Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease

Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease
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By preventing the buildup of cholesterol in our bloodstream, 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.

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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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

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, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Evan Amos via Wikimedia Commons.

Doctor's Note

More details on lowering cholesterol through diet can be found in Dried Apples Versus CholesterolAmla Versus DiabetesNew 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. I cover how to block the second step of heart disease in Making Our Arteries Less Sticky.

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts for additional context: The Most Anti-Inflammatory MushroomHow Does Meat Cause Inflammation?Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskThe Anti-Wrinkle DietPlant-Based Diets for Rheumatoid ArthritisDo Vegans Get More Cavities?Avoid Carnitine and Lethicin Supplements; and Trans Fat in Animal Fat.

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