Why Dietary Guidelines Are Changing: Full Fat is Back

February 27, 2017

Why Dietary Guidelines Are Changing: Full Fat is Back

When President Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack in 1955, it changed the way science looked at nutrition. Experts determined that fat was a major obstacle to cardiac health. This hypothesis pointed the finger at fat and meat as the probable cause of heart attacks like the one Eisenhower suffered that day. Since that time, cardiovascular disease and fat have been linked together, especially after clinical research provided evidence that a low–fat, high-carb diet lowers the risk of heart issues.

Researchers called cardiovascular disease an epidemic that centered specifically on the amount of fat and cholesterol people ate. They failed to take into account that there was an increase in diagnosis because doctors had better research and testing available to them. Today, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but our understanding of nutrition is better than it was in 1955.

What Causes Heart Disease?

Heart disease is an umbrella term for a number of cardiovascular-related conditions including:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Arrhythmias
  • Congenital Defects

 

Generally speaking, heart disease refers to the blockage of blood vessels that lead to the heart, known medically as atherosclerotic disease. The buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries around the heart causes the walls of the vessels to thicken and get stiff. The lack of elasticity combined with the narrowing from plaque deposits on the artery walls inhibits blood flow to the heart causing damage to the muscle. The symptoms of heart disease depend on the cause of the problem, but, usually, involve:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness or pain in the legs or arms
  • Pain in the neck, throat, jaw or back

 

Not all heart disease involves blocked arteries, though cardiovascular problems can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, as well. Arrhythmias are directly linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, drug use or stress.

New Dietary Guidelines for Heart Health

In 2015, a nutrition advisory panel reviewed recommended dietary guidelines to see what people should be eating and what they should avoid. The determination was that the initial thoughts on fat were misguided. After all, restricting fat in the 1950s did little to control the rising rates of obesity and the increase in heart disease. The panelists questioned the assumed link between saturated fat and heart problems.

A 2016 study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine closed the door on 30 years of misinformation by determining that fat wasn’t really the bad guy. Researchers determined that sugar had a must stronger link to heart disease than saturated fat.

What are Healthy Fats?

The new guidelines state that you don’t need to cut fat out of your diet completely. Studies have found that low-to-no fat diets don’t really decrease your risk of heart disease. Now they know that fat is an essential macronutrient, one that helps support key body functions. The new approach allows for a certain amount of fat daily, but it still is clear that not all fats are created equally.

Ideally, you should focus on getting fat from fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Stay away from processed foods because they contain high amounts of sugar, salt and chemicals. The current dietary guidelines recommend adults get 20 to 35 percent of their calories from fats.

What About Cholesterol?

The thinking has changed about cholesterol, too. It was once believed that eating foods rich in cholesterol would raise blood cholesterol levels, putting you at risk for heart disease. The current recommendations provide for about 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol each day. If you have a preexisting risk of heart disease like high blood pressure or a family history of cardiac conditions that number drops to 200 milligrams.

Lifestyle changes are your best option if you want to keep your heart healthy – this would include cutting sugar out of your diet, especially sodas and other types of sugary drinks. The focus is no longer on fat or cholesterol, but on eating sensibly to stay healthy throughout your life.

The post Why Dietary Guidelines Are Changing: Full Fat is Back appeared first on Natren Probiotics Blog.




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