When I was 16 years old my father had a heart attack. While it was a scary ordeal, he was lucky enough to come out of it relatively unscathed, and with a few lifestyle changes, he was back to his old self in no time. However, many of those lifestyle changes were obviously instigated at home, and I will forever remember the day when my mother came home from the grocery store and instead of butter, she bought margarine.
“What the heck is this?” I vividly remember asking, only to be informed that this would be the new norm in our house as the doctors told my father he needed to cut out saturated fats. Needless to say, it was a sad day, and it wouldn’t be for a few more years before I would regularly have butter again.
However, and is if to add insult to injury, it seems that a group of cardiologists is telling us that the belief that saturated fat found in foods like butter, cheese, and meat clogs artery isn’t just not as serious as we thought, but “just plain wrong.”
“Even in people with established heart disease, reducing saturated fat alone doesn’t reduce heart attacks,” says British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, of Lister Hospital, and an adviser to the U.K.
national obesity forum.
According to Malhotra and his co-authors who wrote the editorial that was published in the online issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the time has come to shift the narrative and address the core causes of heart disease.
“One thing that’s very clear when you look at the totality of the evidence: saturated fat does not clog the heart arteries. And sadly, for many years — for decades, in fact — this has been the primary focus of treatment of heart disease and public health advice,” Malhotra said in an interview.
Sadly, many doctors believe that damage has already been caused by this misinformation over the years. This is due to the fact that as a result of the warning about saturated fats, people shifted their diets towards consuming more carbohydrates.
This practice, however, is a problem in and of itself, as processed carbs and refined carbs also play a part in developing cardiovascular diseases.
“What this editorial really brought to light was that your diet, if it’s a diet rich in carbohydrates, can be associated with what’s called insulin resistance,” said cardiologist Dr. Michael Farkouh, who is the chair of multinational clinical trials at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital. “That allows your innate inflammatory process in the body to attack the vessel wall and start the process of hardening of the arteries.”
So what should the focus be on? Simple, according to these doctors. A Mediterranean-style diet, taking a brisk walk daily and minimizing stress, they say is all you need to be concern about. And as avid butter lovers, we could not be happier.