February is famous for hearts. On a less romantic side, the American Heart Association tags along with National Heart Month to raise awareness of heart disease prevention. That’s mostly down to touting a healthy lifestyle, including the now very familiar blood-cholesterol-lowering low-fat diet and avoiding trans-fats.
But nutritionist Jonny Bowden, Ph.D, CNS, says the medical community at large has got it seriously wrong. Bowden co-authored “The Great Cholesterol Myth” with leading cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, M.D., FACC, founder of integrative cardiology website www.heartmdinstitute.com, saying that dietary fat is not the cause of heart disease.
“I have an analogy I like to use,” says Bowden. “In the 1980s, when VCRs were introduced, there were two tape formats, VHS and Betamax. VHS won not because it was better, but the manufacturers talked a better story. Betamax has proven to be far superior. It’s the same thing with heart disease. There were two competing theories: one said a low-fat diet was the answer, while another said sugar caused heart disease. The fat theory won. The wrong team prevailed.”
Going against common government guidelines and even the American Heart Association, Bowden explains that sugar causes inflammation, which damages artery walls and leads to plaque ruptures and cardiac arrest.
“We are not the first to say it,” he says. “John Yudkin [the British doctor who led that ‘losing team’ and wrote ‘Pure, White and Deadly,’] had all the data in the 1970s. Right now, I’m reading ‘Fat Chance’ by Dr. Robert Lustig. It’s comforting — it’s like ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ Everyone is saying ‘Oh, what nice clothes,’ and we’re standing there yelling: ‘But he’s naked!’”
Don’t use this as a free-for-all
The sugar theory blows apart decades of cholesterol testing and treatments to lower cholesterol, but it doesn’t mean you can gorge on high-fat foods, which are high in calories.
“You want to achieve the middle ground,” Bowden emphasizes, “neither high or low cholesterol, which in itself can be dangerous. Avoid trans-fats. Cook with lard, not Crisco. Use delicious butter and eat grass fed beef. The factory-farmed meat is completely different to real, healthy meat.”