Tag Archives: CVD

No Link Between Fat and CHD

A new “meta analysis” of existing studies purports to find no link between fat intake and coronary heart disease (CHD):

Conclusions: A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat.

The problem with this study is that it is a meta analysis, which as Dr. Eades explains:

For those who don’t know, meta-analyses are compilation studies in which researchers comb the medical literature for papers on a particular subject and then combine all the data from the individual studies together into one large study. This combining is often done to bring together a collection of studies, none of which contain data that has reached statistical significance, to see if the aggregate of all the data in the studies reaches statistical significance. I think these types of meta-analyses are highly suspect, because they can lead to conclusions not warranted by the actual data.

Those same concerns apply to this study, of course. But one thing this study does is help counter the other meta analysis studies that purport to show a link between dietary fat intake and heart disease.

Meanwhile, we find another study that says butter ain’t so bad:

Now a new study from Lund University in Sweden shows that butter leads to considerably less elevation of blood fats after a meal compared with olive oil and a new type of canola and flaxseed oil. The difference was clear above all in men, whereas in women it was more marginal.

Seems that about 20 percent of the fat in butter consists of short and medium-length fatty acids which are metabolized for energy and don’t contribute to blood lipid levels.

Good news for me. Butter is one of my favorite foods.

American Heart Assoc & Low Carb

The American Heart Association is now recommending a lower carb diet for prevention of cardiovascular heart disease, heralding the beginning of the Low Carb Age!

A new study, recently presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Orlando, FL, tested the effect of a low fat verses moderate fat diet. The low fat diet contained 20 percent of calories from fat, 65 percent from carbs and 15 percent from protein (this is the standard low fat diet that has been recommended for years). The “moderate fat diet” increases fat, and to keep the calories consistent, lowers the carbohydrate contribution. The moderate fat diet in the study has 40 percent of the calories from fat, 45 percent from carbohydrate and 15 percent protein. HealthDay, from the National Institutes of Health, quotes the AHA:

“This is a good study that essentially confirms that the current recommendations are appropriate,” said Alice Lichtenstein, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association (AHA). “Since 2000, the AHA has been recommending not a low-fat diet, but one that is low in saturated fats and trans fatty acids.”

People with metabolic syndrome are glucose-intolerant, meaning they can’t process blood sugar well. Low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets exacerbate this condition, Lichtenstein explained.

The study is explained in more detail on our Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome research page. The conclusion of the study gives the bottom line:

Conclusions: This is the first study to examine the effects of low fat vs. moderate fat diet in MetS. MF compared to LF diet improves the atherogenic dyslipidemia of MetS. MF diet is a preferable dietary intervention in people with MetS to improve CVD risk.

Whew. What the heck does that mean? Here’s a layman’s plain English translation:

This is the first study to examine the effects of low fat vs. a moderate fat diet with lower carbohydrates in patients with metabolic syndrome. The moderate fat diet compared to the low fat diet improves the heart disease related risks of various blood fats (VLDL, LDL, triglycerides, etc.) in people with metabolic syndrome. The moderate fat diet is therefore a better diet for people with metabolic syndrome.

Health Day goes on to quote other experts:

Experts familiar with the study aren’t surprised by the findings. “This sort of falls within the boundaries of what we used to call the Atkins diet, which was a high-lipid and low-carb diet. Normally this kind of diet suppresses appetite, improves diabetes,” said Dr. Alfred Bove, president of the American College of Cardiology. “This diet looks like it does a good job of altering the negative metabolic effects of early diabetes or high carbohydrate stimulation,” he said.

“Much of this we’ve known before, but the idea is that a moderate-fat diet is something most people can tolerate,” Bove said. “It probably affects the way insulin is released because if you have a lot of carbohydrates in the diet, you tend to generate a lot of insulin, and insulin is the hormone that lowers blood sugar,” Bove explained. “In addition to lowering blood sugar, it also increases appetite so a lot of people on high-carb diets are restimulated to eat more.”