By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
January 1, 2018
- Did the AHA dietary guidelines get it wrong?
- The truth about vegetable oil
- Are low-fat dairy products and whole grains really heart healthy?
Several weeks ago the 52-year old President of the American Heart Association suffered a minor heart attack… right in the middle of the AHA’s 2017 scientific conference!
At the time I wondered whether he practiced all of the AHA’s dietary guidelines. And I realized that if he did, it’s no wonder that he would end up with heart problems.
While I agree that there are some healthy aspects to the recommendations – such as eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes – there are several downsides.
Specifically, I disagree with the AHA’s suggestion to place an emphasis on whole grains, low-fat dairy products and non-tropical vegetable oils. (It’s also surprising that canned fruits and vegetables are on their “healthy list”. These products are typically loaded with sugar and sodium.)
The Truth about Vegetable Oil
Since the early 1900s our consumption of vegetable oil has increase in leaps and bounds. Our intake of soybean oil has jumped a whopping 116,300% and we’re eating 16,700% more canola oil.
As a matter of fact, it’s estimated that here in the U.S. we consume over 14 million metric tons of vegetable oil annually. That’s more than 30 billion pounds! The very last thing we need is to eat more of it.
That’s because the omega-6 fatty acids found in most vegetable oils cause inflammation. In particular excess omega-6 consumption creates a pro-inflammatory state that promotes LDL oxidation, arterial plaque, blood clots and narrowing of arteries. Those are not things you want if you plan on protecting your heart health.
So ditch the AHA’s oil recommendation and go for the one that has been proven, over and over again, to support (among other things) a healthier heart and cardiovascular system: Extra virgin olive oil.
It’s chock-full of natural antioxidants called polyphenols. These compounds can literally change the expression of genes that influence your risk of heart disease and plaque build-up in the arteries.
What about Whole Grains and Dairy?
Commercial grains like wheat, oats and barley are nothing more than high carb foods loaded with inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. In addition to high amounts of soybean and other commercial vegetable oils, most of them are weighed down with salt, sugar, corn starch and other added ingredients.
As you know, excess salt intake is bad for your blood pressure and cardiovascular system. But get this! The number one contributor of salt in our diet is bread. In most cases, a single slice of whole wheat bread contains 160 to 170 mg of sodium. (That’s about what you would find in a small bag of Lay’s potato chips.)
I also have to mention that today’s whole grains aren’t anything like nature intended. They’ve been scientifically engineered and hybridized. And most of them contain gluten. This protein often triggers inflammation – an underlying factor in the development of heart disease.
You’re better off sticking with grains that are anti-inflammatory, such as amaranth, millet, quinoa and buckwheat berries.
As far as dairy is concerned, you’ll find a lot of unhealthy sodium in products like low-fat cheese slices (up to about 250 mg of sodium for every 2/3 of an ounce), cottage cheese (a half cup can contain as much as 400 mg), cream cheese (2 tablespoons weighs in at with about 120 mg of sodium) and more.
Plus, dairy farmers normally feed cattle a genetically modified diet, consisting of large quantities of “round-up ready” soy and corn. These crops are loaded with a highly inflammatory poison called glyphosate, which is passed on to you when you drink cow’s milk or eat dairy products made from cow’s milk.
As a result, I highly recommend keeping dairy consumption to an absolute minimum. However, if you grew up drinking milk, chances are good it’s still a big part of your diet. And the idea of giving it up might be a little hard to swallow (no pun intended.)
In that case, try out some of the milk substitute products available today like almond, coconut or hemp milk.
Put these tips to good use. And remember! When eating it’s always best to stay as natural as you can.
A wide variety of fresh organic fruits and vegetables is always your best choice. Choose wild-caught fish over red meat whenever possible. Keep your animal proteins to about 15% of your diet. Drizzle everything with olive oil.
And on those occasions when you do choose a canned or packaged food, always check sodium and sugar content so that you can make an informed, heart-healthy choice.
Blasbalg TL, et al. Changes in consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the United States during the 20th century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May; 93(5): 950–962.
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2016-2025. Table A.12.2 – Vegetable oil projections: Consumption, food. Jul 2016.
Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79.
- Konstantinidou, et al. In vivo nutrigenomic effects of virgin olive oil polyphenols within the frame of the Mediterranean diet: a randomized controlled trial. The FASEB Journal, 2010.