Celebrate Valentine’s Day by eating more fat

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by eating more fat

You heard me right.

In the heart friendly spirit of February I thought I’d focus on how to really take care of the the heart and cardiovascular system.  There is so much information available about heart health, much of it contradictory.  Obama has proclaimed February American Heart Month, and just in time – cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S.  Since 1963, for over 50 years, our nation has been aware of rising rates of cardiovascular disease.  And, for over 50 years doctors and special interest funded researchers have been promoting protocols that have not only not improved the state of cardiovascular health in this country, but studies show that our heart health is getting worse.  Essentially, we are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

feb 2014

Most of us are aware of the standard dietary recommendations to improve cardiovascular health – low fat, low cholesterol diet, low sodium, very little red meat with a focus on fish and poultry, along with the avoidance of the ever stigmatized saturated fats.  On top of that, some of those that suffer from cardio illnesses are put on blood thinners such as Aggrenox or Coumadin, and told to refrain from eating dark leafy green vegetables such as kale and broccoli due to their high vitamin K content, a natural blood thickener.  And, there have been recent studies documenting possibly fatal interactions between warfarin (Coumadin) and cranberry juice.

I recently read an article published in a popular publication titled ‘Heart Health – 13 Food with Cardiovascular Benefits,’ recommending canola oil, coffee, alcohol, and soy as some foods that help keep the heart healthy.  The article, sponsored by Campbell’s Healthy Request soups (soups that frequently contain iodized salt replete with decaking agents, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and high fructose corn syrup), fails to mention that canola oil, high in erucic acid and pressed from the rapeseed, was the source of the chemical warfare agent mustard gas.  The article fails to mention that coffee, drunk on a habitual basis, will eventually exhaust not only the adrenals of the individual partaking of the heavily caffeinated drink, but can also lead to heart arrhythmia.  Over time alcohol creates dehydration that can lead to hypertension, along with liver and kidney dysfunction, while soy is one of the most common allergens and creates a myriad of health problems due to its high rate of genetic modification and phytoestrogenic properties.

We have to rethink our approach.

The heart is our greatest endurance muscle.  It never takes a break, and if one lives until the age of 72, the heart will beat approximately 3 billion times.  The muscles of our body that control our endurance based activities, the slow oxidative and cardiac muscle tissues, are mainly fueled by one nutrient…..fat.  Appropriate fats are the ideal food for heart health.  And yes, I am even talking about saturated fats.  The human body needs approximately 30% saturated fat, 10% polyunsaturated fat, and 60% monounsaturated fat.  These percentages are guidelines based on averages; they are not hard and steady rules for each individual.  The places to find these fats are in high quality cold pressed fish oils and seafood, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, evening primrose and sesame oils.  Coconut oil, pastured butter and eggs, high quality raw or non-homogenized dairy, and high quality grass fed animal fats and meat are also on the list.

The cardiovascular disaster in the U.S. is not caused by lack of eating fat….it is caused by eating the wrong types of fat, along with a high annual intake of sugar and sugar metabolizing foods (200 lbs. per year, per person).  If we begin to focus more on incorporating the correct fats into the diet, we will see a difference in our heart health.  Of course there are myriad of other wonderful foods that support the heart – berries, apples, seaweeds and sashimi, non-iodized pink or gray sea salt, and even a very tiny amount of chocolate (roasted, not raw) will help to support our tickers.  Yet focusing on healthy fats is the solution that will ultimately heal our hearts.  Happy Valentine’s Day!