Your Road to Wellness

Cardiovascular Disease

Is Saturated Fat Bad For You?

By on in Cardiovascular Disease, Cholesterol, Diet, Eating, Eating, Fat | 0 comments

 

It is important to know the facts about saturated fat, because there are different opinions on this topic.

 

If you get it wrong, there may be serious health consequences as a result.

 

I think you agree that it is important to have a healthy cardiovascular system, because the blood is supplying the tissue with nutrients. It is especially important for the heart. Any chance that the blood supply to the heart gets compromised, you will be in big trouble.

 

If somebody claims that saturated fat is healthy, and it will not increase your cholesterol, a reference with good evidence should be provided. Moreover, if the author is not providing any evidence, or is referring to an article in the popular press, the author is only presenting his or her opinion.

 

You need evidence in the form of research published in a medical journal.

 

Even if the research is published in a medical journal, it may still not be designed well and could be biased. That’s why you will always find references with a link to the original abstract in the articles I write, to make it easy for you check the facts.

 

I have not found any reliable research so far supporting that saturated fat is healthy. I have however found studies showing that saturated fat is increasing cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, the most harmful type. This means that saturated fat will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

In a very recent research, 92 men and women were put on a diet. The first group has a diet which consisted of high in saturated fat from either cheese or butter. Some of them are on a diet high in monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat. Moreover, the remaining participants were in a low-fat diet high in carbohydrates. Each of the group had the diet for 4 weeks. This is what was found (Brassard D, et.al., 2017).  

 

LDL cholesterol increased the most after the butter diet, even more than after the cheese diet. Both the butter and the cheese diet increased the LDL more than the high carbohydrate diet. The diets are also high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.  

 

The following research is a summary of 12 studies. It also compared butter with cheese, and found the following. Cheese intake lowered LDL when compared to butter, but when compared to tofu, it increased LDL (de Goede J, et.al., 2015). This is the same as saying butter increased LDL more than cheese, and both butter and cheese increased LDL more than tofu.     

 

The HDL cholesterol, which has been considered protective for cardiovascular disease, was increased after the butter and cheese diets. It was significantly higher than for the carbohydrate diet. This may look like a benefit until you look at this study published in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world the Lancet (Voight BF, et.al., 2012).

 

When people with genetically high HDL were compared with people without these genes, it did not seem to lower the risk of myocardial infarction.  

 

What would be found if people with genetically low LDL were examined? This has been done.  That particular study was published in another of the world’s most prestigious medical journals (Cohen JC, et.al., 2006).

 

It was found that people with genetically low LDL had a substantial reduction of coronary events. This is still the case even in the populations with a high prevalence of other non- cholesterol risk factors.

 

In another research, men with low cholesterol levels at the start were followed for many years. They had an estimated increased life expectancy of 3.8 to 8.7 years (Stamler J, et.al., 2000).

 

Research shows us that saturated fat from animal sources is not good, it will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

The good news is that you can control that to a large extent by changing what you eat. By doing so, you can produce the results you want.


References:

Stamler, J., Daviglus, M. L., Garside, D. B., Dyer, A. R., Greenland, P., & Neaton, J. D. (2000). Relationship of baseline serum cholesterol levels in 3 large cohorts of younger men to long-term coronary, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality and to longevity. Jama284(3), 311-318.

Voight, B. F., Peloso, G. M., Orho-Melander, M., Frikke-Schmidt, R., Barbalic, M., Jensen, M. K., … & Schunkert, H. (2012). Plasma HDL cholesterol and risk of myocardial infarction: a mendelian randomisation study. The Lancet380(9841), 572-580.

de Goede, J., Geleijnse, J. M., Ding, E. L., & Soedamah-Muthu, S. S. (2015). Effect of cheese consumption on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition reviews73(5), 259-275.

Brassard, D., Tessier-Grenier, M., Allaire, J., Rajendiran, E., She, Y., Ramprasath, V., … & Jones, P. J. (2017). Comparison of the impact of SFAs from cheese and butter on cardiometabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition105(4), 800-809.

Cohen, J. C., Boerwinkle, E., Mosley Jr, T. H., & Hobbs, H. H. (2006). Sequence variations in PCSK9, low LDL, and protection against coronary heart disease. New England Journal of Medicine354(12), 1264-1272.


Learn To Eat Program:

Recommendations that work. Improve your memory with the food you eat. This is not a regular diet program

New and interesting research on the risk of heart disease.

By on in Cardiovascular Disease, Research | 0 comments


You have probably heard recent statements that saturated fat is now healthy and does not increase the risk of heart disease as previously believed. You should, for that reason, eat a lot of butter and dairy products as well as fat from other animal sources.

If you happen to read information like that, look for the references and if any are provided read carefully to see how the research was conducted.

Here is the latest on the topic of saturated fat intake compared with unsaturated fat and sources of carbohydrates as it relates to cardiovascular risk (Li Y, et al. 2015).

84,628 women and 42,908 men were followed for 24 to 30 years.

It was found that by replacing 5% of the energy intake from saturated fats with especially polyunsaturated fat, but also monounsaturated fat (these are the types of fat we find in vegetables, nuts and seeds), the cardiovascular disease risk was significantly reduced.

This was also found, but to a lesser extent, when saturated fat was replaced with carbohydrates from whole grains.

When saturated fat was replaced with refined carbohydrates and added sugars, it was not lowering the cardiovascular risk.

Most of the studies of this kind treat all carbohydrates the same, they don’t differentiate between very high glycemic index carbohydrates or low glycemic index carbohydrates.

The results would for that reason not be accurate.

Whole grains have a lower glycemic index than white flour and sugar, but they still don’t have a really low glycemic index the way we eat them.

Think of what you could accomplish if, instead of eating saturated fat, you ate fat from vegetable sources, nuts and seeds and a really low glycemic index source of carbohydrates like legumes instead of the grains.

This can be a very effective approach to not only lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, but also the risk for most other chronic conditions.

It can easily be accomplished with some planning and the right tools.

 

Learn to Eat:  Recommendations that work. This is not a regular diet program.

 

Li Y1, Hruby A1, Bernstein AM2, Ley SH1, Wang DD1, Chiuve SE3, Sampson L1, Rexrode KM4, Rimm EB5, Willett WC5, Hu FB6. Saturated Fats Compared With Unsaturated Fats and Sources of Carbohydrates in Relation to Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Prospective Cohort Study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Oct 6;66(14):1538-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.07.055.

What you don't know can harm you.

By on in Cardiovascular Disease | 0 comments

You may not have heard about trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), but this is an interesting substance, especially since research indicates that it is causing atherosclerosis.

TMAO increases the accumulation of cholesterol in macrophages (a type of white blood cell) also causing foam cell formation (Wang Z, et al. 2011). This results in increased inflammation and oxidation of cholesterol which is deposited in atherosclerotic plaque (Wang Z, et al. 2011).

Where do we find TMAO?

TMAO is produced by the bacterial flora in the gut by metabolizing trimethylamine (TMA) found in dietary phosphatidylcholine, choline and L-carnitine (Brown JM, Hazen SL, 2014). Sources of phosphatidylcholine, choline and L-carnitine are especially meats, egg yolk and high fat dairy products.

The following is a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.

When 4007 patients having coronary angiography were followed for 3 years, increased levels of TMAO were associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events (Tang WH, et al. 2013). Angiography is a medical imaging technique used to visualize the inside, or lumen of blood vessels.

What can you do?

A plant based diet will not produce high levels of TMAO because it contains less phosphatidylcholine, choline and L-carnitine , but also because of another interesting reason.

When omnivores and vegans were given the same amount of carnitine it was found that vegans had a markedly reduced capacity to produce TMAO because their bacterial flora was very different (Koeth RA, et al. 2013).

By eating a plant based diet you can avoid high levels of TMAO.

 

 

Learn to Eat:  Recommendations that work. This is not a regular diet program.

 

 

 

Brown JM1, Hazen SL. Metaorganismal nutrient metabolism as a basis of cardiovascular disease. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2014 Feb;25(1):48-53. doi: 10.1097/MOL.0000000000000036.
Koeth RA1, Wang Z, Levison BS, Buffa JA, Org E, Sheehy BT, Britt EB, Fu X, Wu Y, Li L, Smith JD, DiDonato JA, Chen J, Li H, Wu GD, Lewis JD, Warrier M, Brown JM, Krauss RM, Tang WH, Bushman FD, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL. Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis. Nat Med. 2013 May;19(5):576-85. doi: 10.1038/nm.3145. Epub 2013 Apr 7.
Tang WH1, Wang Z, Levison BS, Koeth RA, Britt EB, Fu X, Wu Y, Hazen SL. Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 25;368(17):1575-84. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1109400. 
Wang Z1, Klipfell E, Bennett BJ, Koeth R, Levison BS, Dugar B, Feldstein AE, Britt EB, Fu X, Chung YM, Wu Y, Schauer P, Smith JD, Allayee H, Tang WH, DiDonato JA, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL. Gut flora metabolism of phosphatidylcholine promotes cardiovascular disease. Nature. 2011 Apr 7;472(7341):57-63. doi: 10.1038/nature09922.

 

What nutritional supplements can you take to support healthy endothelium function?

By on in Cardiovascular Disease, General Health | 0 comments

                 

 

I have already reviewed some of the reasons for endothelium dysfunction (buildup in the arteries) and how you can use food to help prevent or reduce it. So let’s take a look at what else you can do.

Plaque ( buildup in the arteries), especially the unstable plaque, will increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. We know that low grade inflammation and free radical damage are big risk factors making high cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol dangerous.
It makes sense for that reason to do what we can to reduce both low grade inflammation and free radical damage.

Not only does it make sense for the health of the cardiovascular system, but it may make you feel more comfortable, experience less pain and stiffness, and also make you feel better emotionally.

I will talk more about all the problems inflammation and excessive free radical damage may cause at a later date.

First let’s see what you can do to reduce inflammation.

Curcumin

Curcumin is an ingredient of the Indian spice Turmeric.

Curcumin is one of the most researched natural ingredients there is, and it has been documented to have anti-inflammatory effects by reducing the levels of some well known inflammatory cytokines like TNF-alpha, IL-1beta and CRP(Ren J, Sowers JR, 2014, Gupta SC, et al. 2013).

Why not use anti inflammatory drugs instead?

Anti inflammatory drugs will not reduce cardiovascular disease risk, they will instead increase the risk, that’s one of the side effects of these medications.

Here is an interesting study for you.

Post menopausal women were assigned to either a moderate exercise group for 8 weeks, a group taking curcumin orally for 8 weeks or a placebo group(Akazawa N, et al. 2012). Flow mediated dilation was measured before the start of the study and at the end as a way of evaluating vascular endothelial function, because declining endothelial function is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk.

Surprisingly, flow mediated dilation increased equally in both the exercise group and the group taking curcumin.

I don’t suggest not exercising, I think the best solution would be to both exercise and to take curcumin, but that combination was not tested in this study.

There is however one problem with curcumin, it’s not well absorbed. I did not use curcumin before just for that reason, because the dose had to be so high that it would be impractical to take it. This however, has changed. There are now ways to make curcumin better absorbed so the daily dose to achieve results is not very high.

When 30 mg of regular curcumin powder was compared with 30 mg of a formula called Theracurmin, which used nano particles, the Theracurmin was absorbed 27 times better(Sasaki H, et al. 2011).

Now it is practical to use it. One capsule twice daily is all you need.

 

Better Curcumin

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  Akazawa N1, Choi Y, Miyaki A, Tanabe Y, Sugawara J, Ajisaka R, Maeda S. Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women. Nutr Res. 2012 Oct;32(10):795-9. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.09.002. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

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Carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease risk.

By on in Cardiovascular Disease | 0 comments

 

Maybe you have been told that it’s the fat in your diet that will increase your cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. To improve your numbers and cardiovascular risk you should decrease your fat intake and eat more carbohydrates, but will that produce good results?

If you’ve tried that without paying attention to what kinds of carbohydrates you ate, you probably discovered that it did not work very well.
Maybe you were told as the advertisements say, if diet and exercise does not work you should take medication. What the advertisements did not say was that you need to try an effective diet.
Not all carbohydrates are the same and will produce the same results. We all know that sugar is not healthy, but did you know that sugar will increase your cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol(Te Morenga LA, et al. 2014)?

It’s not only sugar that is having this effect. Other carbohydrates which have a high glycemic index(the type that elevates the blood glucose high) will also increase cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL. If you instead eat low glycemic index carbohydrates(that’s the type that will stabilize your blood glucose at a low normal level) you will see your cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL decrease(Jenkins DJ, et al. 1985). This was even known in 1985 so it is not exactly news, but some research is still conducted today where this is not taken into consideration, where all carbohydrates are presented like they were producing the same results.

Here is an interesting example for you comparing white rice with beans(Mattei J, et al. 2011). An increase in servings of white rice increased systolic blood pressure, increased triglycerides and fasting blood glucose, while it decreased HDL cholesterol, the so called good cholesterol.
An increase in servings of beans were instead associated with lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides and an increase in HDL.
How about inflammation, that’s one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Is inflammation affected by the type of carbohydrates you eat?
Absolutely, glycemic load which is another way of rating how high a food will elevate the blood glucose, was found to be significantly associated with hs-CRP, the main inflammatory marker for cardiovascular risk(Liu S, et al. 2002).
Eating food with a higher glycemic load increased inflammation.

The more fiber the food contains, the more it tends to slow down the absorption of the glucose in the food.
So when high fiber intake was compared with low fiber intake it was found that the higher fiber intake lowered hs-CRP(Ma Y, et al. 2006).
Does that mean that food with the same fiber content will produce the same results?
Even if that sounds reasonable, that’s not the way it works.
When a low glycemic index diet were type 2 diabetes participants were encouraged to increase their daily legume(beans,lentils) intake with at least 1 cup per day were compared with another group eating a high wheat fiber diet, this is what they found.
The legume diet was more effective than the diet high in wheat fiber when it came to lowering HbA1c, a measurement of long term glucose control. It was also more effective in reducing the cardiovascular risk score(Jenkins DJ, et al. 2012).

As a low glycemic index carbohydrate source, nothing seems to be as effective as beans and lentils.

Learn to Eat:  Recommendations that work. This is not a regular diet program.

 

 

 

  Jenkins DJ1, Kendall CW, Augustin LS, Mitchell S, Sahye-Pudaruth S, Blanco Mejia S, Chiavaroli L, Mirrahimi A, Ireland C, Bashyam B, Vidgen E, de Souza RJ, Sievenpiper JL, Coveney J, Leiter LA, Josse RG. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Nov 26;172(21):1653-60.
 Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Kalmusky J, Giudici S, Giordano C, Wong GS, Bird JN, Patten R, Hall M, Buckley G, et al. Low glycemic index carbohydrate foods in the management of hyperlipidemia. Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 Oct;42(4):604-17.
 Liu S1, Manson JE, Buring JE, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Ridker PM. Relation between a diet with a high glycemic load and plasma concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in middle-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;75(3):492-8.
Mattei J1, Hu FB, Campos H. A higher ratio of beans to white rice is associated with lower cardiometabolic risk factors in Costa Rican adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;94(3):869-76. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.013219. Epub 2011 Aug 3.
 Ma Y1, Griffith JA, Chasan-Taber L, Olendzki BC, Jackson E, Stanek EJ 3rd, Li W, Pagoto SL, Hafner AR, Ockene IS. Association between dietary fiber and serum C-reactive protein. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):760-6.
Te Morenga LA1, Howatson AJ1, Jones RM1, Mann J1. Dietary sugars and cardiometabolic risk: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of the effects on blood pressure and lipids. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):65-79. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.081521. Epub 2014 May 7.

 

More on salt, how much do you need?

By on in Cardiovascular Disease, General Health, Health Risk, Heart disease, Salt, Tissue Recovery Blog | 0 comments

Salt and rosemaryThis research is interesting because it measured sodium and potassium excretion and examined the association between major cardiovascular events and death(O’Donnell M et al. 2014).
Urine samples from 101,945 persons in 17 countries were included in the study with a follow up time of an average 3.7 years. The average estimated sodium excretion was 4.93 g per day and the potassium was 2.12 g per day.

So how does this relate to sodium intake?

Based on the urinary excretion, an estimated sodium intake between 3 g per day and 6 g per day was associated with a lower risk of death and cardiovascular events than was either a higher or a lower intake.

Higher potassium excretion was also associated with lower risks.

These findings are higher than what’s been recommended for sodium intake in the U.S.. The recommendations in the U.S. are now being questioned by many.

 

 

 

O’Donnell M1, Mente A, Rangarajan S, McQueen MJ, Wang X, Liu L, Yan H, Lee SF, Mony P, Devanath A, Rosengren A, Lopez-Jaramillo P, Diaz R, Avezum A, Lanas F, Yusoff K, Iqbal R, Ilow R, Mohammadifard N, Gulec S, Yusufali AH, Kruger L, Yusuf R, Chifamba J, Kabali C, Dagenais G, Lear SA, Teo K, Yusuf S; PURE Investigators. Urinary sodium and potassium excretion, mortality, and cardiovascular events. N Engl J Med. 2014 Aug 14;371(7):612-23. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1311889.