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Is salt dangerous? Certain organizations – such as those issuing official dietary guidelines – have warned for a long time against salt and recommended a reduced intake. But as often when it comes to nutrition, the science is far from settled.
A recent review of all good studies in this area shows that the amount of salt that most people consume is associated with good health. Both an extremely high salt consumption and a low consumption seem to be worse.
- American Journal of Hypertension: Compared With Usual Sodium Intake, Low- and Excessive-Sodium Diets Are Associated With Increased Mortality: A Meta-Analysis
The review can be added to several similar reviews in recent years, that question the dead-certain warnings against salt. Neither too much, nor too little, seems to be best.
You can actually get too little salt. This causes fatigue, dizziness and difficulty concentrating. You lose focus. And maybe you don’t just feel worse from salt deficiency, perhaps it’s also really bad for your health.
Avoid high doses of salt from junk food, cheap processed foods, soda and bread. Extreme amounts of salt are hardly good for you, and there are more reasons to avoid such foods. But if you eat real food, you can probably put as much salt on your food as you like.
If you have symptoms of salt deficiency, try taking half a teaspoon of salt, dissolved in water. If you quickly feel better, you were probably salt deficient. Continue Reading →
Are butter, and other saturated fats, bad for us? No.
Yet another new major review of all good science shows that saturated fat is as harmless as other natural fats, whether unsaturated or polyunsaturated.
This review goes through all observational studies and randomized intervention studies of high quality that have been done. Which means all the best science available on the subject:
- Annals of Internal Medicine: Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
The result? People who eat a lot of butter or other saturated fats don’t get sicker. And people who reduce their butter intake don’t get any better. There simply is no connection between butter and heart disease.
When are older so-called experts going to give up their outdated and unscientific warnings about butter? It’s time to embrace science.
- The Telegraph: No link found between saturated fat and heart disease
- Mail ONLINE: Saturated fat ‘ISN’T bad for your heart’: Major study questions decades of dietary advice
- NPR: Don’t Fear The Fat: Experts Question Saturated Fat Guidelines
Today, fear of butter lacks scientific support. It’s based on old preconceptions and on an inability to update knowledge.
If you want to be taken seriously as a “nutrition expert” you’d better keep updated. It’s not good enough to continue spreading ideas from the 80′s about fat, ideas that have long since been refuted.
There has to be a limit to how long you can bury your head in the sand. Or what do you think?
Here’s an impressive life transformation story, from Gareth Hicks: Continue Reading →
Are today’s high rates of overconsumption of sodas and other sugar sources a direct cause of heart disease? It’s possible, more and more people think so, and a new study gives this idea further support.
- CBS News: Too much sugar linked to fatal heart disease, even in those who are not obese
- BBC News: Sweet tooth linked to heart attacks
Of course, today’s study only shows statistical associations. In this study, people who consumed large amounts of sugar, for example sodas, got heart disease more often. Correlation doesn’t prove causation, so this doesn’t mean that this study has proven what is cause and effect. However, this study did demonstrate a linear association: the more sugar the greater the risk.
This study is just another piece of the puzzle, and more and more people are starting to see a clear picture, and taking the health hazards stemming from excessive sugar consumption seriously.
Prof. Laura Schmidt at University of California San Francisco writes in a commentary in JAMA:
We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in research on the health effects of sugar, one fueled by extremely high rates of added sugar overconsumption in the American public.
Past concerns revolved around obesity and dental caries as the main health hazards. Overconsumption of added sugars has long been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, under the old paradigm, it was assumed to be a marker for unhealthy diet or obesity. The new paradigm views sugar overconsumption as an independent risk factor in CVD as well as many other chronic diseases, including diabetes mellitus, liver cirrhosis, and dementia—all linked to metabolic perturbations involving dyslipidemia, hypertension, and insulin resistance. The new paradigm hypothesizes that sugar has adverse health effects above any purported role as “empty calories” promoting obesity. Too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick.
The fight against cigarettes has almost been won in the West. Now the fight against sugar is starting to get serious. The health benefits may be at least as great. Continue Reading →
The outdated fear-mongering propaganda claiming that a dramatically increased butter consumption in Sweden has also increased the incidence of heart disease is once again crushed by reality.
New statistics from The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare show the exact opposite. The incidence of heart attacks in Sweden keeps plummeting, for both men and women, just as they have done since 2005. We are becoming healthier, despite eating more and more butter.
The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare: Fewer people suffer heart attacks (statistics 1988-2012, Google translated)
As modern science time and time again has shown that a low-fat diet doesn’t do anything good for heart health, nobody should be surprised. But there are definitely people that need to update their knowledge.
Above is the butter consumption in Sweden (yellow line) in relation to statistics on heart disease (blue + purple). The axis for butter consumption is to the right.
The Swedish butter consumption just keeps going up, while the incidence of heart attacks keeps going down.
So, what’s the correlation between butter consumption and heart disease? None. There is no correlation.
That the old theory on saturated fat and heart disease has been a mistake has already been proven in high quality studies (RCT). This is just a telling illustration.
Fear of butter is as scientifically well-founded as fear of monsters under the bed. Continue Reading →
This is entertaining. Yesterday an Australian TV-show detailed how saturated fat has nothing to do with heart disease. Today the Australian Heart Foundation’s Facebook page is in damage control mode.
While more and more Australians are getting obese the Heart Foundation is choosing to campaign against salt (of doubtful importance) and collecting industry money for recommending candy for breakfast. They are way behind the times.
Perhaps you can help them wake up.
What is the cause of heart disease? For the past decades the dogma has been that saturated fat and cholesterol are the culprits. But a growing number realize that this outdated idea has been a mistake.
Yesterday Australia’s foremost science television show, Catalyst, broadcasted an episode on the subject (video clip above). There are many physicians and experts interviewed in the show, and the majority believes that the over-simplified cholesterol theory is simply wrong.
The real cause of heart disease? Inflammation in the artery walls. This may have many causes, but the amount of saturated fat you consume is not one of them. Here are some more probable contributing factors:
- stress on the artery wall due to high blood pressure
- high blood sugar levels that damage the cells inside the artery
- small, dense, oxidized LDL particles that may irritate the artery wall and/or get in between the cells in the wall
- smoking, which introduces substances to the blood that irritates the arteries
The three first factors are exacerbated by too much sugar and starch in the diet.
In addition to the above: stress. Stress exacerbates all the problems mentioned above – it raises blood pressure, increases blood sugar, worsens blood lipid profile and increases the tendency to adopt bad habits, such as smoking.
Not on the list: butter. Switching to polyunsaturated omega-6-fats won’t be protective either – according to new findings this may even be harmful!
It’s time for more brave experts to stand up and say “I was wrong, you were right”.
So how do you really prevent heart disease? Here’s my best advice: Continue Reading →
More and more people are questioning the silly old-fashioned fear of butter. A heart doctor writes in the latest issue of the respected British Medical Journal that it’s time to bust the myth that saturated fat has anything to do with heart disease.
A number of papers report on this and the heart doctor was on British morning TV today (watch).
Are you ready for the destruction of a few choice low-carb myths? A week ago I participated in a discussion, invited by a very popular Brazilian health site. Here’s the video – the English part starts at 2:28, after an introduction in Portuguese.
Some of the myths we discuss are:
- Myth: Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet.
- Myth: Fats are fattening and cause heart problems.
- Myth: Cholesterol in food is bad for your heart.
- Myth: To lose weight you need to count calories.
- Myth: Exercise is effective for weight loss.
Did you ever believe in any of these myths? I did.
Can a safe dietary supplement dramatically prolong life for people with heart failure? Yes, if we can believe the results from a new study.
The study enrolled people with severe heart failure. This is a condition where the heart can barely pump blood around the body any more. This, for example, after previous heart attacks have damaged the heart (a broken heart, literally). People with severe heart failure run a large risk of dying within a few years.
The study tested the dietary supplement coenzyme Q10 in heart failure. CoQ10 is an endogenous cholesterol-like substance involved in energy production in the cells. Particularly the heart contains a lot of Q10, probably because it takes so much energy to constantly pump blood. Q10 is also found in the food that we eat, particularly in meat and fish.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, are used by almost all people with heart disease. Interestingly enough, statins also reduce the production of the cholesterol-like substance Q10, and deficiency in Q10 has been shown to worsen the prognosis in heart failure. So what happens if you supplement with the substance?
Half of the study’s 420 participants with severe heart failure received supplementation with 300 mg CoQ10 daily for two years. The other half received a placebo. What do you think happened? Continue Reading →
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