Heart Health & Low Fat Diets

I was born in the late seventies which means I was “told by media” pretty early in my life that fat, especially saturated fat is bad for you. I grew up eating low fat, got rid of precious egg yolks and ate only the whites. I was afraid to eat fatty cuts of meat; avocado was considered evil and I ate tons of dried toast (Yuck). Oh boy, how wrong was I? Of course, I cannot take back time but I am glad I know better now and can teach my kids and people around me how great essential fatty acids are for the body and heart health.

Ok then, so you may ask what’s wrong with ‘low fat’? Let’s start with the fact that the low-fat diet is most likely also a high-carb diet. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it is a diet made of added sugars and refined carbohydrates. However, the energy has to come from somewhere and therefore a low-fat diet is usually parallel with a high-carb diet. Additionally, recent studies report that at least 50% of the adult population in the U.S. have insulin resistance which will lead eventually to diabetes (or at least pre-diabetes). Most of us are not even aware that we walk around with high glucose levels in the blood all the time. Have you ever sat down in a coffee shop and noticed what’s generally being ordered? We start our day with a giant vanilla skim latte or a pumpkin spice soy late and grab a croissant or a blueberry scone to go. Do you know that adds up to over 80 grams of sugar just for breakfast! We think we are being good by omitting the fat in our drink. This starts the all-day rollercoaster ride of highs and lows in energy. Sugar becomes our main fuel source. This is the real reason why we see high triglycerides in our blood work. Usually it means that we consume too many carbohydrates in relation to our activity level. Interestingly, “the more insulin resistant the person is, the greater the subsequent rise in triglycerides following the ingestion of carbohydrates.” Here are a few highlights from a very informative article by Dr. Mercola: ‘Insulin, Not Cholesterol, Is the True Culprit in Heart Disease’.  “About 80 percent of the cholesterol in your body is made internally, primarily by your liver. The remaining 20 percent comes from your diet. If you consume less, your body will compensate by making more, and vice versa. By themselves, total cholesterol and LDL are virtually useless predictors for cardiovascular disease. However, elevated LDL may be a good marker for insulin resistance. Evidence suggests high total cholesterol and even high LDL are insignificant when trying to determine your heart disease risk. Your best predictor is your insulin sensitivity.” Furthermore, blood glucose has been reported as an independent predictor of atherosclerosis, and blood glucose levels greater than 90 mg/dl can lead to atherosclerosis in the carotid artery. Overall, insulin resistance contributes to heart diseases and heart failure.

Ok, so we know now that a sugar/high carb diet is bad for your heart, so what should we eat to prevent heart diseases? It is the FAT! Don’t be afraid of it. The only off-limits fat is trans-fat. Avoid it like the plague. Otherwise, enjoy whole pasture raised eggs, fatty fish, avocado, olives, tree nuts and all kinds of fresh oils like olive or avocado oil. Your heart will thank you for it. Essential fatty acids are great for preventing heart disease by keeping your heart healthy and strong. In fact, the higher the intake of essential fatty acids, the better for the heart. Dr. Axe writes in his article, Essential Fatty Acids: What Makes These Healthy Fats So Essential?…that “the Omega-3, in particular, has been shown to reduce triglycerides, blood pressure and the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Studies show that omega-6 fatty acids may also lower some heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol.”

Are you still confused about what fats to eat? Are you currently eating low fat and are not sure how to transition to a higher fat diet? Give me a call. Let’s chat<3