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Fats, Carbohydrates and Heart Disease: New Research
February 15, 2011 No comments
New Research Challenges Dietary Status QuoIn the 1950s, the well-known American scientist Ancel Keys made a correlation between dietary cholesterol and heart disease in ‘The Seven Countries’ Study. This now famous study led to the promotion of a low fat diet as a healthy heart diet, which is taken as a given nowadays. Processed foods were modified to remove most of the fat, which was replaced with carbohydrates – primarily sugar – to make the food more palatable. We were instructed to eat a diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates for a happier, healthier heart. We did as we were told. Since ’The Seven Countries’ study, however, heart disease rates have not plummeted as expected, despite the global dietary trend. Scientists have continued their research efforts to combat these statistics, resulting in a significant discovery:
New Cholesterol Research:Firstly, the Seven Countries study has been found to have been incompletely carried out in a number of ways which brings the once clear correlation between cholesterol and heart disease into question. But more importantly, new research has revealed that the low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is thought of as the “bad” cholesterol, actually comes in two types rather than just one:
- Large buoyant LDLs (Pattern A) - imagine light, bouncy beach balls
- Small dense LDLs (Pattern B) - imagine smaller, evasive golf balls
So the smaller ‘golf ball’ LDL’s are now becoming recognised as the ‘bad’ ones in terms of heart disease risk; while the larger, ‘beach ball’ LDL particles are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Crucially, this new research has discovered that the LDLs the body produces are influenced by diet:
- A diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat leads to a larger number of the small dense variety of LDL - not good for the poor old heart.
- While a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates causes more of the large, buoyant types of LDLs, and a happier cardiovascular system. Obviously it is still important to get a good balance of high quality undamaged fats in the diet and avoid highly processed foods.