Current Science vs. The Tainted History of Heart Healthy Nutrition How Common Advice is Wrong and Why You Should Know the Truth

Your first heart cells begin beating four weeks after conception and don’t stop until you take your last breath.

This coordinated effort happens 100,000 times a day, beat after beat, without rest.

Each time I lay my stethoscope over the heart’s pulsating chambers, I marvel at its faithful, steady beat.

As a medical weight loss specialist, my goal is to keep hearts ticking in top form. I share this goal with my patients, who cite heart health as one of their most powerful motivators for weight loss and overall health improvement.

While many factors influence heart health, none are talked about as much as food.

It’s for good reason: food is one of the most powerful substances that we put into our bodies. It can have both positive and negative effects on the heart.

I prescribe low carbohydrate eating because it has been proven to be optimal for heart health.

Low carbohydrate eating reduces or eliminates many of the risk factors for heart disease—type II diabetes, prediabetes, insulin resistance, elevated blood fats, elevated blood pressure, and inflammation. And it induces weight loss, which in itself is good for the heart.

It’s not just medical journals and professional presentations that prove these benefits—I see it every day in my clinical practice.

When patients reduce their intake of refined grains and added sugar and replace them with whole foods, I see reductions in:

  • Blood Sugar
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides
  • LDL Particles
  • Blood Pressure
  • Inflammation
  • Fatty Liver Disease

When people add meat, eggs, cheese, butter, olives, and nuts to their diets, their waists get smaller and they get healthier.

I know this flies in the face of the low-fat dogma that’s been pushed since the 1970s.

But a growing body of evidence suggests that low-fat, high carbohydrate eating is anything but “heart healthy.”

Two prominent physicians, Robert Lustig and David Ludwig have called it “an experiment that failed.”

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Another Nail in the Low-fat Coffin

He walked out onto the stage to give his talk, all 6 foot 7 inches of him. I noticed that he didn’t stand behind the podium, but walked in front of it. No jacket, with his sleeves rolled up. I liked his more casual approach.

The title of his presentation was “Update From Sweden.” Sure it was exciting that Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt had come all the way to Philadelphia just to speak at the American Society of Bariatric Physicians spring obesity conference, but how different could things be in Sweden?

After a full day of hearing more evidence about the clinical benefits of low-carb eating for those who are overweight or obese, I didn’t expect anything revolutionary. But always eager to learn, I gave him my full attention.

Using a clever chart in the shape of a pound of butter, he showed that butter consumption in Sweden decreased by 232% from 1985 to 2005. Just like Americans, the Swedes had been told that low-fat, high carb eating is the healthiest, particularly for those who are overweight or have high cholesterol, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes.

The chart also showed that during this period, obesity went up substantially. Just like it did in the U.S.

Nothing I didn’t already know. Bad medical advice can cross oceans and be kept alive for decades anywhere.

A photo of a smiling Swedish woman wearing a white lab coat flashed up on the screen. Dr. Annika Dahlqvist was one of the first physicians in Sweden to prescribe low carb diets to her type 2 diabetes patients.

Her results were amazing, with person after person losing weight and improving diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a host of other chronic medical conditions.

No wonder she was smiling.

Despite these spectacular results, some dieticians reported her to Sweden’s National Board of Health for using a “fad diet” that veered from traditional practice. An official investigation was launched.

“Oh great,” I thought. “This is just what I needed to hear. Another doctor vilified for not following conventional practice, even if it’s not based on science.”

I went back to knitting my scarf, but continued to listen. I just couldn’t bear to see what was coming up next.

“After a thorough investigation, including an extensive review of the medical literature, the Swedish investigation committee concluded that…”

I looked up and there he was, hammer in one hand, big shiny nail in the other, poised to deliver his first blow.

“Low-carb diets can be seen as compatible with scientific evidence and best practice for weight reduction for patients with overweight or type 2 diabetes.”


“25% of Swedes now eat low-carb and obesity in Sweden is decreasing.”


“Sweden had a butter shortage in 2011.”


Now I get why Dr. Dahlqvist’s smile was so big.

For nearly a decade I have recommended low-carb diets to my overweight and obese patients and have had the same results as Dr. Dahlqvist: Weight loss and improvement of metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and numerous other chronic conditions.

Although the evidence wasn’t new to me, discovering that things had improved so dramatically for an entire country was BIG news to me.

And it gave me hope that our medical system will finally retire the harmful low-fat dogma that was never based on science and recommend evidence-based low-carb diets as treatment for overweight and obese persons.

The story continues…

The Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Healthcare—an independent governmental agency—spent two years examining the evidence for low-carb diets.

In October 2013 they issued their report: Dietary Treatment for Obesity: A Systematic Review of the Literature.

They concluded that low-carb diets are more effective than low-fat diets for reducing weight, lowering glucose levels, and improving cardiovascular risk markers.

For more details about this report, check out Dr. Eenfeldt’s blog.


Do you think it’s time to lower the coffin into the ground?

Please visit my blog and tell me what you think.

If you’ve had success with eating low-carb, I’d like to hear about your experience.

Upcoming Engagements:
  • American Association of Physicians Assistants National Conference, May 18-22, 2019, Denver, CO
    How to Talk to Patients About Weight, co-presenting with Amy Ingersoll, PA-C
    The Art & Science of Prescribing Anti-Obesity Medications, co-presenting with Amy Ingersoll, PA-C
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference, June 18-23, Indianapolis, IN
    How to Talk to Patients About Weight
    The Art & Science of Prescribing Anti-Obesity Medications
  • Alaska Nurse Practitioner Conference, Anchorage, Alaska, September 19-21
    How to Talk to Patients About Weight
    The Art & Science of Prescribing Anti-Obesity Medications
  • Association for Counseling Education & Supervision 2019 Conference,Seattle, WA, October 10-13
    Co-presenting with Katie Christensen, MA, LPCA, NCC
    Recognizing & Reducing Weight Bias in Counselor Education & Supervision
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