This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.
Just as eating the high salt content in the Standard American Diet will almost certainly cause you to develop high blood pressure, the high saturated fat content in that diet will eventually cause high levels of blood cholesterol, which can then be deposited in plaque on blood vessels. This leads to cardiovascular disease and also depresses the immune system and increases the risk of cancer.1 Autopsy studies on adult Americans who die in car accidents, unrelated to heart conditions, demonstrate that heart disease is present in the vast majority of American adults. Almost all people over the age of 40 are found to have a significant amount of atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries.2 The bottom line is if you eat the Standard American Diet or something close to it, you most likely will develop the same diseases—heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, and cancer—that most Americans get. You cannot escape from the biological law of cause and effect. If you eat the diet most Americans eat, you will get the diseases most Americans get. Our long-term health is determined by our food choices.
Saturated fat comes from many food sources, including processed foods, meat, cheese, and other animal products. Thousands of scientific research studies demonstrate that saturated fat promotes both heart disease and cancer and powerfully raises cholesterol.3 It is exceedingly clear that avoiding all fat is not the secret to protecting your heart. It is avoiding saturated fat, trans fat, and processed oils.4 We get heart-healthy fats in their natural, high-antioxidant environment when we eat raw seeds and nuts. Indeed, avocado, nuts, and seeds are rich in fat. They may even contain a small amount of saturated fat, but their consumption is linked to substantial protection against heart disease. But, in the American diet, fats come primarily from meat and dairy, which are saturated, and we compound the problem by the low level of food derived antioxidants and phytochemicals we ingest.
1. Duwe AK, Fitch M, Ostwald R, et al. Depressed Natural Killer and Lecithin- Induced Cell Mediated Cytotoxicity in Cholesterol-Fed Guinea Pigs. J Nat Cancer Inst 1984;72(2):333-338.
2. Roberts JC, Moses C, Wilkins RH. Autopsy Studies in Atherosclerosis. I. Distribution and Severity of Atherosclerosis in Patients Dying without Morphologic Evidence of Atherosclerotic Catastrophe. Circulation 1959;20:511. Berenson GS, et al. Bogalusa Heart Study: A long-term community study of a rural biracial (black/white) population. Am J Med Sci 2001;322(5):267-274.
3. Huxley R, Lewington S, Clarke R. Cholesterol, coronary heart disease and stroke: a review of published evidence from observational studies and randomized controlled trials. Semin Vasc Med. 2002;2(3):315-323.
4. Hu FB, Manson JE, Willett WC. Types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001;20(1):5-19.