2.02 What are the Parts of a Heart Healthy Diet?
A heart healthy diet is one that gets you all the macronutrients and micronutrients that you need while avoiding any harmful exposure to things in your diet that cause damage or inflammation such as cholesterol and saturated fats. A high fiber, low cholesterol (ideally zero) diet is the key.
Fiber comes as a natural part of every fruit, vegetable, bean, grain, nut and seed. There is ZERO fiber in any meat, seafood, egg or dairy product.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance or “lipid” that is made by animals. Cholesterol will be high in any meat, seafood, egg and dairy product. There is ZERO cholesterol in any fruit, vegetable, bean, grain, nut and seed.
Cholesterol is NOT an essential nutrient. You do NOT need to eat any to survive. There is no such thing as a dietary cholesterol deficiency and any that you get from your diet will simply have the potential to deposit in the arteries increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. All the cholesterol that your body needs to function is produced in the liver by an enzyme called “HMG CoA Reductase.” This enzyme is the target of statin drugs. These medications block this enzyme from making cholesterol.
Don’t get a false sense of security if you take a statin drug. Did you know that 40 million Americans currently take statin drugs, yet heart disease is still the #1 cause of death in the U.S.? Did you know that more than half of heart attacks occur in patients with normal cholesterol levels? Obviously, statin drugs are not the cure for heart disease. Being on a statin drug does not mean that you can eat all the cholesterol that you want. Diets high in cholesterol and saturated fats will dramatically increase heart disease risk and the ONLY diet that has ever been shown to reverse heart disease is cholesterol free and very low in saturated fat (overall about 10% of calories from fat).
This makes sense. If cholesterol is bad for you, then why eat any at all? Smoking cigarettes is bad for you…they do not say it is OK to smoke a small amount, they say to not smoke any at all! Should we eliminate all cholesterol from our diet to be heart healthy? The answer is absolutely yes!