Volume11, Issue 32 | April 18, 2014
Why a high-fat diet - even healthy
fat - isn’t good for your arteries
On Wednesday, I showed you how a particular fat — olive oil — can help your arteries. The polyphenols in this amazing fat help your cells that line your arteries stay healthy. These endothelial cells depend on polyphenols for their health. But another study shows that they don't rely on the fat.

As you may know, I'm not a fan of the Atkins diet, which is a high-fat diet. Yes, it will help you lose weight. But it has a hidden dark side.

A study on 20 obese volunteers between the ages of 29 and 39 looked at the impact of a low-fat diet and a high-fat diet on endothelial function. The American Heart Association recommends a "low-fat" diet of 30% calories from fat. Atkins recommends a low-carbohydrate diet that has lots more fat. In this study, the researchers randomized the participants to eat either the AHA recommendations or the Atkins diet. They kept total calories the same for the two groups.

Both groups lost about the same amount of weight. The researchers then measured their endothelial function by brachial flow mediated dilation, an accepted marker of endothelial function. They found that it was the low-fat group that had significant improvement in their endothelial function. This is a measure of the ability of your arteries to dilate.

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If the AHA "low fat" diet beats Atkins high-fat diet in terms of endothelial function, think of what a lower-fat diet can do. Pritikin and Ornish have proven it out that a 10% dietary fat intake is optimal. Atkins helps you lose weight. But the hidden cost to you may be much higher than the excess pounds. High fat is not the way to go.

The reason olive oil helps your arteries is not the fat content. It's the polyphenol content. That's why you shouldn't eat a lot of any fat. There's just not enough polyphenols in a high-fat diet to keep your arteries healthy. You'll find an abundance of polyphenols in plant foods, not most high-fat foods. So stick to a diet high in veggies and fruits. You'll see the pounds drop off – and your arteries won't clog from too much fat.


"Benefit of low-fat over low-carbohydrate diet on endothelial health in obesity," Phillips SA, Jurva JW, et al, Hypertension, 2008; 51(2): 376-82.

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