How A Low-Fat & Poor Quality Diet Effect Heart Health
February has arrived! As you may already know, February is National Heart Month here in the United States. I wanted to write a quick post to give you a little food for thought about how a low-fat diet and a poor quality diet effect cardiovascular health.
For many years a low-fat diet has been recommended as a diet of good health. The problem with this is that a low-fat diet does not typically consist of healthy fats. Often, a low-fat diet contains trans-fats, hydrogenated fats and highly processed vegetable oils found in processed foods. These types of fats do not create healthy cells which are needed to make healthy organs which are needed to make a healthy YOU…. AND they do not satisfy our appetite! Low-fat foods generally do not have an appealing taste so the Food Giants have added sugars and chemicals to the food to make it “taste good”. These sugars cause a spike in insulin and can contribute to a compromised blood sugar state, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, just to name a few conditions. So let’s look at some of the Foundations of Heart Health….essential elements for true heart health that I look at when working with clients.
As I mentioned earlier, heart disease IS a processed food disease. For a diet to be heart-healthy, it is crucial that it is properly-prepared and nutrient dense. This is fundamental! A person eating properly-prepared and soaked grains will benefit from naturally-occurring B1 and B4 vitamins. Essential fatty acids can also be obtained by eating cold-pressed oils, raw nuts and raw seed.
Proper protein digestion is critical to make amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Amino acids such as taurine and carnitine are needed for heart health. These amino acids need to be available to the heart when it is need for proper function. In order for the body to absorb calcium and digest the B vitamins, the proper stomach pH is needed. It is impossible to digest healthy fats and fat-soluble vitamins, which are so important for heart function, without proper liver and gallbladder function. Yes, you need your gallbladder, and if you are eating toxic fats, your gallbladder will be effected! Proper bowel flora is necessary to produce vitamins B1, B2, B12 and K2. How is your digestion?
Blood Sugar Balance
Blood sugar imbalances can lead to an overproduction of the hormone cortisol when you are in the “fight or flight” mode….many people are in this mode all day long and they don’t even realize it! This overproduction of cortisol can lead to insulin resistance which will not allow your cells to absorb minerals which are needed for your heart to work properly. High levels of insulin will also block the formation of hormones necessary for the body to ani-inflame.
Fatty Acid Balance
The truth is that GOOD FATS ARE THE BEST SOURCE OF ENERGY FOR THE HEART! The heart depends on healthy fats as fuel for proper function. In order to manage inflammation, which is now considered to be a major contributor of heart disease, the appropriate mix of fatty acids is crucial. Many Americans consume a ratio of 1:20 of Omega-3:Omega 6. Both of these oils are considered to be polyunsaturated. This ratio should actually be as close to 1:1 as possible.
Omega-3 oils include: Mackerel, Salmon, Cod Liver Oil, Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Herring, Flaxseeds, Tuna, White Fish, Sardines, Anchovies, Natto and Egg Yolks (pasture-raised). Keep in mind to always choose deep sea, cold water fish that is wild caught and never choose farm raised fish.
Omega-6 oils include: Blackcurrant Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Sunflower Oil, Sesame Oil, Pistachio Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds and Sunflower Seeds. It is VERY important to remember that seed oils should NEVER be heated or used when cooking food but they can be added after the food is cooked for flavor.
So when the ratios of Omega-6 is much higher than Omega-3 it will cause inflammation in the body!
Other oils include Omega-9, which are considered monounsaturated. These oils include: Olives and Olive Oil, Avocados and Avocado Oil, Almonds and Almond Oil, Hazelnut and Hazel Nut Oil, Macadamia Nuts and Macadamia Nut Oil.
The healthy forms of saturated fats include: Pasture-Raised Animals that are Grass-Fed, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Palm Oil, and Organic Grass-Fed Dairy.
It is important to remember that fatty acids are an ESSENTIAL part of every cell membrane in our body and they make up the tissues of the heart and coronary arteries. So if you are not eating the right kinds and proper ratios of fats, it will effect your heart health.
Magnesium and Calcium are essential for a healthy heart. Calcium triggers the contraction and relaxation of the heart and even all of your muscles….don’t forget that the heart is a muscle! Magnesium is important because if you don’t have the proper ratio of calcium and magnesium, the calcium will not work. Irregular heartbeats are often a sign of magnesium deficiency. If you are suffering from muscle cramping, you need to look more closely at your mineral balance.
Did you know that if you are not properly hydrated your vascular system will selectively close some of its vessels which can lead to hypertension? Hydration greatly impacts how efficiently proteins and enzymes function within the body and these proteins and enzymes are needed for heart health! A good rule of thumb for healthy individuals is to drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water per day and to not exceed 100 ounces. You will need a little more if you are quite active.
So as you can see, healthy fatty acids are imperative to managing inflammation which is a major contributor of heart disease. When people consume low-fat foods and an improper diet they are not able to reap these benefits. Keep in mind that good quality fats are the best source of energy for the heart.
To You In Good Health,
If you want to address your health concerns and would like to find out how to reach your health goals and learn more about The RESTART® Program sugar detox group class, you can contact me here.
Disclaimer: I do not diagnose or treat disease, but instead make nutritional recommendations for balancing the body and promoting optimal wellness. Nutritional Therapy Practitioners are approved by the NTA as a certifying organization, but are not licensed or certified by any state. I am not, nor do I represent myself as a dietitian or nutritionist.