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Are Heart-Healthy Diets as Effective as Statins?

Are Heart-Healthy Diets as Effective as Statins?
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Friday, 04 August 2017 12:37 PM

A new advisory issued by the American Heart Association unequivocally states that replacing foods high in saturated fats with those that contain unsaturated fats can reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease as much as cholesterol-lowering drugs.

“We want to set the record straight on why well-conducted scientific research overwhelmingly supports limiting saturated fat in the diet to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels,” states lead author Dr. Frank Saks, leader of the advisory and professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Saturated fat increases LDL —bad cholesterol — which is a major source of artery clogging plaque and cardiovascular disease,” he says.

Saturated fats are found in meat, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm, and others.

Other types of fat include polyunsaturated fats found in corn, soybean, peanut, and other oils and monounsaturated fats found in olive, canola, safflower, avocado, and other oils.

The AHA advisory is based on clinical trials that found lowering dietary intake of saturated fat and replacing it with polyunsaturated vegetable oils reduced cardiovascular disease by approximately 30 percent. That is roughly the same risk reduction achieved by cholesterol-lowering statins.

The advisory board was careful to point out that their fat recommendation should be only a part of an overall healthy diet such as the Mediterranean or DASH plans.

The researchers also noted the studies concluded that that replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates and sugars did not have any cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Interestingly, controversial coconut oil, a saturated fat that many consider to be healthy, raised the LDL in carefully controlled studies more than safflower oil or olive oil.

“Given the lack of offsetting favorable aspects, we advise against the use of coconut oil, said the advisory.

Dr. Kevin Campbell, attending cardiologist at North Ridge Executive Wellness Center in North Carolina and a CBS on-air expert, tells Newsmax Health that not all fats are created equal.

“While the data is clear that a diet that is dominated by lots of saturated fats will promote fat in your arteries, including a mix of nutrients into your diet is a good thing,” he explains.

“Some lean cuts of red meat, for example, can be part of a healthy diet. Avoiding one type of food will not provide perfect cardiovascular health. We must also take stock in our fitness levels, body weight and overall diet. Together we can use multiple strategies to live a heart healthy life.”

Dr. Gabe Mirkin, author of “The Healthy Heart Miracle” tells Newsmax Health that the recent advisory comes as no surprise to experts who have long espoused the idea that a healthy diet and lifestyle can beat medication, when it comes to combatting heart disease.

“Studies from all over the world are coming to the conclusion that your can prevent heart disease by changing your lifestyle and that this method is at least as effective as taking statin drugs,” he says. “The more recent data shows that lifestyle may even be more important than drugs.”

Mirkin adds that modern scientists are also discussing the role of anti-inflammatory foods to prevent heart disease instead of focusing solely on saturated fats and cholesterol.

“However the rules remain the same whether you blame saturated fat and sugar or blame inflammation,” he says. “Your diet should be based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. You should restrict red meat, and avoid all processed meat and foods with added sugar as well as fried foods.”

Campbell adds the voice of moderation.

“Saturated fats are best avoided if you have high cholesterol or are at high risk for heart disease,” he says. “However no diet should be completely exclusive of any one food. These diets are doomed to failure.

“It’s far better to focus on moderation and variety as well as taking other preventive measures such as regular exercise and reducing stress to prevent heart disease.”

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Replacing foods high in saturated fats with those that contain unsaturated fats can reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease as much as cholesterol-lowering statins. That’s the upshot of a new American Heart Association advisory.
statins, cholesterol, heart, health
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2017-37-04
Friday, 04 August 2017 12:37 PM
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