The Truth About Fat and Sugar: A Cardiologist Explains That FAT is the Best Medicine

The Truth About Fat and Sugar: A Cardiologist Explains That FAT is the Best Medicine

There are a lot of Americans desperate to find out why it is they can’t lose weight. One cardiologist says it’s because they don’t know the truth about fat and sugar.

aseem molhotra

This morning, as I do most days, I breakfasted on a three egg omelette cooked in coconut oil, with a whole milk coffee.

I enjoyed a wedge of full fat cheese with my lunch, poured a liberal dose of olive oil on my evening salad and snacked on nuts throughout the day.

In short, I ingested a fair amount of fat and, as a cardiologist who has treated thousands of people with heart disease, this may seem a particularly peculiar way to behave.

Fat, after all, furs up our arteries and piles on the pounds – or at least that’s what prevailing medical and dietary advice has had us believe.

As a result, most of us have spent years eschewing full fat foods for their ‘low fat’ equivalents, in the hope it will leave us fitter and healthier.

Yet I’m now convinced we have instead been doing untold damage: far from being the best thing for health or weight loss, a low fat diet is the opposite.

In fact, I would go so far as to say the change in dietary advice in 1977 to restrict the amount of fat we were eating helped to fuel the obesity epidemic unfolding today.

… As we will see, the reality is far more nuanced: in some cases lowering cholesterol levels can actually increase cardiovascular death and mortality, while in healthy people over 60 a higher cholesterol is associated with a lower risk of mortality. Why, exactly, we will come to later.

First though, let me make it clear that until very recently, I too assumed that keeping fat to a minimum was the key to keeping healthy and trim.

In fact, to say my diet revolved around carbohydrates – sugared cereal, toast and orange juice for breakfast, a panini for lunch and pasta for dinner was not an uncommon daily menu.

Good solid fuel, or so I thought, especially as I am a keen sportsman and runner.

… The more I looked into it, the more it became abundantly clear to me that it was sugar, not fat, which was causing so many of our problems.

This is why, along with a group of fellow medical specialists, I launched the lobbying group Action on Sugar last year with the aim of persuading the food industry to reduce added sugar in processed foods.

… Effectively tearing pages out of his own textbook, Professor Noakes has now said athletes – and this goes for those of us who like to jog around the park too – can get their energy from ketones, not glucose.

That is, from fat not sugar.

Alongside them were 15 international speakers ranging from doctors, academics and health campaigners who between them produced an eloquent and evidence-based demolition of ‘low fat’ thinking – as well as suggesting that it is carbohydrate consumption, not fatty foods, which is fuelling our obesity epidemic.

… After a two year review involving 16 scientists, it concluded that a high fat, low carb diet may not only be best for weight loss, but also for reducing several markers of cardiovascular risk in the obese.

… Startling, isn’t it? A lower cholesterol is not in itself the mark of success, it only works in parallel with other important markers, like a shrinking waist size and diminishing blood markers for diabetes.

Conversely, a mounting slew of evidence suggests that far from contributing to heart problems, having full fat dairy in your diet may actually protect you from heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

What most people fail to understand is that, when it comes to diet, it’s the polyphenols and omega 3 fatty acids abundant in extra virgin olive oil, nuts, fatty fish and vegetables that help to rapidly reduce thrombosis and inflammation independent of changes in cholesterol.

Yet full fat dairy has remained demonised – until now.

… In my opinion a perfect storm of biased research funding, biased reporting in the media and commercial conflicts of interest have contributed to an epidemic of misinformed doctors and misinformed patients.

The result is a nation of over-medicated sugar addicts who are eating and pill-popping their way to years of misery with chronic debilitating diseases and an early grave.

It’s why, these days, I very seldom touch bread, have got rid of all added sugars and have embraced full fat as part of my varied Mediterranean-inspired diet.

I feel better, have more energy and – even though I didn’t set out to do so – I’ve lost that fatty tyre around my waist, despite reducing the time I spend exercising.

Perhaps you can’t face making all those changes in one go.

In which case, if you do one thing, make it this: next time you are in the supermarket and are tempted to pick up a pack of low-fat spread, buy a pack of butter instead or, better still, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil.

Your heart will thank you for it.

The father of modern medicine Hippocrates once said, ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’.

It’s now time we let ‘fat’ be that medicine.

So it turns out that fat is not the enemy, and sugar is. Could this be the key to reversing the obesity epidemic in America?

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