Sorry that I’ve been away for so long folks. The past few weeks have been a trying time for me, as I recently lost a close family member to the ravages of heart disease, and so it is in his honor that my thoughts logically turn to the subject of atherosclerosis and it’s etiology.
Of course, we have all heard ad nauseum the standard condescending diet and lifestyle recommendations for preventing heart disease peddled by our esteemed FDA and AMA, both of whom are promoting an archaic outdated paradigm to the general public, in fact increasing instead of decreasing the pandemic of heart disease, which is now the number one killer of both men and women in America. Conventional wisdom on how to address the underlying cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease in general is propagated as a plea to “avoid cholesterol, eat more fruit and so-called healthy whole grains”, “exercise and watch your saturated fat intake”, “replace butter with margarine” (worst advice ever), etc. I wish to posit an alternate, albeit less discussed, hypothesis of heart disease, one that does not benefit the coffers of the pharmaceutical giants but does address this chronic disease state illuminated by cutting-edge scientific data. I propose that, at its heart (pun intended), atherosclerosis is not so much about how much fat, or even saturated fat, that an individual consumes, unless they are one of the unlucky few born with a genetic predisposition toward heart disease, such as my aforementioned family member, a condition referred to in medical nomenclature as familial hypercholesterolemia.
Heart disease is essentially a by-product of systemic inflammation triggered by excess blood glucose and triglycerides driven by the over-consumption of refined sugars and atherogenic fats such as trans fat and an excess of Omega 6 oils, in the absence of sufficient Omega 3, especially highly-inflammatory atherogenic hydrogenated oils such as palm oil and vegetable oil, which are now ubiquitous in most modern processed foods, instead of using healthier oils such as olive and avocado oil that are more expensive to produce, but healthier nonetheless. Which leads us back to the corporate mantra in America: profits first, people second.
Did you happen to notice that almost every food that is labeled “low fat” has had the fat calories replaced by sugar calories? I maintain that sugar is the true enemy of the heart, not healthy fats! We have known this academically since the 1980s and yet our government continues to demonize fat instead of sugar as the progenitor of heart disease, which only benefits the sugar and corn lobbies, not the health of the general public. Special mention goes to corn lobbyists in particular, the most prevalent and profitable crop in the United States. And why is this, I wonder. Is it because folks are eating a record amount of corn on the cob these days? I think not! In four words, the single most common toxic ingredient found in processed foods and sodas: High Fructose Corn Syrup. Decades of low-fat dieting have done absolutely nothing to reduce the incidence of obesity, heart disease and Type II diabetes. In fact, they have only gotten worse, and now even many children have diabetes and heart disease, which are basically just two sides of the same coin.
We have all read the alarming statistics, e.g. 1 in 3 Americans is now either obese or overweight. I think that the time has come to arrest the true “criminal” at the scene of this crime, sugar, instead of the innocent bystanders, healthy fats and cholesterol. The demonization of cholesterol is especially tragic, in light of the fact that there is not a single cell in the human body that does not require cholesterol to survive. If we don’t get enough cholesterol in our diet (howdy Vegans!), the liver will actually manufacture its own cholesterol and circulate it throughout the body, bathing every cell in this critically important hormonal precursor.
Bottom line? If you’d like to learn more about this controversial topic, I recommend a specific book that is an easy read (also available as an audiobook) and gets right to the heart of the matter! See link below: