Adapted from the revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life, now available!
There are literally hundreds of respected scientific studies that demonstrate that as animal products increase in a population's diet, cholesterol levels soar and the occurrence of heart disease increases proportionally with the increase in animal product intake.1 Saturated fat is the element of the modern diet that shows the most powerful association in these medical research studies with high cholesterol and premature death from heart attacks.2
Though saturated fat is the most heart-disease-promoting substance in animal products, it is not merely saturated fat and cholesterol in animal products that is the problem. Animal protein raises cholesterol too. Those who cut out red meat and instead eat plenty of chicken and fish do not see substantial changes in their cholesterol levels or a profound reduction in cardiac events.3
If you are looking for maximum protection from heart disease, your diet must receive 90 to 100 percent of its calories from unrefined plant foods. If you choose to include a small amount of animal products in your diet, white meat chicken and white meat turkey are better choices, but if you have more than one or two servings a week, you are not going to see optimal results. One serving of a non-polluted fish a week, and one serving of white meat fowl is the maximum amount of animal products permitted. Any more than that will prevent the huge drop in cholesterol level and heart disease risk observed from eating a plant-based diet style.
Books touting the benefits of high-protein diets for weight-loss are very popular because they appeal to the many Americans who are looking to maintain their addiction to high-fat, nutrient-inadequate, animal foods. These consumers form a huge market for such topsy-turvy, scientific-sounding quackery. All animal products are severely deficient in fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants--and contain too much saturated fat, cholesterol, and arachadonic acid.
As animal product consumption goes up in a country or population, so does heart attacks; as animal product utilization goes down, so does heart attacks. One cannot prevent or reverse heart disease while one continues to consume significant amounts of animal foods.
IT IS BOTH THE HIGH CONSUMPTION OF REFINED FOODS AND THE HIGH CONSUMPTION OF ANIMAL FOODS THAT RESULT IN SERIOUS DISEASES IN AMERICA AND OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES.
In some countries, such as Mozambique, the Fiji Islands, and Guatemala, where few refined foods are eaten and animal products account for less than 10% of the calories consumed, their populations are virtually free from heart disease.
Guidelines to lower your cholesterol naturally that can save your life
Restrict or eliminate animal products: A few ounces of white meat turkey, once a week and a small piece of fish once a week is the maximum one should consume if seriously looking for cardiac reversal or protection and only these animal products, low in saturated fat should be eaten. If eating animal products, only eat 4-6 ounces of white meat turkey or white meat chicken per week, using them as a condiment in soups or a vegetable dish or sandwich. Low mercury fish such as tilapia, flounder, sole or scrod are also permitted in the range of 4-8 ounces per week. Non-fat dairy or an egg white omelet may also be consumed once per week.
Eliminate all processed grains and sweeteners: No white flour, white rice, processed breakfast cereals, sugar or other sweeteners. Instead, use one serving of whole grains daily such as brown rice, millet amaranth, oats, and barley. If using pasta occasionally, use whole wheat, bean or lentil pasta, not white flour pasta.
Do not use oil: Instead, use nuts and avocado to flavor dressings and sauces. Oil is a high calorie food, with the vast majority of nutrients lost. In comparison, the use of raw nuts and seeds such as flax, walnuts, and sunflower seeds have shown remarkable protective effects for both heart disease and cancer. When you consume your fat in nature's protective package, (nuts and seeds) in place of extracted oils, you get the lignins and flavonoids and other valuable nutrients that support excellent health.
For example, flax seed oil is also oil and just like other oils it contains 120 calories per tablespoon. Ground flax seeds contain lignans, flavonoids beneficial fibers, sterols and a host of other beneficial substances and only has 30 calories per tablespoon. Eat the food not the extracted oil. Excessive amounts of oil are not favorable. Even too much of the benefical oil in flax is linked to higher rates of prostate cancer.4
1. Menotti A, Kromhout D, Blackburn H, et al. Food intake patterns and 25-year mortality from coronary heart disease: cross-cultural correlations in the Seven Countries Study. The Seven Countries Study Research Group. Eur J Epidemiol 1999 Jul;15(6):507-515.
2. Kromhout D, Menotti A, Bloemberg B, et al. Dietary saturated and trans fatty acids and cholesterol and 25-year mortality form coronary heart disease; the Seven Countries Study. Prev Med 1995;24(3):308-315. Oomen CM, Ocke MC, Feskens EJ, et al. Association between trans fatty acid intake and 10-year risk of coronary heart disease in the Zutphen Elderly study: a prospective population-based study. Lancet 2001;357(9258):746-751. Lemaitre RN, King IB, Raghunathan TE, et al. Cell membrane trans-fatty acids and the risk of primary cardiac arrest. Circulation 2002;105(6):697-701. Kromhout D. Diet and cardiovascular diseases J Nutr Health Aging 2001;5(3):144-149. Hu FB, Manson JE, Willett WC. Types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr 2001;20(1):5-19. Lichtenstein AH, Van Horn L. Very low fat diets. Circulation 1998;98(9):935-939.
3. Tang JL, Armitage JM, Lancaster T, et al. Systematic review of dietary intervention trials to lower blood total cholesterol in free-living subjects. BMJ 1998 Apr 18;316(7139):1213-1220.
4. Brouwer IA, Katan MB, Zock PL, et al. Dietary alpha-linolenic acid is associated with reduced risk of fatal coronary heart disease, but increased prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis. J Nutr 2004 Apr;134(4):919-922.