Tuesday, June 20, 2006

AHA Does An About-Face On Fat Intake

The AHA should change their motto to "Live and Learn"

Oh this was just too priceless not to share with you.

The American Heart Association (AHA) released this list of new recommendations this week for Americans to eat healthy and prevent heart disease. There are some surprises to be found there along with a lot of the same old stuff we've always heard.

While the 2000 AHA recommendations focused more on reducing overall fat, this new one in 2006 makes no reference to reducing total fat at all as an effective means for losing weight.

Hmmm, have they finally abandoned the failed low-fat diet approach which has seemed to simply perpetuate the obesity crisis in America over the past few decades? If so, then it's about darn time, AHA! This sudden about face on this issue is proof positive that they know they were wrong in their previous recommendations and now have egg on their face about it.

What exactly is the AHA recommending and how does it stack up for people who are livin' la vida low-carb? Well, let's take a look at some of these new and improved recommendations.

1. Reduce saturated fat to 7 percent of caloric intake and trans-fats to less than 1 percent of caloric intake.

The ADA is still pushing for people to reduce their intake of saturated fat and trans-fats, which a recent study has found to be linked to weight gain and insulin resistance. But not all saturated fats are unhealthy and this blanket, across-the-board cut is neglecting the healthy benefits of saturated fats such as coconut oil.

Ironically, Regina Wilshire has noted that the ADA logo is still showing up on a whole lotta foods that are chock full of trans-fats and their infamous and highly-touted "No-Fad Diet" book also includes trans-fatty food recommendations like sausage biscuits, donuts and worse! IS THIS THE SAME ORGANIZATION TELLING US WE NEED TO LOWER OUR TRANS-FAT INTAKE?! These people are a bunch of freakin' hypocrites!

2. Choose leaner cuts of meat, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, and whole-grain, high-fiber foods.

These are pretty good recommendations, although you don't have to worry about finding "leaner cuts of meat." Animal fat you consume is one way the body is satisfied to help keep you full longer. This is a very good thing when it comes to controlling the number of calories consumed. Eating fish is a staple of any low-carb program as well as lots of fiber. But beware of falling into the whole grain craze. While they are certainly healthy for you to eat, many of them are much to high in carbohydrates to be a regular part of your diet. I found that out the hard way regarding oatmeal, which very likely contributed to my slight weight gain I experienced recently.

3. Eat a diet rich in deeply colored fruits and vegetables.

Why is the AHA being so vague? Why don't they just say, eat more strawberries, blueberries, spinach leaves, or whatever. What fruits and veggies AREN'T "rich in deep colors?" Sheeez! They're bragging on themselves for being more specific, but they keep people guessing what is healthy to eat and they have to figure it out on their own. You should still beware of the very high sugar content in most fruits as well as the starchy (translation: high-carb!) vegetables. Green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, green beans, berries of all sorts and even melon are good choices for people who are livin' la vida low-carb.

4. Minimize food and beverages with added sugar. Drink low-fat or fat-free milk.

Just like the fruits contain sugars that are not good for you, so do most juices and beverages that my be allegedly "good for you." Don't buy into the lie and think that glass of orange juice won't send your blood sugar skyward! It will and that's not healthy for anyone trying to lose weight the low-carb way. As for milk, the 2% and fat-free versions have MORE CARBS than the whole milk does! You're better off either drinking a low-carb milk like Hood or not drinking milk at all. You can get all the calcium from the cheese you eat which is naturally low-carb.

5. Choose food with little or no salt to limit consumption to less than 2,300mg daily .

I blogged about this the other day in my post about the American Medical Association (AMA). They think salt is what is raising blood pressure and making people susceptible to heart disease. But this is only true for those who are salt-sensitive. For the majority of Americans, eating too much salt is of no concern for them and it shouldn't be. This is another one of those popular health myths that has floated around for years that nobody has ever challenged. Well, consider it challenged now!

6. Check serving sizes and don’t overeat.

Certainly the suggestion to "don't overeat" is intelligent and wise advice, but let's talk about serving sizes. If the AHA really cares about the subject of portions and making them reasonable for "normal" people, then they need to urge food manufacturers to create a truth in labeling manifesto that reflects the actual portion size that someone can eat to keep their calories and carbohydrates at the appropriate level for that dish. Some of these serving sizes these days are just plain ridiculous in an effort to make them appear to have less calories, carbs and fat. It's deceptive marketing and has fooled too many people for far too long. Who looks at the serving size?! Fix this problem and the portion control thing will come into better balance.

7. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

No argument from me on this one. You MUST do it!

8. Stay away from tobacco.

Another one that goes without saying.

9. Don't eat more than 300mg dietary cholesterol.

My friend Dana Carpender in her latest book reminds people that you don't have to concern yourself over the cholesterol you consume causing you any cholesterol problems because that cholesterol is actually produced by the body. Even still, this is another one of those pesky myths that we just can't seem to avoid. Oi!

10. Drink no more than two alcoholic beverages a day.

I don't drink alcohol, but I previously blogged that you should treat it as you would anything else you eat. Count the carbs because it will go towards your total carbohydrate intake for the day. I would personally choose better carbs to consume than a beer, but that's just me. Two alcoholic beverages might be good for some and poor for others. You have to decide what's best for YOU.

11. Watch your calories and burn more than you take in.

Ah, yes, the "calories in, calories out" message. Don't you know that's all bunk now?! Most of us low-carbers don't count calories and don't need to. Since I started livin' la vida low-carb in January 2004, I have yet to add up the calories I eat each day. Sure, I keep track of the calories I burn during my workouts at the gym (average burn of 600 calories daily), but that's it. Why make people micromanage their diet so they have to look at every single calorie consumed versus every single calorie expended? Talk about a recipe for frustration and failure! Not me, buddy! I'll keep letting my calories stay in line naturally -- the low-carb way!

12. Eat less nutrient-poor foods.

Can you say DUH?!?!?! Sure, go out there and stuff your faces with all the junk food, fast food and garbage you can find! What do you expect the AHA to say. What they should be saying instead is to eat MORE nutrient-dense foods that don't contain sugar, white flour, processing and starch! Now THAT would be an excellent recommendation.

Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein from the AHA was the author of the new recommendations and was all giddy about what she came up with.

"The key message of the recommendations is to focus on long-term, permanent changes in how we eat and live," Lichtenstein stated.

Well, you're partly right, Dr. Lichtenstein (rhymes with Ben Stein!). Some of your recommendations will lead to lasting lifestyle changes, but others will not. It was a valiant effort, but still falls well short of helping people truly understand what healthy living is all about. But I am impressed by the AHA's about face on total fat intake. That was inevitable in the face of damning evidence against the low-fat diet.

All I can say is WELCOME TO THE TRUTH, ADA! Perhaps you'll come around on other issues concerning a healthy diet in due time. We've got our fingers crossed for you! Rather than "Learn and Live," perhaps you should change your motto to "Live and Learn."


Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

A few questions I have:-

1. How did they determine 7% saturated fat intake? What science is being that? If saturated fat is so bad, why no eliminate it altogether? If it's required, then why or how did they determin the optimum threshold at 7%? If I eat 8% will I develop heart disease? If I eat 6% will I get deficiencies ?

2. Why should any American listen to them if they have been wrong in the past?

6/20/2006 9:16 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

My cholesterol intake is well over 300mg a day because I've been eating a ton of eggs. Will my body produce less cholesterol in the presence of higher dietary cholesterol? Is it safe?

6/21/2006 1:02 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Saturated fat is good for you and an essential part of any healthy diet. There is no, and there never has been, any link between CHD, cancer (or any other disease for that matter) and serum cholesterol levels. Colpo's newest book, showing decades of intricate research, completely demolished that lie once and for all.

As for eggs: you can eat all the eggs you want without any health concerns. In fact eggs are nature's most perfect food. Your body will produce all the cholesterol it needs (!) to repair, grow and nourish your cells. High cholesterol is actually a good thing.

6/21/2006 4:07 AM  

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