratio of saturated fat calories consumed. Dr. Malhotra says that this correlation caused a faulty conclusion that resulted in an ill advised recommendation to cut all fat consumption to thirty percent of the diet and saturated fat consumption to ten percent.
As an example of the ill effects of a low fat diet, Dr. Malhoutra draws our attention to the obesity epidemic in the USA. He says that this epidemic has been caused by the trend toward low fat diets. In the US, fat consumption has fallen from forty percent of the diet to thirty percent in the past three decades. The food industry has followed this trend by adding sugar to processed foods in the place of fats.
The Real Culprit
The replacement of fats with sugar is a dietary disaster in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that excessive sugar consumption can lead to diabetes. Furthermore, David Haslam points out that it is increased sugar and refined carbohydrates in the diet that lead to excessive fat in the bloodstream, not saturated fat as has been claimed for the past forty years.
According to a study conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA), a low fat diet causes a tremendous reduction of expenditure of energy. Concurrently, insulin resistance is increased. Instead of a low fat diet, the AMA recommends a low glycemic index (GI) diet that is also low in carbohydrates.
Modern experts agree that lifestyle improvements are the best treatment for heart disease. In fact, research shows that dietary improvements and lifestyle changes are approximately three times more effective than statin drugs. Patients wishing to avoid heart disease are well advised to adopt a Mediterranean style diet that consists mostly of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, lean protein sources such as fish and healthy oils such as olive oil. This is both effective in preventing heart disease and in accelerating recovery following a heart attack. Dr. Malhoutra believes that by refuting the myth of the harms of saturated fat and adopting a sensible diet, people can avoid heart disease, adult onset diabetes and obesity.