Heart health

The American Heart Association’s junk science diet

Science shows the low-fat diet to be BS, and yet the American Heart Association keeps touting it as the ‘heart healthy’ choice. Why? The quick answer: money, honey.

The dogma that saturated fat causes heart disease is crumbling.

A recent Cambridge University analysis of 76 studies involving more than 650,000 people concluded, “The current evidence does not clearly support guidelines that [recommend]… low consumption of total saturated fats.”

Yet the American Heart Association (AHA), in its most recent dietary guidelines, held fast to the idea that we must all eat low-fat diets for optimal heart health. It’s a stance that—at the very best—is controversial, and at worst is dead wrong. As a practicing cardiologist for more than three decades, I agree with the latter—it’s dead wrong.

Why does the AHA cling to recommendations that fly in the face of scientific evidence?

What I discovered was both eye-opening and disturbing. The AHA not only ignored all the other risk factors for heart disease, but it appointed someone with ties to Big Food and bizarre scientific beliefs to lead the guideline-writing panel—just the type of thing that undermines the public’s confidence in the medical community.

The AHA guidelines warrant that saturated fat make up no more than 5 to 6 percent of daily calories for adults because this will lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. And, for those people who need blood pressure control, the guidelines also suggest lowering sodium (salt) intake to no more than a teaspoon (2,300 mg) daily.

Despite many other known risk factors for heart disease, salt and fat were, astonishingly, the only two considered by the AHA panel writing the guidelines. There are many other recognized risk factors the AHA ignored, including blood sugar level, low “good” (HDL) cholesterol, insulin levels, and body weight—all of these are influenced by diet.

In fact, most people who have heart attacks don’t have elevations in bad cholesterol. They are much more likely to have metabolic syndrome—a condition that puts you at high risk for diabetes and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is defined when you have three of the following: high triglycerides (blood fats), high blood sugar, high blood pressure, low “good” cholesterol (HDL-C), and a large abdomen measurement (abdominal obesity).

Interestingly enough, blood triglycerides do not go up with eating fat—they go up if you eat a diet high in processed grains, starches, and sugar. Unfortunately for the proponents of high-carbohydrate diets, high blood triglycerides are a major risk factor for heart disease. In addition, low fat/high carb diets lower protective “good” cholesterol and raise insulin. These diets are implicated in the development of diabetes, which is a potent risk factor for developing heart disease.

The writers of the 2013 statin guidelines based their recommendations on studies that looked at the reduction in the risk of events like heart attacks in people treated with statins, compared to people on a placebo. The AHA dietary guidelines do not cite any diet studies that looked at whether following a specific diet lowered the risk of developing cardiac events—yet they are giving dietary advice. Why?

There might be two plausible reasons. One is the AHA’s moneymaking “Heart Check Program.” The second is the conflict of interest (and curious beliefs) of Robert Eckel—the co-chair of the panel that wrote the guidelines…..

The Daily Beast: Read the full article