By preventing the buildup of cholesterol in our blood stream, we can prevent atherosclerosis in our coronary arteries, the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. This involves increasing our intake of fiber-containing plant foods and decreasing our intake of trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol found in junk food and animal products.
Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease,
Image thanks to Evan Amos via Wikimedia Commons.
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, eggs, #2 trans fat, found mostly in processed junk and animal products, and #3, the consumption of cholesterol itself from—meat, dairy, and, especially eggs.
Eleveated LDL cholesterol levels is 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 saturated fat and cholesterol, in general, all whole plant foods tend lower our risk of dying from our number one killer, and 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 1 to 3 years 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 putting kids on white flour instead of whole wheat.
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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More details on lowering cholesterol through diet can be found in Dried Apples Versus Cholesterol, Amla Versus Diabetes, New Cholesterol Fighters, and Eliminating the #1 Cause of Death. For more on the benefits of fiber, see Food Mass Transit and for more on what foods to avoid, see Egg Cholesterol in the Diet and Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero. For more on the dangers of animal fat, see Largest Study Ever. On the contrary, high-fat plant foods may not have the same effect (see, for example, Plant-Based Atkins Diet. In the next video I will cover how to block the second step of heart disease in Making Our Arteries Less Sticky. Aside from heart health, there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.
Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: The Most Anti-Inflammatory Mushroom, How Does Meat Cause Inflammation?, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, The Anti-Wrinkle Diet, and Plant-Based Diets for Rheumatoid Arthritis