Do you avoid fat in the hope that you’re improving your heart health?
Since the 1960s dietary advice has been to reduce intake of saturated fat. This advice was given due to the fact that people believed fat was responsible for causing heart disease.
However, is lowering fat the answer for a healthy cardiovascular system?
Some experts argue that avoiding saturated fat worsens health and leads to obesity.
With the advice to avoid fat came the craze of low-fat, high carbs foods.
Take for example low fat;
- Ice cream
But the question is what happens when we remove fat from the diet?
When we remove fat from our diet of course something has to replace it. And that something is normally carbohydrates. Whether that be in the form of added sugars or bread and pasta which both turn into sugar when eaten.
This is unfortunate as research shows that those with the highest intake of sugar have a 275 % increased risk of heart attacks
Plus a 2014 large systematic review looked at 76 different studies on fat consumption and heart disease. It found that eating fat and cholesterol does not cause heart disease.
In fact, some experts are now arguing that high carbohydrate diets are more problematic. This is because when we eat foods that are high in carbohydrates a process called lipogenesis occurs. This is basically your liver producing fat. This causes a number of issues such as :
- Raising triglycerides
- Lowering good HDL cholesterol
- And creating small dense LDL/ Bad cholesterol particles.
These small dense particles have been found to be more predictive of heart disease than the level of LDL cholesterol found in the blood.
Another point to consider is that since the increase of flour and sugar production we have seen a dramatic rise in heart disease.
With the average American consuming 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour each year. It seems interesting that fats are often blamed for heart disease.
Especially when we consider the whole range of ways fat helps support our body.
For example they:
- Speed up your metabolism
- Reduce your hunger
- Stimulate fat burning
- Improve ldl cholesterol particle size
- Improve levels of HDL cholesterol.
What’s more is that studies have shown that low carb high fat diets enhance the health of your blood vessels in comparison to a low fat diet.
Plus studies are showing that high fat diets can support weight loss and improve cardiovascular risk factors. For example, a study called the A to Z Weight Loss Study demonstrated the difference between low fat vs high fat low carb diet. Researchers looked at 311 post-menopausal women for a year. One group followed the Atkins diet which is high in fat and protein. The other group followed Dean Ornish’s dietary protocol which is plant based and low in fat. The study showed that those on the high fat diet had the fastest and most significant weight loss. They also demonstrated the best improvements in cardiovascular risk factors.
So let's get to our top 5 fats to avoid cardiovascular disease and also uncover how a type of fatty acid could help support weight loss.
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Our Number 5 is nuts
If you avoid nuts thinking they are high in calories and fat then you may want to think again.
Nuts are associated with reducing cardiovascular disease and weight loss.
Interestingly a 2013 randomized controlled trial found the following:
“on the Mediterranean diet people who ate nuts had a significant decline in small LDL particles and an increase in large LDL particles, as well as “good” HDL cholesterol levels”
As we already mentioned, having larger ldl particle size reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Nuts provide a good source of vitamin E which is an essential mineral for heart health. It is critical for:
- Preventing blood clots
- Helping to modulate inflammation
- And reducing pain.
One of the top sources of vitamin E is almonds.
Other great nuts to regularly include in your diet are:
- And macadamias.
Walnuts can help lower triglycerides. They also provide a great source of antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
Pistachios increase antioxidant levels in the blood. They have also been found to help reduce oxidation of ldl cholesterol which is essential for keeping cholesterol healthy.
Macadamias are very high in palmitoleic acid, this is an omega 7 fatty acid. These make omega 3 more readily available. Eating these also help increase something called cholecystokinin (cck). This helps you feel satiated, which is great news for our waistline and weight. Macadamia nuts also contain omega 9s or oleic acid. Eating this triggers Oleoylethanolamide (OEO) in the small intestine. This helps curb hunger pangs.
Therefore eating these nuts could help support weight loss. With obesity being a major risk factor for heart attacks ensuring we eat a diet that helps reduce hunger and weight gain is essential.
Next up another food that contains oleic acid
Our number 4 is avocado.
This also contains oleic acid, at 77%. This means you're getting huge fat burning properties.
Avocados also have high amounts of vitamin E which we already mentioned the importance of. Plus they have a powerful antioxidant glutathione.
Antioxidants in the diet are an important part of protecting the cardiovascular system. This is due to the way they can help prevent damage being done to the cells by free radicals. Free radicals are waste substances that can destabilize the cell.
Having a diet rich in antioxidants helps to keep cells healthy and working optimally.
Another important thing about avocados is that they provide two key minerals magnesium and potassium. These both help to regulate blood pressure. This is due to the way it relaxes blood vessels allowing blood to flow with ease.
Studies have found that eating avocados can have a favorable effect on blood lipids. This is due to the way they can help lower triglycerides.
Avoiding foods that cause high triglycerides is key for keeping your heart healthy.
That’s why saturated fats such as our Number 3 could be a great way to help avoid heart disease.
Number 3 is coconut.
This fruit is high in fats and low in sugar. The fatty acids in coconut oil can encourage your body to burn fat. They provide quick energy to your body and brain and raise HDL (good) cholesterol in your blood, which may help reduce heart disease risk.
A 2015 study took 116 participants with coronary heart disease. They were given a dietary protocol which included coconut oil. The researcher found that they improved their hdl cholesterol levels.
Further to this saturated fat is associated with creating larger more buoyant LDL cholesterol.
The reason this is so important is that smaller, denser ldl particles are more easily oxidized. When oxidized they're more likely to create plaques on the arterial wall.
Another reason coconut can be so beneficial is that the oil has 50% lauric acid. When consumed this acid is acted on by enzymes and turned into something called monolaurin. This is antibacterial, anti-microbial and can help heal the gut.
Healing the gut is a crucial step in creating a robust cardiovascular system. This is because a healthy gut allows you to absorb vitamins and minerals optimally. In turn ensuring we have enough nutrients to keep our heart working well.
A 1981 study looked at the diets of a group of people on the island of Tokelau in the South Pacific. They found that 60 % of their calories came from coconuts yet they had very low rates of heart disease and good overall health.
Plus the Kitavan people from Papua New Guinea were found to have “virtual nonexistence of stroke and ischemic heart disease”. Their diet is described as consisting of tubers, fruit, coconut, and fish.
Next on our list is a food you’ve probably never associated with heart health, and that is …
..Number 2 ghee
This is made by clarifying butter. This means the proteins as well as the sugars associated with dairy have been removed. It’s more dense in fat than butter due to the water and milk solids having been removed. For people who are intolerant to dairy ghee is often well tolerated.
So how is this good for our cardiovascular system.?
Firstly as we’ve already discussed eating saturated fat has been found to:
- Improve hdl cholesterol levels
- Lower triglyceride levels
- And improve the particle size of ldl cholesterol.
Aside from this, ghee has other health benefits. It’s a good source of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
The fact that it contains these vitamins shows that it can help support our health. One particular vitamin that is important for heart health is vitamin D. Having low levels of this can lead to hypertension. This significantly increases your chances of heart problems.
Furthermore, cooking vegetables with ghee can improve your absorption of the vitamins and minerals found in these foods.
Plus it contains butyrate, a fatty acid that has known anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that the butyrate present in ghee can soothe inflammation within the body.
This is crucial to note as most heart attacks are related to inflammation.
Another important reason to include ghee in your diet is that it provides a source of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA.
Research indicates that CLA found in ghee can help lower weight in people who are obese.
Finally it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help decrease inflammation and protect against heart disease.
We’re about to unveil our number 1 source of fat to help avoid heart attacks. It is also rich in omega 3 and contains oleic acid. But first don’t forget to like this video and subscribe to Heart Disease Code. Be sure to grab both of your two free gifts, “The Truth about Fat and Cholesterol” and Episode 1 of The Untold Story of Heart Disease documentary series, by clicking the link in the description below.
Number 1 is extra-virgin olive oil.
Of course this is well known for being a good source of fat for people with heart disease. This is due to it being rich in omega fats. But what most people don’t realise is that it actually provides saturated fats too.
On average about 14 grams of saturated fat per 100grams of oil.
Furthermore it’s an abundant source of oleic acid, which can help:
- Curb hunger
- Support cellular health
- Control the amount of insulin released to increase glucose uptake from the blood
- Regulate blood pressure
Additionally a small study compared a diet rich in olive oil to a normal lower-fat diet. It found that the olive oil rich diet led to increased weight loss in women with breast cancer.
It found that those on the olive oil rich diet:
- Achieved a 5% weight loss
- Reduced their triglycerides
- And improved their HDL cholesterol levels.
These are all great news for those wanting to avoid heart attacks.
Extra virgin olive oil is also a great source of antioxidants that are bioavailable. These assist in:
- Lowering inflammation
- Protecting “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidation
- Improving the lining of your blood vessels
- And may help prevent excessive blood clotting.
Olive oil has also been shown to lower blood pressure, which is an important factor for a healthy cardiovascular system.
A 2018 review which analysed numerous studies concluded that extra virgin olive oil can help:
- Reduce inflammation
- Increase antioxidant action
- Increase vasodilation
- And overall lowered atherosclerotic risk.
As you can see, olive oil can be hugely beneficial. However when choosing olive oil be careful to choose the “extra-virgin” variety. This ensures that it hasn’t been exposed to heat, chemicals, and light. All of which can damage the oil meaning that it has less therapeutic value when consumed.
So there you have our top 5 fats for helping to avoid heart attacks/ Let us know in the comments below how you ensure you’re getting plenty of healthy fats.
And make sure to stay tuned to Heart Disease Code to discover more wonderful nutrition and wellness insights. And once again, don’t leave without grabbing both of your two free gifts – just click that link below.
Thanks for watching, have a heart healthy day!