CNN’s special program, The Last Heart Attack aired Sunday, August 28, 2011, was hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical consultant. The program starred former President Bill Clinton. If you missed the program, I would say “Thank Goodness!” because it was filled with the conventional wisdom that fat is the cause of heart disease and in order to not develop any heart disease you should not eat any fats or oils. Nothing can be farther than the truth.
As my colleague Dr. Sid Baker would say, “Fat is more than what holds up your pants.” So please listen carefully. Historically, heart attacks only began to appear around the year 1910 when hydrogenation of dietary fats and oils was introduced. Again, man in his infinite wisdom tried to improve upon nature. Altering the oil and fat increased the oxidation of the molecule and increased the inflammation process which damaged blood vessels and tissues.
The science, however, is more complex than that. There are other factors which add insult to injury and they include vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Improving Heart Health
BY USING FATS AND OILS
Schroeder, the world’s authority on minerals, loves to tell the story of the fat cats who sat on their porches drinking mint juleps made from refined sugar while their slaves worked the sugar cane fields eating the raw sugar from the sugar canes. The slave owners died of heart disease while their slaves remained alive and healthy. The reason: 90% of the trace mineral chromium is removed by refining, yet chromium is essential for metabolism of carbohydrates.
We also know that Vitamin D is necessary in maintaining cardiovascular health and sunlight is the major source of Vitamin D. What did we do? We encouraged people to avoid the sun for fear of developing skin cancer. We are also learning the importance of Vitamin K2, one of the four fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). There are four kinds of Vitamin K. Everyone knows Vitamin K is important for coagulation of blood but that is only Vitamin K1.
Vitamin K2 literally pulls plaque out of our arteries and puts the calcium back on our bones. These vitamins require fat to be absorbed. I have written frequently about Vitamin D and K so you may want to go back and read some of my previous eAlerts.
Fats and Oils
IN MAN’S HISTORY
If you think that prior to 1920 when the first heart attacks were recorded we did not eat fats and oils, you are mistaken. The American diet consisted of lard, butter, cream and pork products but not a lot of vegetable oils such as soy, corn, cottonseed or canola.
Remember our ancestors way back in the Stone Age were hunter/gatherers. They ate only meats, vegetables, berries, seeds and nuts. When man tries to improve upon nature, he is more likely to get into trouble.
I will write my next eAlert on the amazing properties of some fats and oils and especially coconut oil, the most damned of them all. I want to leave you with a reminder that you must not remove all fats and oils out of your diet. Learn more about the importance of fats and oils by reading some authoritative sources such as Mary Enig’s, Know Your Fats.
Allan D. Lieberman, M.D., F.A.A.E.M.