Diet, Heart Health

Heart Disease and Bad Science

One American out of every four over age 40 is now taking a statin drug, believing it is necessary to avoid heart disease. Dr. David Diamond, a professor of Psychology, Molecular Pharmacology, and Physiology at the University of South Florida and a research career scientist at the Tampa VA Hospital, says that is just bad science. In a recent interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola, Diamond recounted how his personal experience led him to that conclusion.

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Diamond took a medical exam to qualify for life insurance. He learned his triglyceride level was 750 (the recommended level ranges from below 100 to a high of 150), and his HDL (the “good cholesterol”) was 20 to 25 (doctors recommend a level above 40 or 50). He was told he was at 15 times higher risk of heart attack as compared to someone with optimal lipids. His doctor suggested exercise, and encouraged him to follow the American Heart Association recommended low-fat diet.

Six months later, his numbers had not improved. After five years of compliance, his doctor sat him down and said, “Okay the time has come. You’ve done your best, but diet and exercise just haven’t worked for you. It’s time for you to go on medication.” He recommended a statin drug.

Before filling the prescription, Dr. Diamond embarked on his own research project. he says:

Well, the very first paper I looked at indicated that triglycerides are primarily produced from excess carbohydrates, particularly glucose and fructose. And as far as HDL levels, you see an association of low HDL levels in people who have high blood sugar.

There was an obvious connection of carbohydrates in the diet to triglycerides and HDL. I was astounded by this. This was the first of many epiphanies I’ve had while studying cholesterol, diet, and heart disease.

I figured that what I needed to do is not to avoid the fat; I should avoid the carbohydrates!

The few studies he initially read, and the thousands more he has read since, convinced him of the relationship between carbohydrate consumption, high blood sugar, and triglycerides. He decided to reduce his non-vegetable carbohydrates, and he stopped worrying about saturated fat. After remaining static for five years, his triglycerides plunged from 800 to 150, and his HDL increased from 30 to 50. These changes were accomplished with diet alone.

Weighing in with his own experience, Dr. Mercola said he had treated many patients whose triglycerides were as high as 1,500 to 2,000. By cutting back on carbs, these patients were able to achieve a drastic reduction.

Dr. Mercola emphasized, “So the really good news about high triglycerides is that you can achieve rapid reversal by changing your diet.”