More conflicting information regarding the American diet is being touted in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which now claims that “there is little evidence linking saturated fat consumption with heart disease, diabetes and premature death.”
Inflammation is really the culprit.
Eliminating processed foods, regular exercise and reducing stress are the best ways to prevent heart disease, according to the three heart specialists, led by Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who wrote the editorial.
“Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong,” they wrote.
Along with colleagues Professor Rita Redberg, from the University of California at San Francisco, and Pascal Meier from University Hospital Geneva in Switzerland and University College London, Malhotra cited a “landmark” review of evidence that said saturated fat isn’t so bad.
According to the doctors, “Relative levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, or high density lipoprotein (HDL), were a better predictor of heart disease risk than levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol.”
Consuming foods rich in saturated fat has been shown to increase blood levels of LDL, they noted, adding, “It is time to shift the public health message in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease away from measuring serum lipids (blood fats) and reducing dietary saturated fat.”
“Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food,” they said, pointing out that clinical trials revealed that widening narrow arteries with stents – stainless steel mesh devices – did nothing to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Professor Alun Hughes, associate director of the Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at University College London, does not agree. “This editorial is muddled and adds to confusion on a contentious topic,” he said, adding, “The authors present no really new evidence, misrepresent some existing evidence, and fail to adequately acknowledge the limitations in the evidence that they use to support their point of view.”
Dr. Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said that he was more apt to believe decades of research, which has proven “that a diet rich in saturated fat increases ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in your blood, which puts you at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.”
Other heart doctors criticized the editorial’s verbiage. Cardiologist Dr. Gavin Sandercock, director of research at the University of Essex, said, “There is no such thing as ‘real food’ – the authors don’t define what it is, so it’s meaningless.”
On the other hand, Dr. Mary Hannon-Fletcher, head of the school of health sciences at the University of Ulster, called the editorial “the best dietary and exercise advice I have read in recent years.”
She noted, “Walking 22 minutes a day and eating real food. This is an excellent public health message; the modern idea of a healthy diet where we eat low-fat and low-calorie foods is simply not a healthy option.”
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