Transcript: Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease
The best way to prevent a massive heart attack, to prevent atherosclerosis, is to start at step number one—blocking the buildup of cholesterol, which is a direct result of having too much LDL cholesterol in our bloodstream, which is a direct result of eating three things: (1) saturated fat, found mostly in meat, dairy, and eggs; (2) trans fat, found mostly in processed junk and animal products in the American diet; (3) the consumption of cholesterol itself, found in meat, dairy, and especially eggs.
Elevated LDL cholesterol levels are also caused, as we have seen, by the lack of consumption of fiber, found in all whole plant foods. Since we evolved to eat enormous quantities of fiber, when we don’t, our LDL ends up much higher than it’s supposed to be.
Since all plants have fiber, and all animals have saturated fat and cholesterol, in general, all whole plant foods tend to lower our risk of dying from our #1 killer, and all whole animal foods tend to raise our risk. There are, however, processed plant foods that do raise cholesterol: hydrogenated vegetable oil, for example—and processed animal foods that don’t: skim milk and egg whites.
In animal models, animal proteins alone increase cholesterol, but in people, it’s more the animal fat and cholesterol. Or at least in adults. There was a study of one- to three-year olds that found that swapping in wheat protein for milk protein dramatically lowered cholesterol, and then when they went back to milk protein, it rose back up again.
But, as the researchers admit, they couldn’t completely control for the cholesterol. The use of the milk protein casein precludes the preparation of a cholesterol-free diet. Cholesterol and animal products go hand in hand—just as it’s hard to create a plant-based diet without some fiber slipping in, even when they tried to feed kids on white flour instead of whole wheat.
Bottom line, to block that first step of heart disease, we need to eat more plants, less animals, because that means more fiber, and less saturated fat and cholesterol.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.
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