Heartbeat Heart-Healthy Diet
The term "Heart-Healthy Diet" is most associated with the American Heart Association. It was introduced in 1956 as the "Prudent Diet" and reflects the views of the American medical establishment, although the underlying science seems questionable. It also reflects the lobbying efforts of the powerful seed oil cartels so it's been codified into legislation and government diet recommendations. Modifications have been needed several times, most recently to remove its hearty endorsement of trans fats and to tone down its demonization of eggs.

Setting
Diets


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Overview

The stated purpose of the AHA diet is prevention of cardiovascular disease, particularly myocardial infraction (heart attack). Its main points are:

  • Reduction of fat in the diet to 25% to 35% of calories and replacement of saturated fats with mono and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Severe reduction of Cholesterol in the diet.
  • Reduction of meat protein in the diet as a tool for reducing both saturated fats and cholesterol.
  • Use of fat free or 1% dairy products.
  • Increase in fiber from whole grains, fruit and vegetables
  • Reduction of Salt in the diet.

The AHA differs from most health oriented diets in not particularly endorsing olive oil. Their theory doesn't favor monounsaturated fats over rancidity prone polyunsaturated fats. Products of rancidity are suspected of being carcinogenic but cancer isn't the AHA's venue. On the other hand, the seed oil cartels definitely favor polyunsaturated oils.

Do-gooders following AHA guidelines hounded the fast food industry into abandoning beef tallow for frying. The industry found they couldn't use the recommended polyunsaturated oils (corn, soy, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, etc.) because they became unusably rancid in less than a day's use (beef tallow lasted a month).

Instead the fast food industry had to use more durable partially hydrogenated vegetable oils called "trans fats" which were at the time endorsed by the AHA. Further scientific research proved trans fats to be probably more dangerous than any other form of fat. The fast food industry is now trying to move to gene-modified oils that mimic olive oil and to fully hydrogenated oils. Fully hydrogenated oils are known as "saturated fats", what the AHA wanted to get us away from in the first place. The public would have been better served sticking with beef tallow.

The AHA demonizes saturated fats as the primary cause of clogged arteries and heart attacks - but it seems the scientific basis is questionable and unsupported by demographics.

  • Coconut oil is the most saturated fat available (92% vs. 44% for lard). Significant populations cook everything in coconut oil, but these populations show no signs of the clogged arteries AHA theory predicts.
  • At the kick-off for the AHA's Prudent Diet one panel member was an elderly cardiologist, Dr. Dudley White. He pointed out that when he started his career (1921) the U.S. practically lived on lard and butter, yet he didn't see a single case of myocardial infraction until 1928. His opinion: "I think that we would all benefit from the kind of diet that we had at the time when no one had ever heard the word corn oil".
  • In the period 2003 - 2004 huge numbers of Americans were on the Atkins Diet eating substantial amounts of saturated animal fats along with the large amount of protein called for by that diet. I suppose they all should have died, but instead they showed no particular increase in cholesterol problems or artery clogging.

Of course the AHA has studies to support its position, but lets be realistic about research - it's very expensive but doesn't generate a revenue stream to fund itself. Scientists are completely dependent on grants, directly or indirectly from people with money who want scientific support for whatever it is they make that money from. Scientists, consciously or unconsciously, are likely to frame their research and interpret their result to favor what's being paid for.

In my admittedly non-medical opinion demographics are definitive. "Do people who eat a whole lot of this stuff have the problems studies predict?" If not, there's something wrong with the studies.

All in all, increase in clogged arteries and some forms of cancer seem to track the increase in use of the very trans fats and polyunsaturated oils the Prudent Diet promoted as the cure. I refer you to the the links below so you can read them and make up your own mind.

Disclaimer:   I have no medical credentials whatever. What I've written here is gleaned from publicly available sources and is for educational purposes only, not to to be construed as medical advice.

Links

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©Andrew Grygus - ajg@aaxnet.com - Linking and non-commercial use permitted