Statin Drugs and Low-Fat Diet Fads: A Recipe for Heart Disease
March 28, 2016 | 518 views
By Dr. Mercola
The notion that saturated fat may be leading you toward heart disease is one of the most misguided pieces of health advice in history. And to make matters worse, health experts are now recommending people to take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
This advice has become so ingrained that as many as 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 45 are currently taking a statin.
However, the unfortunate truth is that these two ideas are the worst mistakes you can make for your heart. Consuming a low-fat diet and taking a statin is a sure-fire recipe for disaster, paving the way for many health problems, including cardiovascular disease.
Saturated Fat: This ‘Villain’ Is Actually GOOD for Your Heart
I’ve been discussing the benefits of saturated fats for a long time, as I believe it’s one of the essential components for optimal health. Now, this recommendation is strongly supported by mounting studies that reveal that saturated fats are actually important for maintaining a healthy heart.
What’s more, the low-fat diet craze that many people are now following has resulted in the excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates – a factor that led to increased inflammation and disease.
The truth is that sugar, and not saturated fat, is the primary cause of heart disease. Sugar and non-vegetable carbohydrates are converted to fat by your liver, which helps your body maintain blood sugar control in the short-term. However, this increases triglyceride concentrations, which then heightens your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Excessively consuming refined grains and sugar also elevate your insulin and leptin levels, which can then lead to resistance – a major factor in many chronic health problems. So, while whole grains and low-fat foods continue making claims that they’re “heart healthy,” remember that swapping saturated fats with these foods will likely result in an increased risk of heart disease.
Misguided Statin Advice Can Lead to Heart Disease
Further compounding the problem is the fact that statin drugs are widely prescribed to “prevent” heart disease. Even teens and young adults are being advised to take statins, following guidelines set by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in 2011. The guidelines aimed to reduce heart disease in adolescents and children by prescribing statin treatment if their cholesterol levels reach a certain level.
Unfortunately, the risks associated with statins far outweigh the benefits (if any). One study published in the journal Atherosclerosis found that there is a 52 percent increased prevalence of coronary plaque, a hallmark of potentially lethal heart disease, among statin users compared to non-users. It can also lead to diabetes by triggering insulin resistance and elevating your blood sugar levels.
Statins also interfere with biological functions, such as depleting your supply of CoQ10 and interfering with your mevalonate pathway, which affects your:
- Sex hormones
- Sterols like cholesterol and vitamin D
- Dolichols (helps maintain the health of membranes inside your cell)
Statins can even potentially cause amnesia and dementia-like symptoms. Hundreds of cases have been reported to MedWatch, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s adverse drug reaction database.
Making Sound Lifestyle Choices Is the Best Way to Avoid Heart Disease
Don’t be fooled by conventional health wisdom and pharmaceutical propaganda – statin drugs are NOT an effective way to avoid heart disease, and may increase your risk for it.
Instead, make an effort to switch to healthy lifestyle choices, such as consuming a balanced diet composed of healthy animal and plant-based fats, moderate amounts of protein, and vegetable carbohydrates, following a stringent exercise routine, getting enough vitamin D from the sun, and addressing your stress levels.
You should also try timing your meals. Intermittent fasting is a scheduled eating plan that limits eating to a specific window of time, such as six to eight hours per day, while fasting for the rest. Aside from following a specific eating pattern, this technique also involves making healthy food choices.
To learn more about the dangers of statin drugs and why avoiding saturated fats is not an optimal strategy for heart health, read my article "Why You May Be Better Off Ignoring Conventional Cholesterol and Low-Fat Diet Guidelines."