As many of you know, for heart-healthy eating I always encouraged limiting carbohydrates. That's because your body converts them to sugar, which leads to inflammation and heart issues. I even co-authored a book on that subject, called Sugar Shock! But in the past two years, two researchers in the world of nutritional science motivated me to increase my carbohydrate-slashing enthusiasm even more.
The first convincing evidence came from Dr. William Davis, author of the book Wheat Belly. His mantra is “lose the wheat, lose the weight.” His advice was motivated by the fact that our modern-day wheat contains gliadine, a protein from gluten, which has an opiate-like effect in the body—causing you to crave more wheat.
Dr. Gary Taubes reinforced Davis’ message for me when he lectured about extreme limitations on your daily carbohydrate intake, which may make sense if your goal is weight loss. But if you’re going to reduce carbohydrates that severely, it’s important to not replace those calories with protein because high-protein diets can rely heavily on animal protein sources. Animal proteins may be laced with dangerous insecticides, pesticides, and radiation—all of which can set you up for cancer and heart problems down the road.
Heart-Healthy Eating Includes Fats
For years, the common wisdom for heart-healthy eating was to limit your overall fat intake to keep your heart healthy. But what we’ve learned that there is such a thing as heart-healthy fats. Plus heart-healthy fats aren't just okay for you—they’re critical to your heart, brain, and overall health.
That point was driven home for me by Dr. Miguel Gonzalez, when I heard him speak at the 2013 American College of Nutrition Conference. He addressed the health-promoting advantages of the Mediterranean diet—and particularly olive oil and mixed nuts. His study, called PREDIMED, found that a diet rich in olive oil or tree nuts reducing cardiovascular events. Plus, subsequent research found that a higher fat diet helps to prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.
Given all of this positive research, I’ve bumped up my intake of heart-healthy fats and slashed my carbohydrate recommendations even more.
So, My Newest Dietary Recommendations for a Heart-Healthy Diet Are:
- 40-45% slow-burning, low-glycemic carbohydrates (mostly low glycemic fruits and veggies)
- 20-25% protein (eggs, fish, poultry)
- 30-35% healthy fats (avocado, nuts, coconut, and extra virgin olive oils)
Also, remember to buy organic produce whenever possible, and meats that are grass-fed and free of chemicals. I now eat meat that has a bit of visible fat marbling in it if I know it is organically raised. But non-organic meats most likely contain herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides, and hormones stored in the fat, in which case I trim the visible fat off.
The same goes for fish. Trim the darker meat off any fish that is not described as wild, line-caught, or fresh-caught in clean waters. Farm-raised fish contain dyes and possibly polluted water runoff, so I steer clear of them.
Now, it’s your turn: For heart-healthy eating, have you reduced carbohydrates and increased your fat intake?