For many decades, Americans have been lied to about the true reason for heart disease. The culprit was touted as cholesterol and saturated fat. But the real issue? Sugar.
Just recently a study came to light which was buried back in 1968. This study was one of a wave of new nutrition research interested in finding a potential link between fats and heart disease.
The sugar industry, which stood to benefit from these links, began research of their own. The idea was to show that a diet low in fats and which included sugar could be beneficial for the heart. This premise may seem silly now, but it was all still new back then!
Surprisingly though, the research showed that triglyceride levels (fats in the blood) in those participating in the study increased dramatically. It is well known that high triglycerides correlate with heart disease. The findings were negative enough that the industry cancelled the study and buried the results. They have only recently been recovered.
This is certainly not the first deception about fats and sugars which has come to light from that time. Many things occurred in the late sixties and seventies which changed the way we thought about food from wholesome and unprocessed to refined and packaged.
We somehow decided as a culture that margarine, a fake butter-like substance made from vegetable and seed oils was more healthy than a natural product like butter. And we ignored sugared ingredients in order to check how much fat was on the label.
It has been well known in the functional medicine community that sugar (and refined carbohydrates like cereal and white flour) are detrimental to heart health, far more so than fats. We have seen enough people suffering from these conditions make dramatic turnarounds with the incorporation of a low-sugar higher fat diet to ignore them.
Indeed, much of the nutrition research that has been published in the last decade has hinted at these changes.
It makes logical sense that if too much sugar is a main cause in the creation of type II diabetes then heart disease, which is almost always related or co-morbid with type II diabetes would come from a similar cause, if not the same one.
The recommendations for proper nutrition are always changing. This is due to the fact that the body is very complicated and learning those intricacies has taken and continues to take lots of time and research. Often, conclusions will be made in pop science that overstate what the research actually concludes, which conflates the issue.
To top it off, our culture has embraced the “fat is bad, butter is worse” idea and many people are so afraid of including these foods in the diet that they refuse to incorporate changes based on more complete evidence and recommendations. Many conventional doctors incorporate this advice though they have very little training in nutrition and aren’t much better educated about it than the general public.
Here’s the bottom line when it comes to fat and sugar: Fat does not make you fat, it does not (on the whole) increase the risk for heart disease.
Sugar, whether in its natural forms like cane sugar, honey or in the form of refined carbohydrates like grains and flours, or in the industrial processed forms like high fructose corn syrup IS bad for heart health and DOES increase the risk of heart disease, especially in large quantities in relation to other foods consumed.
Fats including foods containing cholesterol, saturated fats like butter and coconut oil, and monounsaturated fats like olive oil are ALL healthy for you in reasonable quantities, which is typically a fair amount more than what people who are afraid of fat are eating. (Easily oxidized and rancid Omega 6 fats like vegetable, peanut, soy, canola, corn oil, etc. are another issue, are bad for overall health and the heart, and should be avoided)
It is the COMBINATION of saturated fat and sugar that increases risk for heart disease and diabetes, NOT the saturated fat on its own.
It is okay to eat real butter.
Choose sugars and carbohydrates in moderation. That means dessert shouldn’t happen everyday.
And take the governmental recommendations on nutrition with a grain of salt. They do their best to help us be healthy, but it is tough to separate fact from fiction when considering the influence of lobbyists from big business like the pharmaceutical industry, dairy industry, processed foods and sugar industry.
If you want to learn more about how to eat for a healthy heart, and how to change your health for the better, contact Amber here.