Heart disease affects 65 million Americans annually. Almost one million Americans have a heart attack every year and one person dies of heart disease every 39 seconds. In fact, one of three deaths that occur in the U.S. is caused by heart disease.

The total cost of treating heart disease in 2008 was estimated at $300 billion and when you consider that 90 percent of this disease is caused by poor lifestyle choices we have to wonder whether the money could be better spent on preventive measures.

So if lifestyle choices such as food and exercise can keep us healthy it would be good to know what foods to avoid and which to consume. Unfortunately, the medical community has been using outdated science from 50+ years ago when advising diet choices so a lot of people are left confused.

The High-Fat Food Myth & Heart Disease

Myth: Eating foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood.

We have been told for decades to watch our consumption of red meat, eggs, and bacon and other fatty foods as they would raise our cholesterol levels. A low fat diet would protect our hearts. But is it true? It turns out that newer; more scientifically sound studies do not support this hypothesis. In fact, the body regulates the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling internal production. This means that when cholesterol intake in the diet goes down, the body makes more. When cholesterol intake in the diet goes up, the body makes less.

Diets do play a role in the onset of heart disease but one must look at overall eating patterns to make the connection. The “Western Diet” which is high in red and processed meats, white flour, sugary drinks, and deep fried foods then low in fruits, vegetable, whole grains, and healthy fats is a risk factor for heart disease. If you look at other diets such as the “Mediterranean Diet” which appear to lower the risk of heart disease, you will find high-fat intake through olive oil, nuts, and seeds but also plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

The bottom line is that diet does affect the risk of getting heart disease but we should not be avoiding fats altogether as a way to stay healthy. On the contrary, healthy fats are an important part of a healthy diet.

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