Disassociation of Cholesterol with Heart Disease Claimed to be 'Very Dangerous'

By Petrina Smith
Monday, 28 October, 2013

A  Griffith  University  scientist  has  described  the  recent  attempts  to  disassociate  diets  high  in saturated fats and cholesterol from heart disease, as potentially ‘very dangerous’.

Professor  Ian  Hamilton-Craig  from  the  Griffith  Health  Institute’s  Heart  Foundation  refuted some  of  the  statements  from  a  recently  aired  television  show  which  featured  US  medical practitioners questioning the role saturated fats and cholesterol play in heart attacks. The  two-part  program  called  Heart  of  the  Matter  is  broadcast  in  Australia  by  ABC.  It  included interviews with practitioners including a cardiologist, a nutritionist and a  physician. All  stated  that the long-held belief that saturated fat and cholesterol  are  conducive to heart disease  is a ‘huge misconception’ and ‘100% wrong’.

“The  National  Heart  Foundation  guidelines  have  for  the  past  40  years,  provided  us  with  the evidence  and  the  medical  advice  that  lowering  intakes  of  saturated  fats  and  cholesterol  is  a powerful  way  of  reducing  our  blood  cholesterol  levels,”  says  Professor  Hamilton-Craig,  an

advocate of the low saturated fat Mediterranean diet.

“These US practitioners’ attempts to disassociate diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol from heart disease are potentially very  dangerous and should  be viewed in the context of overall diet, lifestyle and other factors. Fat and cholesterol are only part of a very complex risk scenario. By  avoiding  saturated  fats,  avoiding  sugars  and  not  over-eating,  people  will  not  only  be  doing their  cardiac  health  good,  but  also  helping  to  lower  the  rate  of  cancer,  as  shown  in  many overwhelmingly positive  studies of the Mediterranean diet such as The Lyon Heart Study and  that published in The New England Journal.

“The  Mediterranean  diet  is  based  on  fresh  vegetables,  fruit,  nuts,  lean meat, fish  and  complex carbohydrates  such  as  pasta  and  bread,  as  opposed  to  refined  carbs  like  sugars,  sweets  and desserts which are low in the Mediterranean diet,” he says.

“Australians  need to understand that the Mediterranean diet is not necessarily a low fat diet but does  involve  a  relatively  low  intake  of  saturated  fats,  which  are  derived  from  full-cream  dairy products and animal fats.   “Instead, it has a relatively high intake of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) derived mainly from extra virgin olive oil.

“Their diet also avoids sugars, with dessert often being  fresh fruit. A glass of wine a day is the average, which also provides benefits for cardiac health.”

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