Is dietary fat bad for your heart? There has been a lot of chatter lately about dietary fat and heart health.
Here are a few facts to consider.
- There are fats which are detrimental to your health and fats which are beneficial to your health. “High intake of trans-fat increases the risk of CHD in women” (http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/161/7/672.full)
- We need to consume “essential” fats. Essential fats include omega fats found in avocados, flax, fatty fish and grass fed meat. Our body does not make essential fats so we are wise to include them in our diet.
- “The low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet… may well have played an unintended role in the current epidemics of obesity, lipid abnormalities, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndromes. This diet can no longer be defended by appeal to the authority of prestigious medical organizations.” (http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1133027)
Dr. Walter Willett (Harvard Medical School) said something very similar to the last statement above, in a talk that was part of the curriculum at Institute of Integrative Nutrition. He went on to explain that the dietary guidelines were established by a committee (who remembers the food pyramid?). Their recommendations were hijacked by special interest groups. Suggesting the public eat LESS of any food with a lobby behind it was unacceptable. They could encourage you to eat more though. And so the rise of obesity began.
Because the link between heart disease and consuming saturated fats was proven false, there are many who advocate eating as much saturated fat as they want, think butter and bacon. I do not think butter or bacon are necessarily bad for your health, but they should be eaten in moderation.I definitely favor butter over margarine. Butter, from pastured cows, is a better choice. I choose real food over manufactured every time. Remember, saturated fats are not essential for your health. Here is a link to learn “how fats are formed” in your body from carbohydrates. Also, fat contains 9 calories per gram, making it a high calorie food.
How much fat should you consume? Coming from the point of view of hormone balance, I suggest aiming for 20-35% of total daily calories. Include 1/3 of your total daily fat with each meal. The best sources for healthy fat include: flax and hemp seeds, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios, avocados, pumpkins seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, olives, olive oil, grass fed meat and wild caught fish. These are all sources of essential fats.
I advocate a heart healthy diet of whole foods. Be wise in what you eat. Choose whole foods to avoid consuming the trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, refined sugar and flours which contribute to obesity and heart disease.
Michael Pollan sums it up well in his book, In Defense of Food. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.
Here is a video titled “Matters of the Heart”. Dr. Sachs explains the connection between the heart and nutrition.
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