​​ ​Dr. Farkouh Michael Cardiologist at UHN
Dr. Michael Farkouh says the effort to cut saturated fat has increased consumption of carbohydrates and refined sugar: “We replace one problem with a bigger problem.” (Photo: UHN)


Contrary to popular belief among doctors and patients, cutting saturated fat doesn't decrease the risk of heart disease. 

An editorial from the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that there's no association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease, and no benefits from reducing fat in a diet. Instead of a "low-fat" diet, the journal recommends following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil and nuts. 

Dr. Michael Farkouh, cardiologist, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, recently spoke about the misconceptions around saturated fat and how patients can reduce their risk of heart disease. 

"What this editorial entertains is something that we've known for a long time – that the process of the hardening of the arteries is multi-factorial and is often triggered by injury to the vessel wall either by hypertension, smoking, or some inflammatory process,"  Dr. Farkouh told Calgary Today.  

The effort to cut saturated fat has led to an increased consumption of carbohydrates and refined sugar. As a result of this diet, the body develops a resistance to insulin which causes inflammation of the blood vessels. According to Dr. Farkouh, this has led to today’s diabetes epidemic.


“The only thing worse than a high fat diet is one that is high in carbohydrates and refined sugar, which triggers this metabolic syndrome that we call ‘insulin resistance,’” said Dr. Farkouh. “We replace one problem with a bigger problem.”

He emphasizes that moderation is the key to the healthiest lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, and poultry, with fats in moderation, is one that’s been proven to reduce disease and also the easiest to follow.

“We're now thinking more and more that food can be used ‘as a medicine,’” said Dr. Farkouh. “It's the refined sugars, the soft drinks, the processed foods, that has led to the problem we're in today and I don't think that's much of a surprise to anyone.”

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