A grim fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the main cause of mortality in the United States. The good news is that it can be mainly avoided. According to the American Heart Association, adopting proper dietary and lifestyle practices can prevent 80% of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke.
It’s empowering, yes? Knowing the facts is crucial, and it appears that the general population has many misconceptions about heart health, particularly when it comes to diet. Let’s dispel some misconceptions and provide the truth, shall we? The one thing you do today that can genuinely save your life is learning the truth.
Myth 1: A low-fat diet is best for heart health.
Even if we don’t quite live in the 1990s when “reduced fat” was put on the packaging of everything from frozen yogurt to cookies (anyone remember SnackWell’s?) Many individuals continue to hold the misconception that all fat is harmful to heart health, according to Dr. Steven Masley, a doctor, clinical professor at the University of South Florida, and author of “The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up,” who was speaking to HuffPost. He noted that while trans and hydrogenated fats, which are frequently found in overly processed foods, should be minimized or avoided, unsaturated fats are really good for heart health.
Studies have shown that eating a diet high in unsaturated fats can reduce the risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats are present in foods, including fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
Myth 2: Eggs are bad for your heart.
Many of Masley’s patients avoid eggs because they think eggs elevate cholesterol, according to Masley, a nutritionist. But they really don’t have much of an impact on cholesterol, he added.
Eating one egg per day was not associated with an increased risk of heart disease, according to two sizable trials (including about 40,000 men and 80,000 women, respectively). Despite eating more eggs than Americans do, a different scientific study that analyzed the diets of individuals in Japan and the U.S. discovered that those in Japan have a lower risk of coronary artery disease.
What led to eggs’ negative reputation? Here’s where the misunderstanding probably originated: Yes, eggs contain a lot of cholesterol. But it turns out that dietary cholesterol only little affects blood cholesterol. What therefore causes cholesterol to rise? Masley and scientific studies both agree that diets high in saturated fat are the main offender. This includes fried foods, butter, dairy products, sausage, bacon, and other fatty meats but excludes eggs.
Myth 3: Red meat should be avoided at all costs.
Red meat itself may not be as detrimental to your heart health as the items you eat with it if consumed in moderation. The results aren’t as dramatic as you may assume, even though many studies have linked red meat consumption to an increased risk of heart disease and mortality. According to a 2020 study from Cornell University and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, consuming two 3.5-ounce meals of red meat per week was associated with a 3%-7% increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a 3% increased risk of death.
On the other hand, a scientific study that was released in 2019 found no evidence of a connection between red meat and heart health. The paper, which incorporated data from 14 academics across seven nations, was put together over the course of three years. The authors of the report examined scientific studies that looked at how eating red meat affected cancer and heart health. This comprised 73 publications and 61 studies that followed a total of more than 4 million individuals. In the end, they concluded that the evidence was weak. The researchers discovered a low to very low correlation between red meat and sickness in each of the studies they examined.