For far too long saturated fat has been incorrectly blamed for causing heart disease, while the real culprit goes unnoticed.

Coronary heart disease is responsible for one in six deaths in the United States and is right up there as one of the biggest killers worldwide. So it's not surprising then that most people are concerned about the health of their heart and want to do whatever it takes to keep it healthy. Unfortunately, it has meant that many people are unnecessarily avoiding fat, and are following precisely the type of diet that will give them heart disease!

Most people think that if you eat too much fat you'll end up with fat clogging your arteries. The truth is heart disease and atherosclerosis are far more complicated than that. Saturated fat has very little effect on overall cholesterol levels in most people, and it even has the ability to raise the "good" HDL cholesterol. Sugar on the other hand is capable of causing a range of metabolic disturbances that lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

When we mention sugar, we are also talking about high carbohydrate foods that are rapidly digested into sugar. Examples include most breakfast cereals, pasta, bread, rice and any food made of flour. Foods that have a high glycemic load are rapidly converted into sugar in the body and therefore behave in much the same way.

Sugar raises the risk of heart disease in the following ways:

  • Elevation of total cholesterol
  • Elevation of triglycerides
  • Raising LDL "bad" cholesterol
  • Promoting the oxidized LDL cholesterol (oxidized LDL is more likely to cause harm to the artery walls)
  • Elevating uric acid (raises the risk of gout and kidney stones)
  • Promoting insulin resistance and abnormal glucose tolerance (raises the risk of type 2 diabetes)
  • Reduces HDL "good" cholesterol
  • Altering platelet function in a way that makes the blood thicker and more prone to clotting
  • Raising blood pressure
  • Promoting the development of fatty liver disease
  • Promoting the development of leptin resistance. This increases the risk of weight gain and it increases hunger and cravings for carbohydrates, making weight loss much more difficult

So you can see that, when eaten in excess, sugar and carbs have disastrous effects on metabolism and cardiovascular health. Each person has a different tolerance level for carbohydrate and sugar; some people can get away with eating more of it and not suffering these consequences....(yet!). If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or if there are overweight people in your family, your tolerance for carbohydrate will usually be lower.

Tips to promote a healthy heart

  • Look after the health of your liver. Your liver is the most metabolically active organ in your body. Two of its main jobs are fat burning and detoxification. If your liver is healthy you will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight. If your liver is healthy you will also have a healthy level of cholesterol in your blood. If you have a fatty liver, please follow the guidelines in my book, Fatty Liver: You Can Reverse It. If you are carrying excess weight on your abdomen, my liver tonic, Livatone Plus, should help to shift it more easily.
  • Sugar and all carbohydrate rich foods can raise your cholesterol because your liver turns the carbohydrate into fat. Therefore, cutting down or cutting out foods like bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals, sugary drinks and any food that contains flour or sugar is a very useful way of keeping your cholesterol in the healthy range. I know it can feel almost impossible to quit eating sugar, especially if your body is accustomed to it and you suffer with unstable blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). That’s when a blood sugar balancing supplement can really help. The herbs Gymnema and bitter melon, as well as the minerals chromium, magnesium and manganese all help to stabilize blood sugar and thereby reduce hunger and cravings. Glicemic Balance capsules contain these ingredients and are best taken with each meal
  • Avoid consuming unhealthy fats. Most vegetable oil is far too high in omega 6 fats which promote inflammation. When these fats are heated (during cooking) they are further damaged and become very harmful to the body. The healthiest fats to include in your diet are avocados, extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, organic coconut oil, pastured butter and ghee. The last three fats are best for cooking.
  • People with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance (syndrome X) are at much higher risk of heart disease than the average person. People with these conditions usually have elevated blood insulin levels and insulin stimulates the liver to make cholesterol. Berberine is a natural plant extract that can help people with syndrome X to reduce their cholesterol. This is because it inhibits an enzyme in the body called PCSK9. This facilitates the removal of LDL cholesterol from your bloodstream. Berberine actually has the same mechanism of action as the newest cholesterol lowering drugs that have just been approved by the FDA but is significantly less expensive.

If you need more information about protecting your heart, see our book Cholesterol: The Real Truth.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.