This post was originally published on July 28, 2015 and updated on May 5, 2020.
Mom was right about many things: She may have told you to brush your teeth to prevent cavities and to leave the dog alone when he’s eating. But mom also passed on some tall tales, such as don’t swim for 30 minutes after you eat and that saturated fat causes heart disease. If you’re trying to instill heart-healthy eating habits in your children, we’ve compiled a list of truths that may surprise you. The latest research, still causing shock waves across continents, reveals that what your mom (and doctor) may have told you about heart health was never based on scientifically proven facts.
Truths about heart health
- Trans fats DO increase the risk of cardiovascular disease: There’s a very good reason partially hydrogenated oils are being phased out of the human food supply. Trans fats, the by-product of this industrially created fat, increases your LDL level which contributes to plaque formation in your arteries. It’s getting easier to avoid trans fats, if you pay attention.
- Saturated fats DO NOT increase your risk of heart disease: Your mom told you to limit your butter and egg consumption based on 1950s and 1960s research that is now considered outdated and flawed. Healthy saturated fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts and Malaysian sustainable palm oil can be enjoyed in moderation.
- You don’t need to obsess about dietary cholesterol: Low-cholesterol and low-fat diets were a major trend, but we now know that eating high-cholesterol foods doesn’t necessary raise the cholesterol levels in your body. Further, our low-fat obsession appears to have had no impact on heart disease rates. Jonny Bowden, author of The Great Cholesterol Myth, says: “Everything that we have been told about saturated fat and cholesterol is a bold-faced lie.” Even the FDA no longer considers cholesterol a “nutrient of concern” because there is no evidence that it causes heart disease.
- A heart-healthy diet involves limiting processed carbohydrates and added sugars: Breads, pastas and many of our other favorite carb-filled low-fat foods aren’t doing our hearts any favors. Our body converts them to sugar which causes dangerous inflammation.
Soon the FDA will be updating the Nutrition Facts label on our food products requiring manufacturers to disclose sugars added during processing. They’ll also be removing the “Calories from Fat” listing. This will help our kids learn the truth about healthy eating.
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