"Just Say No To Low (Fat)"

For most of many of our adult lives, the common dietary recommendation for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) has consisted of advice telling us to reduce out saturated fat (fats coming from red meat and dairy products) intake.  Reducing saturated fat was thought to be the primarily means of lowering our LDL-cholesterol (the ‘bad cholesterol’) blood levels.    However, the evidence that supports reducing dietary saturated fat needs to be viewed within the context of what type of foods replaced the saturated fats not just that there are less saturated fats being eaten.

Clinical trials that replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat (fat from from some types of nuts and plants) have generally shown a reduction in CVD events, although several studies showed no effects. Replacement of saturated fat by polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat lowers both LDL (a potentially healthy effect) and HDL cholesterol (a potentially unhealthy thing since this is the ‘good cholesterol’).

However, when average persons not in clinical trials try to reduce their saturated fat intake, they often end up increasing their carbohydrate (starches and sugars) intake by as much as 20-30% instead of adding polyunsaturated fats. And replacement of saturated  with a higher carbohydrate intake will increase the risk of patient’s developing atherosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels that can lead to strokes and heart attacks) and  increase the harmful effects of Insulin Resistance and obesity that include diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and sleep apnea.

The ‘low fat ‘ dietary advice of the past several decades is being scientifically-proven to be  harmful and counter productive to the general population. So remember, every time you think about purchasing a low fat product item in the market, compare the nutrition label with it’s regular-fat counterpart and you’ll see a significant increase in the carbohydrates in these low fat products.  Put down the low fat and go with the real stuff, you’re probably are doing your heart a favor.

Therefore, when trying to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) by changing your diet, the most prudent objective is to reduce your carbohydrate intake as well as shed a few pounds.

Or to put it more simply, “Just Say No to Low!”

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Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

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