Fatty foods don’t cause heart disease, bread and pasta do

This year, more than 610,000 Americans will die from heart disease. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women.

For decades, doctors and nutritionists prescribed low-fat diets to people trying to lower their risk of heart disease. Saturated fats in meats and dairy products were thought to clog our arteries. Grains — especially “whole” ones — were thought to help everything from high cholesterol to digestion.

A growing body of research suggests this advice was wrong. For most people, it’s carbohydrates, not fats, that are the true cause of heart disease.

Consider a report published last year in The Lancet that studied nutrition among more than 135,000 people across 18 different countries — making it the largest-ever observational study of its kind.

The researchers found that people who ate the least saturated fat — about the same amount currently recommended for heart patients — had the highest rates of heart disease and mortality. Meanwhile, people who consumed the most saturated fat had the lowest rate of strokes.

Limiting intake of carbohydrates, rather than fats, is a surer way to decrease the risk of heart disease.

An analysis of more than a dozen studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that patients on low-carb diets had healthier body weights and cardiovascular systems than those on conventional low-fat diets.

I’m a cardiologist in Virginia and my own patients have seen the benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet firsthand.

Consider Marj. At age 71, she lost more than 100 pounds in a year without medication, meal replacements or surgery — just by cutting out sugars and starches, and eating healthier food.

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