Written by Kenda Roberstson and Steve Moreau
Heart Disease on the Rise: Is the Prudent Diet of any Help?
There are reasons heart disease in the U.S. has increased dramatically in the last 50 years, and you may be surprised to find that they are not related to the consumption of saturated fat or your blood cholesterol levels.
In the early 1900s, heart disease was practically unheard of. By 1950, coronary heart disease, especially fatal clots that caused myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attacks, was the leading cause of death in the U.S., causing more than 30 percent of all deaths. By 1960, there were at least 500,000 heart disease deaths a year in the U.S. As of 2005 roughly one in five deaths was due to heart disease.
Why the increase?
Americans are living longer giving them more time to develop the disease, have more sedentary lifestyles, and are feeling the effects of years of cigarette smoking, but diet is the main contributing factor.
Back in the 1950s, we gave up our “natural” diets and started eating the way that food conglomerates, the American Heart Association and the government told us we should. Instead of using butter, lard and coconut oil for cooking, we ate the recommended vegetable oils, which contain heart-harming trans fats.
Americans were advised to follow the “Prudent Diet,” in which corn oil, margarine, chicken and cold cereal replaced butter, lard, beef and eggs. (The diet was based on the lipid hypothesis, which states: “saturated fat and cholesterol from animal sources raise cholesterol levels in the blood, leading to deposition of cholesterol and fatty material as pathogenic plaques in the arteries.”)
When asked to support the diet, Dr. Dudley White refused, saying: “Back in the MI-free days before 1920, the fats were butter and lard and I think that we would all benefit from the kind of diet that we had at a time when no one had ever heard the word corn oil.”
To decrease your risk of heart disease, include grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, organic eggs and produce, and raw dairy in your diet.