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Benefits of High-Saturated Fat Diets In Heart Patients (Part IV)

Posted Jun 24 2009 11:45am
Few studies review the benefits of high-saturated fat diets in actual heart disease patients. Perhaps, researchers worry about... M A L P R A C T I C E . . . ?

Like urban myths, do such studies exist?

Indeed studies of high saturated fat diets in heart disease patients IN FACT do EXIST. la la... I feel on top of the world... ( LMFAO )

The diagram exemplifies a normal coronary artery, with a large.. wide diameter... spacious... flexible.. lumen (Courtesy: ). The diameter of the artery can be measured accurately down to fractions of a millimeter via angiography.

It was observed that in post-menopausal women with documented heart disease from the Estrogen Replacement and Atherosclerosis (ERA) trial, a multicenter clinical trial evaluating the effects of hormone replacement therapy on atherosclerotic progression, in the group consuming the highest-saturated dietary fat diet (12.0% Sat Fat), an enlargement in coronary diameter of 0.01 mm and a 0.1% regression in coronary artery stenosis.

Quoted to Men's Health, "In the nutrition field, it's very difficult to get something published that goes against established dogma," said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian MD MPH, assistant professor, Harvard. "The dogma says that saturated fat is harmful, but that is not based, to me, on unequivocal evidence." Mozaffarian says he believes it's critical that scientists remain open minded. "Our finding was surprising to us. And when there's a discovery that goes against what's established, it shouldn't be suppressed but rather disseminated and explored as much as possible."

In a year during my pharmacy student training at Stanford, I worked with Dariush on an internal med rotation for 4wks. I think I learned more about drugs and how to use them than some of my preceptors combined. His teaching approaches were usually articulate, concise and patiently provided. Gosh, can I say, I've had serendipity with many mentors in my little drug journey so far. *haa*

Dividing the saturated fat intake into quartiles, the individuals at the highest quartile (dietary saturated fat intake: 12.0%) demonstrated the least progression on angiogram of coronary diameter. In fact, this was the only group that exhibited REGRESSION.

This group was also characterized as having the:
--least medications, including lipid-lowering medications
--the least medications and the higher the saturated fat, the more coronary artery widening in coronary artery diameter
--highest LDL (low density lipoprotein) measurements
--highest HDL (high density lipoprotein 'good cholesterol)
--lowest Trigs
--highest dietary fat intake
--highest monounsaturated fat intake
--lowest dietary carbohydrate intake (47.1% v. (!!)69%)

Improved Anti-Atherogenic Lipoproteins
"A higher saturated fat intake was associated with a more favorable lipoprotein profile, including higher HDL,HDL2, and HDL3 cholesterol; higher apoprotein A-I; lower triacylglycerolc oncentrations; and a lower ratio of total cholesterol(TC) to HDL cholesterol (TC:HDL cholesterol). Women who consumed more saturated fat consumed less carbohydrate and dietary fiber and more total fat, protein, cholesterol, polyunsaturated fat, trans fatty acids, and monounsaturated fat."

Lipid-Lowering Drugs: The Less, The More Regression
The researchers astutely noticed that "among the women not taking lipid-lowering medication at baseline or during follow-up, there was 0.22 mm less progression for each 5% greater energy intake from saturated fat, compared with 0.09 mm less progression for each 5% greater energy intake from saturated fat among women taking lipid-lowering medication (P = for interaction 0.008)."

Omega-6 PUFAs and Dietary Carbs: Highly Associated with Progression
After the Lyon-Diet Heart trial was completed and showed a dramatic reduction in all-cause mortality, cardiac death and events with simple reductions in omega-6 PUFAs and increase omega-3 from fish and ALA sources like olive oil, I think this trial hits it home again that any increase in dietary PUFAs are extremely pro-inflammatory leading to progression of coronary artery diameter reductions. The lowest quartile consumed less than 3.9% PUFA which was positively (see above) associated with a decrease in average minimal coronary artery diameter (P for trend =0.04). The authors also found "Carbohydrate intake (see below) was strongly positively associated with progression, with a 19-mmgreater decline in mean minimal coronary artery diameter in a comparisonof extreme quartiles of intake (P for trend = 0.001)."

FIGURE 1 (divided, above, below). Mean (SE) change in minimal coronary artery diameter according to intake of different nutrients, with adjustments as in Table 2 (see footnote 1), except that total fat was not adjusted for carbohydrate, and carbohydrate and protein were also adjusted for polyunsaturated fat. These models estimate the effect of saturated fat replacing other fats (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated),monounsaturated fat replacing other fats (saturated or polyunsaturated), polyunsaturated fat replacing other fats (saturated or monounsaturated), total fat replacing carbohydrate, carbohydrate replacing saturated or monounsaturated fat, and protein replacingsaturated or monounsaturated fat.

Median intakes(% of energy) for quartiles 1–4 were as follows:
saturated fat*** (6.1, 7.8, 9.5, and 12.0),
monounsaturated fat (6.9, 8.6, 10.7, and 13.0),
polyunsaturated fat** (3.9, 5.2, 6.1, and 7.5),

total fat (17.6, 21.7, 27.0, and 31.9),
carbohydrate* (47.1, 55.6, 60.5, and 68.9)
protein (12.7, 15.8, 18.0, and 21.2).

P for trend = 0.001 (**saturated fat), 0.40(monounsaturated fat), 0.04 (**polyunsaturated fat), 0.48 (total fat), 0.20 (protein), and 0.001 (*carbohydrate).

The design of this particular study was novel in examining multiple dietary components against a validated heart disease marker for progression. Obviously, prospective RCTs utilizing high-saturated fat, low carb, low PUFA diets would constitute the best scenarios to show unequivocal heart disease reversal. Am I going to hold my breath?

R e g r e s s i o n
With a high-saturated fat diet in documented heart disease patients... coronary artery stenosis regression occurred shockingly in individuals who took less lipid-lower drugs, smoked more, and basically were hedonistic beyond a conventional cardiologist's belief. Should we live life a little dangerously... disobey the 'rules'?
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