What constitutes a heart healthy diet? Until now we have been told that eating a low cholesterol diet will help us to lower our cholesterol and thereby fight heart disease.
This statement may not be true. Heart disease is no laughing matter. Especially since government statistics show that more than 1 million people suffer heart attacks each year and ½ million Americans die each year from heart disease. Heart disease has been the number one killer in the US for a half a century and is not showing any change to date. How come?
The whole concept that high cholesterol foods are bad for you originated in the town of Framington, Mass where they studied the effects of high cholesterol on heart disease.
The study seemed to prove that there is a correlation, but some say that the evidence is only borderline. Plus, there are many subsequent studies that have shown just the opposite. A study sponsored by the German Ministry of Research and Technology showed no link between high cholesterol and heart disease. Similarly, in Japan where the cholesterol levels have risen, there was a drop in heart attacks.
China just completed an 8 year study with 10,000 people. One group was on statin drugs to lower cholesterol and the other group just consumed a normal diet. Researchers were astounded when they found a higher incidence of heart attacks in the statin group. The statin group successfully lowered the cholesterol levels but did not arrest the advent of heart disease.
There are many more similar studies at home and abroad. So, what is the cause of heart disease?
Research has shown that high insulin levels in the blood can cause high cholesterol. It follows that in order to control cholesterol we must stabilize insulin and sugar metabolism. So, instead of avoiding cholesterol, you must avoid sugar, simple carbs, and if the problem is severe enough, eliminate carbs altogether. Coffee stimulates the adrenals which in turn can cause an elevation of the insulin levels.
There is truth to the Atkins approach and this explains why a diet of either low or no carbs can be beneficial in lowering blood pressure, triglicerides, insulin as well as cholesterol.
Hormone metabolism can effect cholesterol. If you have low testosterone for example, you will probably have a high cholesterol as well. By eating foods that have low cholesterol, you may be damaging your hormonal system and even causing the liver to produce even more cholesterol.
How many times have you heard of someone who drastically lowered his dietary cholesterol intake only to see a surge in his blood cholesterol levels?
And then, we want this heart healthy diet to be low in trans fats. This seems to be the real culprit. How many people still believe that margarine is good for your heart?
We must avoid those donuts, muffins, cream cakes, and often whole wheat breads and crackers that contain partially hydrogenated fats as well.
Each meal should contain a balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Following the guidelines of a heart healthy diet, getting proper exercise and if you smoke, you must quit, no if ands or buts. Stay on track and you have the tools to efficiently reduce the risk of heart disease.
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