There is now strong evidence that carbohydrates are the baddies in the war against obesity, heart disease and diabetes. So where does this leave the well established theory about saturated fat and how it not only increases our weight but is also responsible for heart disease. In a nutshell research is now telling us to do the opposite to what we have been told to do in the past, to keep healthy. You only have to look around you to see that eating the way we have been doing for the last 30 years has had devastating effects upon our health and the prevalence of diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Saturated fat was once blamed for heart, cholesterol and obesity problems and we were encouraged to eat more carbohydrates (e.g. bread, cereals, ) But now multiple studies are revealing that this was all wrong!!. One such 2010 study reviewed the evidence around this subject (Astrup, A. et al, Am J Clin Nutr:2011 Jan 26) and found that “replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), and may even increase the risk”. (Dairy Nutrition News April 2011)
The risk of coronary heart disease does however increase with the intake of trans fatty acids. Trans fats are found in margarines. They have been made by a heating process that changes the chemical structure of the fat to make it solid but soft. As noted in a previous blog, trans fats are commonly found in commercially produced products especially bakery items.
As well as containing damaging trans fats processed products such as breads, cereals, pastries, pasta etc. have other health related issues. Because these foods are nutrient poor a person consuming these foods on a regular basis is likely to be deficient of the important antioxidants. We know that these antoxidants are important for overall health, but they are also significant in the fight against heart disease. This is because it is not the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol that is the problem, but the oxidation of the LDL cholesterol.
As evidence comes to light about the effects of oxidized LDL, we will no doubt see the large producers of products such as bread, muesli bars and cereals, attempt to change their image and their ingredients to ensure the continuing sales of their products. As it takes many years for research findings to become common knowledge, this is probably a few years away however.
Some companies are obviously using the head in the sand approach hoping that this new research and change in public thinking will just go away. Other companies are doing their best to maintain their sales by adding certain things to their products, which might be perceived by the public as therefore “a healthier food choice”.
With the increased evidence surrounding the positive health effects of a lower carbohydrate diet, that has adequate protein and fats, new products are emerging. An example of this is new cereals that are coming out with added protein. Of course the amount of protein in any cereal is woefully inadequate and any cereal based products will still remain predominantly carbohydrate. You would be far better off eating a few eggs for breakfast. A cereal with a few goodies added looks good to those people who are addicted to a carbohydrate fix first thing in the morning or those who still can’t completely disbelieve the old diet pyramid.
For more help with maintaining a healthy weight, preventing and treating heart disease, diabetes and other carbohydate related disorders (insulin resistance, PCO’s) go to How to Stop Metabolic Syndrome, Naturally.