Research conducted at the Karolinska Institutet found that engaging in 5 healthy lifestyle habits could prevent about 80% of 1st-time heart attacks in men. The researchers were surprised at how powerful a healthy lifestyle can be, noting: “It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks … What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors.”
The 2004 INTERHEART study, which looked at heart disease risk factors in over 50 countries around the world, also found that 90% of heart disease cases are completely preventable by modifying diet and lifestyle factors.
Tragically most people are not using these lifestyle habits to their advantage.
The Karolinska Institutet study involved men aged 45 to 79, and only 1% of them engaged in all 5 of the “low-risk” behaviors that could prevent a heart attack.
The Big Q: What are those 5 healthy lifestyle habits?
The Big A: They are as follows:
- A heart healthy diet
- Being physically active (walking/bicycling = 40 mins/day and exercising = 1 hr/week)
- Healthy waist circumference (waist circumference < 95 centimeters)
- Moderate alcohol consumption (10 to 30 grams/day)
- No smoking
When you hear “healthy diet” in reference to heart health, many people assume this means limiting your intake of saturated fats from animal foods. But, contrary to popular belief, refined carbs, sugar, and processed foods are the enemy, not the saturated fats found in foods such as butter, lard and eggs.
Part of the confusion on fats revolves around their impact on LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol.
According to the conventional view, high LDL is correlated with heart disease, and saturated fat does tend to raise LDL.
There are two kinds of LDL cholesterol particles:
- Small, dense LDL cholesterol
- Large, “fluffy” LDL cholesterol
The latter is not “bad” at all.
Research has confirmed that large LDL particles do not contribute to heart disease. The small, dense LDL particles do contribute to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, and trans fat increases small, dense LDL.
Saturated fat, on the other hand, increases large, fluffy and benign LDL.
More importantly, research has also shown that small, dense LDL particles are increased by eating refined sugar and carbohydrates, such as bread, bagels, and soda.
Together, trans fats and refined carbs do far more harm than saturated fat.
In Y 2015, a meta-analysis again found no association between high levels of saturated fat in the diet and heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.
Back when the cholesterol hypothesis took hold, the food industry switched over to low-fat foods, replacing healthy saturated fats like butter and lard with harmful trans fats and lots of refined sugar and processed fructose, the latter of which is a prime “The Heart-Attack Diet.”
Mounting scientific evidence supports saturated fat as a necessary part of a heart-healthy diet and firmly debunks the myth that saturated fat promotes heart disease.
For optimal health, eat Real Food, this means plenty of saturated fats and little to no refined fats, especially refined vegetable oils and synthetic trans fats.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively
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