“Saturated fats will clog your arteries and cause a heart attack.” We now know this is a myth that’s been sold to the public for more than 50 years. Many of us (including health professionals!) bought into it and the myth became so well-entrenched we take it as gospel. Once saturated fats came off our tables they were replaced with ultra-processed vegetable oils like corn and soy-bean. In addition to being quite highly inflammatory, most of these are GMO crops. Some people chose low-fat or no-fat in response, and so the food industry replaced the fat with salt, sugar, flavourings, preservatives and other additives. These too, contribute to inflammation and heart disease.
There are plenty of studies showing absolutely no link between saturated fats and heart disease1, so why are we still avoiding them? As it turns out, there has been a long-standing intentional deception perpetrated by the sugar industry. Internal documents have recently come to light showing that the sugar industry for many years has provided funding to help promote the risk of fat, while at the same time minimizing the risks of added sugars2. Over the past few decades, the sugar industry has changed the way we eat, so that the typical diet nowadays is low fat, low cholesterol, high sugar and high carbohydrates, which explains the epidemic of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. All of these conditions increase the risk of heart disease dramatically. Higher levels of blood sugar will actually cause LDL cholesterol particles to be smaller, denser, and more dangerous to blood vessels. Saturated fats on the other hand, encourage larger “fluffy” LDL particles that do not accumulate into blockages.
Another truth that many of us fail to grasp is that the intake of dietary fat will not make us fat. Did you know that fat is the one nutrient that will not stimulate your pancreas to make insulin? It is higher in calories than protein or carbs (fat contains 9 calories per gram versus 4 for proteins or carbs) so be careful with serving sizes. Enjoy grass-fed beef and free-range poultry, organic butter and eggs, and high-fat unsweetened yoghurt. Complement your fat intake with plenty of fresh vegetables, local fruits, nuts, olive oil and wild fish. I also recommend taking a supplement of Omega 3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, as these are anti-inflammatory and will have a protective effect.
Your partner in Living Longer Better,
Dr. Grant Pagdin MD
1. Chowdhury R, et al. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Mar 18;160(6):398-406.
2. Kearns CE, et al. Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research: A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents. JAMA Intern Med. Published online 1 Sept 2016.
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