New study shows animal fat, dairy raise heart disease risk
An August 30 report in the “Breaking Medical News” segment of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) cited a study showing that replacing animal fats with plant-based foods decreases a person’s risk for developing heart disease.
The study, published online on Aug. 24 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looks closer at dairy fat and the risk of cardiovascular diseases in 3 cohorts of US adults (Chen M, Li Y, Sun Q, et. al).
Researchers followed 222,234 participants from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study I and II, and monitored dietary fat intake and cardiovascular disease incidence rates. The results showed that replacing 5 percent of dairy fat with an equal amount of vegetable and polyunsaturated fats decreased heart disease risk by 10 percent and 24 percent, respectively.
Researchers also observed a 28-, 34- and 16-percent lowered risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke, respectively, when participants replaced dairy fat with whole grains.
Changes in mortality
A British Medical Journal study titled “Changes in risk factors explain changes in mortality from ischemic heart disease in Finland” by E. Vartiainen, P. Puska et al., covered 29,000 Finnish men and women over a 20-year period. When these individuals lowered the cholesterol in their diets, lowered their blood pressure and stopped their tobacco use, they reduced their heart attack risk by more than half.
PCRM says cholesterol is found in all foods that come from animals: red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and every other meat and dairy product. Choosing lean cuts of meat, it says, is not enough; the cholesterol is mainly in the lean portion.
PCRM also adds that chicken contains as much cholesterol as beef, as every four-ounce serving of beef or chicken contains 100 mg of cholesterol. Also, most shellfish are high in cholesterol. On the other hand, PCRM observes that no foods from plants contain cholesterol.
Avoiding animal meat
In a previous interview with Inquirer, former health secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, in line with his advocacy that he terms as “How to be Healthy at Any Age: 12 Steps to Achieve It,” stressed that avoiding animal meat, especially processed meat; animal milk and milk products like butter and shellfish—tahong,talaba, tulya, alimango, alimasag, shrimps, prawns and lobsters.
Dr. Neil Nedley, MD, author of “Proof Positive,” said, “The three most important modifiable heart disease risk factors are cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”
The PCRM is suggesting that people try the 21-day vegan kickstart program, which can be seen at http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome/mealplan/week-1. It also advised individuals to search for support groups that would help them kick the meat habit.
There is also a growing number of groups advocating the plant-based diet and lifestyle. Check out vegan dishes and vegan communities in Facebook pages. For Filipino readers, there are support groups like Manila Vegans, Cebu Vegans, Vegetarian Society of the Philippines, Vegetarian in the Philippines, and The Real Happy Cow Facebook pages. For access to a global vegan and vegetarian restaurant directory online, log on to happycow.net.
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