The American Heart Association’s dietary guidelines have long been controversial, as I have reported for years. For decades, the AHA has had it out for saturated fats, found in healthy foods like butter and eggs. But in recent years, the AHA’s myth that saturated fat causes heart disease has begun to crumble like a chunk of blue cheese over your favorite salad.
And now, the worst has come to pass. (So please pass the ‘wurst.)
The AHA is dead wrong.
In fact, the science shows that restricting saturated fat does NOT lower heart disease risk.
For example, a massive 2014 Cambridge University analysis of 72 studies questions the assumption that reducing saturated fats results in less heart disease. The researchers analyzed data on more than 650,000 participants. They found no evidence to suggest men and women should restrict saturated fats to reduce their heart disease risk. And a 2009 review concluded that replacing saturated fats with carbs in the diet, as recommended by AHA, had no benefit.
And all the poor heart patients, who for decades have followed the AHA’s advice — substituting artificial margarine for butter, and cutting out eggs and other healthy foods — are worse off for it.
The AHA is dead wrong
So how is the big bureaucracy of the AHA handling all the real science?
Well, they proclaimed they would “review” their dietary guidelines.
But when reviewing these guidelines, they ignored established scientific links between heart disease and blood sugar and insulin levels, vitamin B and homocysteine levels, chronic inflammation and its indicators, excess body fat, and fat distribution. Instead, their “review” only considered dietary fat and dietary salt!
And so, it appears the AHA is holding fast like Captain Ahab to the white whale of their obsession that we must eat a low-fat, high-carb diet for optimal heart health.
The saturated fat fable and the great salt scam are the two biggest dietary myths ever foisted on the American public. So when I read that the AHA only considered data on fat and salt when it comes to heart disease, it makes them look like Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, or perhaps just Dumb and Dumber.
So let’s review the real science one more time…
Cholesterol is a bystander when it comes to heart disease
Cholesterol in the diet — found in healthy foods like eggs, butter and meat — does not affect cholesterol in the blood. In addition, most people who have heart attacks don’t have elevated blood cholesterol. They have normal blood cholesterol. So really, at best, cholesterol is just a bystander in the whole process.
In the 21st century, heart attack patients are much more likely to have metabolic syndrome, with high blood sugar, high blood pressure, excess abdominal body fat, low “good” cholesterol, and high blood triglycerides. Of course, blood triglycerides do not increase by eating dietary fat. They increase by eating sugars, carbs and processed grains and starches. Low fat/high carb diets also raise insulin and lower “good” cholesterol. These are the big reasons why high-carb diets are a major risk factor for heart disease.
But you won’t find any of these factors mentioned in the AHA dietary guidelines. Amazingly, their “dietary” guidelines don’t even cite any studies that actually analyzed whether following a specific diet lowered the risk of developing heart disease. So how can they even get away with calling them “dietary guidelines,” when they really never even looked at diet?
The truth is, the AHA doesn’t care what the science says. They are a money-making operation, pure and simple.
Cut a big fat check for the AHA’s “Heart Check Program”
For more than 20 years, the AHA has been making a fortune from its “Heart Check Program.” They sell the AHA “heart-check mark” for $1,000 to $7,500 each (with annual renewals) to food companies to put on their packages. Currently, the AHA has sold their heart-check marks to 889 foods.
Of course, if your food doesn’t have a package, then it doesn’t need a heart-check mark on it. No surprise, therefore, that the AHA would ignore truly heart-healthy foods, like fresh eggs. Instead, their focus is on processed foods — which lead to some truly disastrous consequences for your heart (and your health in general).
Packaged, processed foods are killing us
The AHA recommends daily sugar intake of less than 100 calories for women, and 150 calories for men. Yet many of their approved, “heart healthy” packaged foods contain added sugar. In fact, many AHA-approved foods contain the entire total daily sugar limit all by themselves, such as “candied” sweet potatoes and (until 2010) a drink called “chocolate moose attack,” which contained more sugar per ounce then regular Pepsi Cola. (“Chocolate heart attack” might have been a better name.)
What’s even worse is that, for years, the AHA even stamped its approval on foods made with artificial trans fats, which are so unhealthy the FDA has banned them outright. Some of the side effects of trans fats include raising “bad” cholesterol, lowering “good” cholesterol, increasing chronic inflammation, and depositing calcium in arteries, literally hardening the arteries.
Technically, the AHA is a “non-profit” organization. But in addition to raking in the cash for its meaningless check marks, it also receives outright “contributions” from big food companies. Among its lifetime donors of $1 million or more are Campbell Soups, Quaker Oats, and ConAgra. Sounds more like a “con” job on the American public, to me.
The AHA’s “heart-check mark” isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. (Of course, the paper might taste better than some of the foods they approve.)
Stay away from packaged and processed foods — especially if it has a heart healthy stamp on it. And while you’re at it, stay away from the AHA dietary guidelines altogether.
If you truly want to keep your heart healthy with foods and other natural approaches backed by real science, see my report The Insider’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy and Statin-Free Life. You can order a copy by clicking here.
“The Heart Association’s Junk Science Diet,” The Daily Beast (thedailybeast.com) 5/22/2014
“Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” Ann Intern Med.2014;160(6):398-406