What Foods Cause Heart Disease

October 29, 2022

We know that heart disease is the #1 cause of death in our country so this is a very serious matter. More than ½ million Americans die each year from heart disease and it’s thought that almost 50% of our population is at risk for heart disease due to multiple risk factors. In today’s show we’ll go over what those risk factors are, what current research is saying about heart health, and what you can do with your nutritional habits to avoid a heart condition. Tune in to hear lots of great science information and practical, actionable tips!

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KARA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today's show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We're a company specializing in life changing nutrition education and counseling. As educators and counselors, we have a responsibility to give the most recent research information to all of you listeners, to our class members and our clients. And I feel really privileged to be part of a company where we prioritize the latest science-based research.

Now, if you tune into any form of media, which probably most of you do, you'll see advertisements, whether that's on tv, a streaming platform, online news publication or articles, and of course social media. And you're probably going to be inundated with ads and nutrition advice. People are just curious these days about health and nutrition. They want to learn how to eat healthy so they'll have more energy, less pain, better moods. Some want to lose weight.

Maybe you can relate to some of these. If you do look to media sources for your nutrition information, have you noticed it can be just kind of confusing? There's a lot of mixed messages. “Eat butter. Don't eat butter. Eat meat. Don't eat meat. Eat meat substitutes. Eat grass fed meat. Eat fat. Don't eat fat.” So what is a person to do? It's important that you get your nutrition education and your research from trained professionals, people who know how to read the research and know how to read these well designed research studies.

So today we have you covered. We have taken the time to do that research for you, and we're excited to be able to share cutting edge information. And we're going to talk about foods that increase risk, increase risk of heart disease. So that's the title of our show today. It is “What Foods Cause Heart Disease?”

My name is Kara Carper. I'm a licensed nutritionist and certified nutritionist with a master's degree in holistic health. So I teach out of our Wayzata location, and I also teach some virtual classes. And my cohost today is Kristi Kalinsky. Kristi’s a licensed and registered dietitian, and she works out of the Maple Grove office teaching and seeing clients. And Kristi's about to give us a good morning here, but I just want to give a little background about her. She worked in a transitional care unit and I know she saw a lot of cardiovascular complications. Personally, I'm kind of curious what foods the facility was serving the patients with heart disease. Maybe we'll save that topic for another day though.

KRISTI: Yeah, that could take up an entire show. Hi Kara. It's great to be here in the studio with you today and good morning to all of our listeners out there. You're correct. I did work with an older population in a transitional care unit with St. Therese. What a transitional care unit is: it's someone that's been in the hospital and has suffered some, you know, traumatic event, has been dealing with some type of disease or sickness, and they're just not quite strong enough to go home yet.

So we would take them in and we do rehabilitation with them, get them strong enough. And the goal was eventually to get them home. If they weren't able to accomplish those goals, they would end up going into our long-term care facility. And you are correct: a lot of cardiovascular disease that I saw in this older population. You know, probably 65 plus I would say was kind of our average age. A lot of people that had had heart attacks. A lot of people that had had cardiac bypass surgery, which basically is cleaning out those clogged arteries from high cholesterol. We had quite a few stroke patients, which was very sad to see. The interesting thing that I did notice with both these you know, subsets with the heart attacks and the strokes: a lot of times they also had diabetes.

KARA: So thank you for sharing all of that, Kristi. We know that heart disease is the number one cause of death in our country, and it's a very serious matter. And it's thought that over a half million Americans die each year from heart disease. Almost 50% of our population is at risk of heart disease. Of course, this is due to a lot of different risk factors.

Risk factors for heart disease


KRISTI: Right. You know, some of the risk factors we're talking about here: it is those high blood sugar numbers, like I mentioned with the ones that I saw: the prediabetes or they had type two diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol consumption, being overweight or obese, if they, you know, lack exercise or just even just general movement throughout the day. And of course, poor eating habits.

KARA: Right. And of course, being nutritionists and dietitians, that's what our focus is going to be today.


KARA: And Kristi, because you are currently seeing clients, I imagine that you see clients who have either been diagnosed with a heart condition, maybe they have a family history of heart disease, and they're looking for tips on prevention, prevention for a stroke or a heart attack, for example.

KRISTI: Yep. Mm-Hmm.

KARA: So let's just say a client came to see you, they booked an appointment with you next week and you were meeting with the client and he said, You know, “I'm in my forties. My dad had a heart attack when he was 48 years old. Other family members have also have had heart conditions. I am afraid that I will have a heart attack in my forties, like my dad, and Kristi, what can I do to prevent this?”

90% of heart disease is controllable through food choices and lifestyle habits


KRISTI: Yeah, actually I do see quite a few clients that have either have heart conditions or they you know, want to prevent heart disease from happening based on their genetics. So usually the first thing that I tell these clients is that even with that family history of the heart disease, 90% of the situation is actually in their control; 90%. People have a lot more control over their health than they actually might realize. Really, the only risk factors for heart disease that are not in our control would be the age or our genetic factors. All the other things I listed a moment ago, like the exercise, the poor diet, the smoking, those are things we actually can control.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. I'm just going to repeat that cause that might be new information. 90% of heart disease is because of eating the wrong foods and poor lifestyle habits. You know, that actually should give our listeners some hope that they do have control over cardiovascular disease.

KRISTI: Yep, exactly. You know, so if that client came to me and was concerned about having a heart attack in their forties, I'd reassure them, you know, give them the right information, you know, establish good nutritional habits, and then at least, you know, a 90% chance that he or she could avoid that heart condition.

KARA: Right. With the correct nutrition and cleaning up some lifestyle habits like, you know, smoking. A smoker would need to stop smoking.


KARA: Which sounds kind of obvious, but so I want to share a very recent study that drives this point home. It was published in the British Medical Journal, August 31st of this year, 2022. And the title of this study, it was done out of Italy. It's kind of a mouthful. Had some words, some Italian words that I, you know, I don't know Italian, so I'm going to summarize the title: “Ultra Processed Foods Linked to Higher Risk of Dying from Heart Disease and Higher Risk of All-Cause Mortality”.

KRISIT: So I'm going to simplify that even a little more, Kara. What the study found is that people who ate the highest processed foods, which we are going to talk about and define what these highest processed foods are, they were at a higher risk for dying from heart disease and they were also at a higher risk of dying from other causes as well, specifically colon cancer.

KARA: So, Kristi, I am just kind of looking at the time and it looks like it's going to be time for a break. So I think let's go to break and then we, I really want to dive more into that study a lot when we come back, but you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today we're talking about what foods cause heart disease. Because our culture is bombarded with processed and sugary foods, it can feel challenging and overwhelming to avoid these foods and beverages.

A helpful resource could be taking one of our online classes from the comfort of your own home. And I want to share that just for a couple more days, all of our online classes at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, they're on sale for 50% off. So do you want to know what the price is? $12.50 to access an online class for four months. So I did a little math in my head, and that's the equivalent of buying about two fast food meals. After our short break, Kristi will tell you about two of these online classes that we think would be helpful for someone concerned about heart disease.

Sign up for a Nutrition Class


KRISTI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Kristi Kalinski, a registered and licensed dietitian here with Kara Carper, licensed nutritionist. Before break, Kara told you about the sale we're having for all of our online classes. They're half price: $12.50, and you have access to these classes for four months. There isn't a class titled Heart Health, but since you now know that the, that processed foods and sugar are the culprits when it comes to heart disease, you would benefit from watching the Breaking the Sugar Habit. That's an online class. Or the Reducing Risk of Prediabetes and Diabetes class. High blood sugar and heart disease are very closely related.

KARA: Yeah. And you mentioned that when you were talking about patients in your transitional care unit at St. Therese as well. Research in 2020 found that more than 90% of people with type two diabetes are at high risk of dying from heart disease or stroke within 10 years. And it's so, it's critical that prediabetes and diabetes be addressed to prevent cardiovascular disease. And according to new research in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, the official Journal of the European Association of Preventative Cardiology, more than 90% of people with type two diabetes are at risk of a fatal heart attack within 10 years.

KRISTI: Wow. It's unbelievable. So if you want to learn more, the online classes are on our website, weightandwellness.com. The sale goes through October 31st. You can call our offices well for more information: 651-699-3438. And before the break, we were talking about a heart disease study.

Processed foods connection to heart disease


KARA: Yeah. So the study just found that ultra processed foods, and we're about to talk more about what, what that definition means, really are the culprit when it comes to heart disease. So in this study, there were 22,000 participants. So very large study. The group that ate the most highly processed foods had a 32% greater risk of dying from heart disease compared to the group that ate few processed foods.

KRISTI: Well, and the other thing that study found was the group eating the most highly processed foods had a 19% greater risk of dying from all causes. So this is really powerful information and I would tell my client with that family history of heart disease, that the first thing he or she could do to reduce that risk of developing heart disease is to minimize those highly processed foods in their diet and focus on eating real foods that are in their original form.

We have a dietitian on staff, Mel. She has the greatest sayings, and I'm not going to get it exactly right, but I've kind of summarized what she has said. And this is what I say to my clients as well, in terms of eating real foods. If you cannot pick it off of a bush, pluck it off a tree, dig it out of a garden, or chase it around a farm yard, you shouldn't be eating it.

What are some heart healthy foods?


KARA: I mean, we love Mel and we love that phrase. So researchers broke down foods in the study and put them into several categories: unprocessed or minimally processed. So these are the healthiest foods for our heart. These are the ones that you pick, pluck chase around, find on a farm, dig out of the ground. Real protein would be eggs, chicken, beef, fish. Real carbohydrates grown in the ground or picking off of a tree. Think about eating a fresh salad with a variety of vegetables or a piece of fruit, or maybe some berries, potatoes coming from the ground. And real unprocessed fats and oils like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, nuts, seeds and avocados.

KRISTI: You know, and I'd add in the unprocessed or minimally processed category that there can be some shortcuts. So I'll give you an example. The protein shake that I make in the morning for breakfast, I use organic frozen blueberries and organic pre-washed spinach. I also use a high quality protein. And then I'll also add almond butter. So the frozen blueberries and spinach, they're both in bags. You know, the protein powder’s in a container and the almond butter is in a jar, but they are minimally processed and are still great choices.

KARA: Exactly right. So I just don't want people to be overwhelmed. Like every single thing I have to have is a fresh fruit or vegetable.

KRISTI: Right.

KARA: Like there are some shortcuts. So then there's the processed food group. This is kind of the in between food group. A food is usually considered processed when it has several ingredients. So something has been added to preserve it, like maybe sugar was added to preserve it. A couple examples are canned fruit that has added sugar or canned vegetables that has preservatives to make the shelf life longer.

So the, it's usually in some kind of a box or a can. Even though canned fruit with sugar, it's not a great option because fresh fruit has more fiber, more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. It's still not the absolute worst category.

What are considered ultra processed foods?


KRISTI: Right. True. You know, the, the foods that we're talking about that lead to the highest risk of dying from heart disease, they're called ultra processed foods. So when I look at the ingredients that are often in these foods, to me they just look unrecognizable. Ultra processed foods are very high in additives and the labels always have a long list of ingredients with things that are hard to pronounce. These foods contain added flavors, flavor enhancers, colorings, emulsifiers, which are also known as thickeners. Artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated and refined oils. Or they'll have certain agents like anti foaming agents, bulking agents, carbonating agents, gelling agents.

KARA: Wow. That's a lot of agents. Oh my gosh. I think we need to give some examples. I actually can't wrap my head around some of those terms. Ultra processed drinks would be, for example, diet soda, regular soda, energy drinks, sweetened coffee drinks. Sweetened coffee drinks have a lot of sugar and usually refined oils as well. All fast food falls into this category. You know, think fries, burgers, chicken tenders, things like that. Chicken nuggets; sweet treats like ice cream, cake, cookies and muffins; a lot of baked goods.

KRISTI: Right. You know, and those ultra-processed foods, they're not just found in the fast food drive-through lane. Right? Or the coffee shop or Dairy Queen. They're at home too. They can be found in the freezer, in the cupboards, and even in the refrigerator. A lot of kids like these ultra processed foods like fish sticks, frozen chicken nuggets, pizza chips, macaroni and cheese, even packaged breads, granola bars, you know, and sweetened yogurt fall into this category of being ultra processed.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. I know, I mean I feel like most foods these days fall into that category.

KRISTI: Yep. Exactly.

KARA: You know? And these are the foods heavily marketed well to both kids and adults. Did you know that 60% of the calories that Americans are eating come from foods that are in this ultra processed category?

KRISTI: That's crazy. 60%.

KARA: 60%. I know more than half of the foods that most people are eating fall into the this category. So we need to think about the future health, not only of our aging population, but our kids. I mean, if we can steer our kids away from these highly processed foods, we're setting them up for a future to have low risk of heart disease, not to mention many other chronic diseases that can occur from poor nutrition and lifestyle.

KRISTI: Right. Exactly.

KARA: So I can't believe that it's already time for a second break here. It's going, the hour's going fast. But you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are talking about heart disease today, which is the number one cause of death in our country. As nutritionists and dietitians, we focus on food first, but additional supplements can be helpful to fill in I like to call it nutritional gaps.

Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation


Most Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. So taking a high quality omega-3 fish oil supplement can reduce inflammation and can be supportive for heart health. And so, you know, omega three fatty acids, they can be difficult to obtain from food sources. That is one reason that most Americans are deficient. So we will talk more about omega three fatty acids when we come back.


KRISTI: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Kara was talking about omega 3’s prior to the break. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and are also an antioxidant; both properties that help the heart. You know, simply taking one fish oil capsule per day is usually not sufficient to help reduce that inflammation. You know, it's best to talk to a professional about how to take it, but in general, what I recommend to my clients is about 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams of a very good quality omega three fish oil supplement.

When you are taking this 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams of fish oil, it's best to take it with food because it absorbs more readily in the body that way. Omega 3’s are just really helpful in reducing inflammation. They can also reduce those triglyceride numbers, which is a number found in the cholesterol panel.

I know before break we were talking about ultra processed foods that kids like to eat. So it might sound overwhelming, you know, well what am I, you know, what should I feed my kids? And what should I be eating? And trust me, you're not alone in thinking this. It can feel like a really big undertaking. I help people every day in my office. I counsel them on how to make a meal plan that I customize for them. So it's foods they like to eat and what their families like to eat that use these real whole foods and avoid these processed foods that we're talking about. And guess what? It still tastes delicious.

Simple swaps to make unhealthy meals a healthy option


KARA: Right. It does not have to be a processed food to taste good. So I'd like to give some simple swaps that people can start doing today. You know, I remember being on a news spot awhile back at KARE 11, a local television station. And I did a piece on eat this, not that. So to prepare for this, I had to go to McDonald's. I had to buy a fast food meal: burger, French fries, one of those fountain sodas. Those were all processed, contained, you know, high sugar, trans fats, refined oils, preservatives, way too many carbohydrates in general.

So you may have guessed that that was the “don't eat this meal”. And then at home I made a hamburger patty. I melted real cheddar cheese. I added some lettuce on the side, tomato, onion. I skipped the bun because that would just be, well, sugar, carbohydrates-not necessary because then I also had a different healthier carbohydrate. I sliced up a baby red potato, cooked it up in some butter, almost like a homemade type of a French fry.

KRISTI: Sounds wonderful.

KARA: So it was. I actually didn't eat it because it was for display. But I would eat a meal like that any, any night of the week. So presto, you know, very similar meal to the fast food meal, but the homemade burger and homemade potatoes were minimally processed. How many ingredients? Well, beef, cheese, potato, butter, and a couple of vegetables on the side.

KRISTI: That sounds great. So, and what I like to tell my clients too is when they're cooking at home as well, not only are they feeding their body better, they're also saving money too by buying those foods.

KARA: Yeah.

KRISTI: Versus going through the drive through.

KARA: I didn't do the math on like how much everything costs, but a lot less just for like cooking one burger patty at home with a slice of cheese.

KRISTI: Yep, exactly.

KARA: And one potato.

KRISTI: Right. Well and like you said, it doesn't have to be complicated. You know, I've even seen in the grocery store those pre-made hamburger patties. You know, they have those at most grocery stores to speed up the process. You have to open the container, throw it on the grill, put it on the stove top. And then it's done in a few minutes. Super easy.

KARA: Right. Or think about like eggs. You know, some people are so busy or maybe they just haven't learned how to cook and you can go to the store and buy like eggs that are even pre boiled.


KARA: You know?

KRISTI: Yep. Or what about kid chicken nuggets? Well I shouldn't say kid chicken nuggets. A lot of adults eat chicken nuggets too, but whether they're from a fast food chain or if you're grabbing them out of your freezer, those are considered ultra processed. They have a lot of preservatives, additives, and refined oils. So just not good for the heart.

KRISTI: Yep. Correct. You know, personally I love our recipe for the turkey and the chicken nuggets that are on our website. If you guys want to check that out it's at weightandwellness.com. I can tell you the turkey and the chicken nuggets, those are a hit with my two teenagers. You know, I'm sure there's other great recipes for homemade chicken nuggets as well. The key really is just starting with real chicken, real turkey and adding minimal ingredients to it. So like for example, that recipe online that I was referring to for our healthy chicken nuggets, the ingredients are chicken and egg, almond meal, salt and poultry seasoning. It's a simple list of ingredients and they're actually really easy to make.

KARA: They're really easy and they're good. We actually make those at our house quite a bit and we all eat them. I mean, I know they're kind of touted as a kid food.

KRISTI: Right.

KARA: But they're very healthy and they taste delicious.


KARA: So on the flip side, I have a list of ingredients and this is a common brand of frozen pre-cooked chicken nuggets. So the kind that you would be making at home, but they're coming out of your freezer. You're not making them from scratch. And it's a, you know, it's not an exhaustive list, but you know, it does, thankfully it has some chicken in there. Flour, food starch, soy protein isolate, salt, corn flour, yeast, evaporated cane sugar, gluten, soybean oil, flavor, spices. So sodium bicarbonate par fried in vegetable oil. You kind of get the gist of it. Right?

KRISTI: Oh yeah.

KARA: This is, it's still considered ultra processed,

KRISTI: Right. Yeah, exactly. Those ingredients fall into that highly processed category. You know, even worse is the fast food chicken nugget. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to name the different fast food chains on the radio. I'll just say that a very common fast food chicken nugget that I know of has over 40 ingredients in it. I mean, oh ew. That doesn't even sound like it's still a food item to me when it's got 40 ingredients in it.

KARA: Right. Right. So I just want to give one more example. And then after that, Kristi and I will start talking about foods that people can eat if they are concerned about their heart or, or if someone's already been diagnosed with a heart condition, we also want you to stay tuned because we do see these things reverse and turn around all the time with the correct nutrition.

But the one last example that I would like to give about kind of eat this, not that is yogurt. Artificially or sugar sweetened yogurt is ultra processed and should be avoided. And so a better choice, I'm going to give an example of something that my daughter and I really enjoy at home. It's a homemade yogurt dish. So we start with plain Greek full fat or whole milk yogurt. The ones that I tend to find at the store are either four or 5% milk fat.

And I like to mix in a little flavor. There's different ways to do this. People could use a little maple syrup or you know, that would be fine. It's still a lot less sugar than the ones that are already sweetened. But personally, I had a half scoop of chocolate whey protein powder. So it's really creamy and it's chocolatey flavor.

KRISTI: Sounds good.

KARA: And then I sneak in a tablespoon of either ground flax or chia seeds. It thickens it up. It's a great form of fiber. And like for my daughter, she can't even tell it's in there. Then I'll add some fruit. Sometimes it's a sliced banana; might be some fresh berries or frozen. And then to top it off and get that healthy fat, I sprinkle with some nuts. Any type of nuts are fine. My personal preference is slivered almonds. So Kristi, that's, it's delicious. It's minimally processed.


KARA: Again, very few ingredients.

KARA: Right, Exactly. And it tastes good too. I do something similar for my son. He likes to put hemp seeds on top of his yogurt.

KARA: Oh, I never thought about that. That's a great idea.

KRISTI: Because I've had some clients ask me, what can I use instead of granola to get that? You know, cause granola is highly processed.

KARA: Oh for that crunch. How do you get the crunch?

KRISTI: Want the crunch. Yes. and not, you know, necessarily want to do it through nuts. So we use hemp seeds. And that's a really good all natural fat to be adding to the yogurt.

KARA: Oh, I like that idea too, I’ll have to check that out.

KRISTI: Yeah. Yeah. So switching from those ultra processed to minimally processed whole real foods. It's actually not that complicated, but it does take some practice and some education. You know, we've talked about foods that cause heart disease. So I want to clear up a couple of big misconceptions about what foods do not cause heart disease.

Misconceptions about what foods cause heart disease


KARA: Great point, Kristi. There's a lot of outdated information floating around that really never had research to back it. So we want to clear that up for everyone today. And I'm just going to mention two kind of buzz terms that come up in the world of, or in the conversation of heart disease. So one term is saturated fat. The other term is cholesterol.

KRISTI: Right. You know, historically those were a misconception that foods containing cholesterol should be avoided or minimized to prevent heart disease. There was really no research to back this claim. You know, and then finally in 2015, the dietary guidelines for Americans were updated to say there's no longer a limit on how much cholesterol is obtained from food because it's not a nutrient of concern for cardiovascular disease. So the cholesterol you're seeing on your food label, that actually does not raise the cholesterol in your blood.

KARA: And isn't that interesting? And so those guidelines, I mean, the cholesterol piece was in there for a long time. And those guidelines are updated every five years. So I feel like it, you know, it was a little bit behind the times in making that adjustment, but very glad that that adjustment was made. And we we're going to quick go to our last break. We'll talk more about cholesterol and saturated fat, but you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition.

I'm Kara Carper, licensed nutritionist. I'm here today with Kristi Kalinsky, licensed and registered dietitian. And our topic today is “What Foods Cause Heart Disease?” So by now in the show you've heard, you've heard us say that a recent study found a 32% increased risk of dying from heart disease when ultra processed foods make up a lot of the diet. We know there's benefits to cooking and preparing meals at home. And that's why our company has put together several virtual cooking classes for you. And we have four coming up in November and December. So the classes are 75 minutes long. All of the recipes are kind of aligned with our Minnesota season changes. So please stay tuned for more information.


KRISTI: Our culinary expert, chef Marianne, will be teaching four virtual classes over the next two months. The classes are Meat: Roast, Braise, and Sauté, Batch Cooking for Simple Dinners, Cooking in Autumn, and Sheet Pan and One Pot Meals. Each class is only $25. Even if the exact dates and times don't work for your schedule, please still register because you will receive a link to the recording and you actually have three days to view the classes before it expires.

And I can tell you these classes are wonderful. Marianne is such a talented chef. She's very interactive online and she does a great job of educating, educating our clients when they watch these classes. You can read more about these classes, the dates and times, and register on our website at weightandwellness.com. Just click on classes.

Sign Up for a Cooking Class

Fat and cholesterol are not contributors to heart disease


KARA: Yeah. And another thing that people can do, like if they go to our website and they're not sure how to sign up, you can always, you know, just call our office. I'll remind of the number 651-699-3438. And so prior to break, Kristi and I were talking about just something that changed in 2015. The guidelines changed, the federal guidelines changed to remove the limit of dietary cholesterol because it was not a nutrient of concern and there was no research to ever back that it was a concern when it comes to cardiovascular disease.


KARA: But another update that I want to talk about, because this happened also in 2015 and it was the guidelines were changed. They removed the limit on total fat consumption. So it used to be that 35% of or of calories or fewer were supposed to come from dietary fats. But the the updated guidelines in 2015 changed to say reducing total fat does not lower cardiovascular risk. The emphasis should not be on optimizing, or excuse me, the emphasis should be on optimizing types of fats and not necessarily reducing total amount of fat. So to summarize, neither foods with cholesterol or the total amount of fat in foods are concerns at all when it comes to cardiovascular disease.

KRISTI: Yeah. I'm sure that's new information for a lot of our listeners.

KARA: I bet it is.

KRISTI: Yes. Our owner, Dar, at Nutritional Weight and Wellness has actually been spreading this particular message for about the past 30 years. It just took a while for the national guidelines to catch up to her recommendations.

Eggs and their health benefits


KARA: Right. Right. So we want to assure you to eat the whole egg. Eat the whole egg, right?

KRISTI: Yes. Not just the egg whites.

KARA: Not just the whites. Yeah. Well first of all, it tastes so much better. Fat is where we get our flavor.


KARA: The yolks are rich in omega three fatty acids. We talked about that earlier. Right? How most Americans, I believe it's at least 85% of Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. You can get that from an egg yolk. You also get nutrients like lecithin, choline and magnesium. Those are all heart healthy nutrients. They're also great for the brain.

KRISTI: Right. So there's no need to avoid these foods with fat or cholesterol. The real culprits, as we've been talking about are those ultra processed or highly processed foods.

Heart disease stems from inflammation


KARA: Heart disease stems from inflammation. So, and if that's kind of confusing, you know, some people hear the term inflammation and they think about like a strained shoulder. Or something, or my knee hurts, but our blood vessels, our vessel walls can become inflamed.


KARA: And it's the foods that we've been talking about, the ultra processed foods that are high in sugar, preservatives, additives and refined vegetable oils. Those are all foods that cause more inflammation in our, in our vessel walls. You know, and not just one trip through the fast food drive through. It's not the occasional Friday night pizza, but that's not what's happening. Right Kristi? Because I mentioned earlier that 60% of what people are eating, 60% of calories that people eat in a day, day in, day out, come from this ultra processed food category. So that is, that just shows that's a huge factor as to why heart disease has become the number one killer in our country.

Saturated fat does not cause heart disease


KRISTI: Right. You know, since we were just talking about the saturated fats I wanted to bring up another study I found when I was preparing for our show today. It's from the Journal of American College of Cardiology. They published a meta analysis and what a meta analysis means is it's research coming from several different studies. You know, the research found there's no beneficial effects on reducing saturated fat on cardiovascular disease and death. In fact, the research instead found protective effects against stroke when study participants ate foods that had saturated fat.

And I just want to share a client story. I have a client I've been seeing, oh, probably for a little less than a year. He had a heart attack at age 43. You know, strong family history of heart disease. He wanted to meet with me though in in terms of just revamping his diet in order to prevent any further cardiovascular disease. He doesn't want, obviously want to have another heart attack. Very, very reluctant to add saturated fats into his diet. I could tell, you know, just he, he was kind of fighting me tooth and nail. He's like, ah. He's like, I just think I'm going to contribute to more heart disease if I eat these saturated fats.

KARA: Where do you think he got that message or information?

KRISTI: Who knows? I mean, that's just kind of been a longstanding…

KARA: Yeah. You know, it's like a lot of people just think that. But maybe they don't even know where they first heard that.

KRISTI: No, exactly. You know, or, or maybe cardiologists are still saying it, you know.

KARA: Just need some updated information.

KRISTI: Right. Exactly. Anyway, I talked to him. I tried to explain to him that it's more the blood sugar piece and the jellybeans he was eating every day; those ultra processed sugary foods that were irritating his vessel linings. And it wasn't the saturated fat. So he actually put his faith in me and he started eating the saturated fats. He started doing coconut oil, real butter, heavy whipping cream.

And I said, let's test your cholesterol again in about three to six months. Let's see where we're sitting. And you know, it was great news. His cholesterol had gone down and his bad cholesterol or his LDL had gone down with eating the saturated fats.

KARA: That's phenomenal. Yeah. But you, you were confident that that would be the outcome.

KRISTI: Right.

KARA: He had faith in you.

KRISTI: Right.

KARA: So kudos to him. I know it can be hard to have a new way of thinking.

KRISTI: Right. Exactly.

KARA: But that's, that's a great story. Thank you so much for sharing. You know, that brings back a memory of, I think it was in 2014 when Time Magazine, if listeners may remember this, but Time Magazine came out. There was a picture of butter on the cover of this magazine, and the tagline read “Eat Butter: Scientists Labeled Fat the Enemy: Why They Were Wrong”. And I don't know if you remember that, Kristi, but that was, it was a real eye opener for a lot of people.


KARA: And of course, at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, I was working here in 2014 and we were already like, you know, disseminating that message.

KRISIT: Exactly. Before it even came out in the, the magazine. Right?

KARA: Yeah. Yeah. So that was, it just kind of brought back that memory. But unfortunately, old messages die hard. And that's why we are here today to educate about the true culprit of what foods cause heart disease. And I know we're quoting a lot of studies, but I want to share one more that I recently found about cholesterol levels and heart disease.

Is there a correlation between cholesterol and heart disease?


It was a large cohort study. Over 12 million people were in this Korean study. Researchers found that the lowest risk of dying from any cause occurred in people who had a total cholesterol level between 210 and 249 milligrams per deciliter. And specifically, you know, that was for men and women over the age of 44. It was a little bit different for younger folks, but it was still above, for the most part, above 200. So, kind of interesting, isn't it?

KRISTI: Right. Yeah. You know, it's, it's the most common for people getting older like that over age 44 age group to be concerned about those cholesterol labs. You know, unfortunately modern medicine is behind in updating the standard guidelines because many lab ranges still indicate that any cholesterol level over 200 is too high. You know, and I educate my clients. I say, I don't care about the total number. I'm looking at what's going on underneath and the breakdown of the cholesterol, not the actual total number. That doesn't matter.

KARA: Exactly. And, and researchers also found the association in this particular study between having a cholesterol number that was too low and dying that was a stronger link than it was of having too high of cholesterol and dying.

KRISTI: Huh, interesting.

KARA: So better off having it higher; less risk of dying from heart disease. You know, I wish we had more time to dive into that cholesterol piece today, but we have other great shows that give a lot of information on that. Just for an example, The Cholesterol Myth, that was, it's a little bit of an older show, but still very relevant; September of 2008. Just go to our website and type in cholesterol in the search and you'll find a lot of other great podcasts.

Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple but a powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thanks for listening and have a wonderful day.

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