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Low-fat high carb diets raise risk of heart disease: Eat fat to lose fat

Should you indulge in Wheat Thins?
Should you indulge in Wheat Thins?
Photo by Michael Loccisano

Remember that "healthy" breakfast of orange juice and cereal that many of us grew up eating? The latest studies show that the combination of refined carbohydrates and sugar in that meal raise our risk of heart disease more than the bacon and eggs were told to avoid, said Dr. Richard Gunderman, chancellor's professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine on Friday. And he cited new evidence showing that high fat diets are the answer to weight loss.

However, because of the traditional food pyramid prescription of whole grains and avoidance of fat, as a nation we have increased our consumption of carbohydrates by 25 percent during the past three decades. And that's the danger, says Gunderman.

Nutrition scientists have discovered that replacing saturated fats with refined carbohydrates results in a surge in blood sugar levels. As a result, we increase our risk of heart attack.

"Though fat has more calories per gram than either protein or carbohydrate, it appears to facilitate weight loss. When groups of obese people were fed diets high in carbohydrates, protein, and fat, the group on the high-fat diet lost the most weight," he noted, echoing the message that has spread across the nation with the publication of the acclaimed "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet."

In that book, journalist and science researcher Nina Teicholz details precisely how our national Standard American Diet (SAD) became a prescription for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. Instead, she reveals, the weight of evidence for what really works for health and weight loss belongs in the court of high fat low carb diets.

Dr. Eric Westman, head of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, believes in the benefits of high fat low carb ketogenic diets as well. "In fact, saturated fat, the fat that we've been taught not to eat, raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat," he declared.

As a result, Dr. Westman has become a vocal proponent of the Atkins diet. He co-authored "New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great."

In addition, Dr. Westman has teamed up with Jimmy Moore, who lost 180 pounds on a high fat low carb ketogenic diet, to create a book correcting the myth that eating saturated fat raises bad cholesterol. It's entitled "Cholesterol Clarity: What The HDL Is Wrong With My Numbers."

In an exclusive interview on Friday, Jimmy told me that "saturated fat is arguably the healthiest part of the human diet that people are quite literally scared to death to eat. Some people actually believe they will have a heart attack within moments of consuming a food like butter or meat, but this is not based on any solid scientific evidence."

Jimmy and Dr. Westman have a soon-to-be released book called "Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet." He noted that they devote part of their book to the truth about fats.

"We dedicate an entire chapter on the subject of fat explaining that it's the missing key to optimizing health because it controls hunger, cravings, and provides so many health benefits by improving the production of ketone bodies that is the preferred fuel source for the body," said Jimmy.

The increase in research supporting that statement has exploded in recent years. Gunderman cites two studies as evidence that saturated fat is not the problem in our national epidemic of obesity. The earlier study in 2010 reviewed 21 studies and showed no proof that heart disease is linked to saturated fat consumption. Another study this year evaluated more than 600,000 participants and also indicated no proof that eating a low-fat diet protects your heart.

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