Disease Proof

Keep a Tight Limit on Saturated Fat

Just as eating the high salt content in the Standard American Diet will almost certainly cause you to develop high blood pressure, the high saturated fat content in that diet will eventually cause high levels of blood cholesterol, which can then be deposited in plaque on blood vessels. This leads to cardiovascular disease and also depresses the immune system and increases the risk of cancer.1 Autopsy studies on adult Americans who die in car accidents, unrelated to heart conditions, demonstrate that heart disease is present in the vast majority of American adults. Almost all people over the age of 40 are found to have a significant amount of atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries.2 The bottom line is if you eat the Standard American Diet or something close to it, you most likely will develop the same diseases—heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, and cancer—that most Americans get. You cannot escape from the biological law of cause and effect. If you eat the diet most Americans eat, you will get the diseases most Americans get. Our long-term health is determined by our food choices.

Saturated fat comes from many food sources, including processed foods, meat, cheese, and other animal products. Thousands of scientific research studies demonstrate that saturated fat promotes both heart disease and cancer and powerfully raises cholesterol.3 It is exceedingly clear that avoiding all fat is not the secret to protecting your heart. It is avoiding saturated fat, trans fat, and processed oils.4 We get heart-healthy fats in their natural, high-antioxidant environment when we eat raw seeds and nuts. Indeed, avocado, nuts, and seeds are rich in fat. They may even contain a small amount of saturated fat, but their consumption is linked to substantial protection against heart disease. But, in the American diet, fats come primarily from meat and dairy, which are saturated, and we compound the problem by the low level of food derived antioxidants and phytochemicals we ingest.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

1. Duwe AK, Fitch M, Ostwald R, et al. Depressed Natural Killer and Lecithin- Induced Cell Mediated Cytotoxicity in Cholesterol-Fed Guinea Pigs. J Nat Cancer Inst 1984;72(2):333-338.

2. Roberts JC, Moses C, Wilkins RH. Autopsy Studies in Atherosclerosis. I. Distribution and Severity of Atherosclerosis in Patients Dying without Morphologic Evidence of Atherosclerotic Catastrophe. Circulation 1959;20:511. Berenson GS, et al. Bogalusa Heart Study: A long-term community study of a rural biracial (black/white) population. Am J Med Sci 2001;322(5):267-274.

3. Huxley R, Lewington S, Clarke R. Cholesterol, coronary heart disease and stroke: a review of published evidence from observational studies and randomized controlled trials. Semin Vasc Med. 2002;2(3):315-323.

4. 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.

Image credit: VirtualErn

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
john polifronio - August 28, 2009 5:24 PM

I have suffered from angina for 17 years now. One of the most frustrating aspects of this problem stems from the apparent contradictory information heart patients receive from doctors and health researchers. We are told that the oils in avocado, nuts and seeds, are protective of heart health. But an equally large number of doctors tell us precisely the opposite, that these fruit and nut oils are dangerous and damaging to the heart. How can there be such violently different notions concerning lipids in foods insofar as they affect the development of heart disease?

greg - August 28, 2009 6:36 PM

Flame grilled to perfection. This post illustrates the classic dilemma:"We know its bad for us but we eat it anyway".

Summer BBQ's is one of the most difficult social experiences as a vegan in a toxic food culture. Not only do you abstain from meat, but often times, at a BBQ, you end up without any food at all, because the only food traditionally brought to such events is meat, encased meats, and mayonnaise smothered dishes.

A smart vegan eats before hand or better yet, brings his own veggie-kabobs.

Michael - August 29, 2009 12:44 PM


Why eat the oils from nuts, seeds and avocados when you can eat the raw nuts, seeds and avocados? Use fitday.com or some other dietary analysis program and start comparing refined foods like oil and sugar with their whole food counterparts. You will see that refined foods like oil a) are much higher in calories than their whole food counterparts and b) have almost all vitamins, minerals and fiber stripped from the product. Oils are unhealthy junk food, period. Avoid them like sugar and HFCS. Eat whole high-nutrient foods like greens, beans, fruits seeds and avocado. Just make sure to limit the quantity of high-calorie foods if you need to lose weight. Dr. Fuhrman's books focus on nutrient per calorie density and focusing on whole foods. I highly recommend "Eat To Live" or "Eat for Health".

Joel Fuhrman, MD - August 30, 2009 12:42 PM

John, sorry you are so confused. However, I disagree that there is a legitimate controversy here and equal number telling one thing or the other. The scientific literature is consistent and conclusive here. Whole seeds and nuts, not oils, are cardio-protective. Their inclusion in the diet is dramatically protective against sudden cardiac death and heart attacks. Every study done on these foods has showed dramatic benefits. You could not show one study that showed otherwise.

I instruct my heart patients that if they exclude seeds and nuts completely they will receive no advantages and be increasing their risk of sudden death from an arrhythmia. In other words, everything worsens, it is harder to lose weight, and actually impairs the potential reversal possible.

I have no heart disease patients that still suffer from angina for years, and have cared for hundreds with great success. They use my nutritional advice to reverse the condition and get well. The question here is, why are you still suffering? Please, join the member center at drfuhrman.com and read my protocols for reversing your condition in the newsletters and converse with me in the “ask the doctor” forum there. I want to help you get over this quickly.

Here are some references for you if you need more convincing:

Sabaté J. Nut consumption, vegetarian diets, ischemic heart disease risk, and all-cause mortality: evidence from epidemiologic studies. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 3, 500S-503S, September 1999.

Hu FB, Stampfer MJ. Nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a review of epidemiologic evidence. Curr Atheroscler Rep 1999 Nov;1(3):204-209.

Mukuddem-Petersen J ; Oosthuizen W ; Jerling JC A systematic review of the effects of nuts on blood lipid profiles in humans.J Nutr. 2005; 135(9):2082-9.

Lamarche B; Desroche S; Jenkins DJ; et al. Combined effects of a dietary portfolio of plant sterols, vegetable protein, viscous fiber and almonds on LDL particle size. Br J Nutr 2004:92(4):654-63.

Ros E; Naatez I; Parez-Heras A; et al. A walnut diet improves endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic subjects: a randomized crossover trial. Circulation. 2004; 109(13):1609-14.

Ellsworth JL ; Kushi LH ; Folsom AR. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women's Health Study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2001; 11(6):372-7.

Albert CM ; Gaziano JM ; Willett WC ; Manson JE Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physicians' Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 2002; 162(12):1382-7.

Coates AM ; Howe PR Edible nuts and metabolic health. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2007; 18(1):25-30.

Segura R ; Javierre C ; Lizarraga MA ; Ros E Other relevant components of nuts: phytosterols, folate and minerals.Br J Nutr. 2006; 96 Suppl 2:S36-44.

Rajaram S; Sabat AJ. Nuts, body weight and insulin resistance.Br J Nutr. 2006; 96 Suppl 2:S79-86.

Bes-Rastrollo M ; Sabat ÃJ ; Gamez-Gracia E ; et al. Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study. Obesity 2007; 15(1):107-16.

Meg­as-Rangil I ; Garc­a-Lorda P ; Torres-Moreno M ; et al. Nutrient content and health effects of nuts. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2004; 54(2 Suppl 1):83-6.

Lovejoy JC The impact of nuts on diabetes and diabetes risk.Curr Diab Rep. 2005; 5(5):379-84

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