"Another Heart Smart Diet"

A recent study released this past month comparing the diet recommended by The American Heart Association and a Mediterranean diet reported these results. Patients using the American Heart Association diet had increased incidence of first heart attack, repeat heart attacks and more deaths than the Mediterranean diet.

The interesting implications and the applications of diet go far beyond just reversing heart disease. Want to feel and look youngerŠ have more energy than you did ten years agoŠ think more clearly? Change your diet. The same high fat diet that clogs arteries and causes coronary artery disease is causing other problems throughout the body. The organs of digestion and detoxification­­ namely the stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys and skin­­ are all stressed with high fat diets.

Fat is the most chemically difficult food for the body to take apart. When we utilize a high fat diet and use fats that are of poor quality not only does this utilize tremendous amounts of energy, fats of poor quality can cause free radical damage throughout.

Let's look at some of the differences between these two diets and why the Mediterranean diet got higher marks. There are several areas where these two diets differ but the main differences are meat and choice of fats. The diet recommended by The American Heart Association uses meat and fats that are different from the Mediterranean diet. Fats in the AHA diet include margarine, corn and soy oils and other oils. The Mediterranean diet uses olive oil almost exclusively and uses very little, if any, meat. There are also more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet.

Why a plant-based diet? Cholesterol­­ when it is high­­ is the culprit in much of the heart related diseases. It is found only in animal products­­ which also tend to be high in saturated fat. Your body converts saturated fat to cholesterol. There is no cholesterol in a plant-based diet and, with few exceptions, a plant-based diet is low in both total fat and in saturated fat. So regardless of whether you skin the chicken or eat cuts of meat that have the fat trimmed away you are still getting a dose of saturated fat.

A meat-based diet is high in iron, which is an oxidant­­ that is, it oxidizes cholesterol to a form that makes it more likely to clog up your arteries. Iron also may cause the formation of free radicals that promote cancer and aging. Also meat contains virtually no dietary fiber.

In contrast, a plant-based diet is low in oxidants like iron and high in anti-oxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and E, and is high in fiber. Fiber helps speed metabolism and keeps fats from accumulating where they shouldn't.

The other issue here is the use of fats. Olive oil, being a monosaccharide ( mono meaning single) has a very simple chemical structure; therefore it is easy for the body to utilize. In comparison to other kinds of fats that have polysaccharide structures which are more difficult for the body to use. We need a source of fat in our diet. Olive oil is your best choice. You can also clarify butter which takes the heavy fat off leaving an oil that is pleasant tasting and good for the body in small amounts.

Many individuals are unwilling to discontinue the use of meats. If this is the case, try reducing animal products to no more than two or three times weekly. With this change alone you will see an increase in the energy you have. Remember, though, whether or not you choose to change your diet and lifestyle and to what degree, is entirely up to you. No shame, no guilt, no pressure!

Till next time, Rebecca.

Posted to Zephyr Online July 17, 1998
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