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High-Fat Diets Actually Help the Heart, Study Finds

File this one in the “goes against everything we’ve been told” file.

A recent study published in American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology suggests that a high-fat diet is OK and even beneficial for the heart. The study, which looked at cardiac function in patients suffering from heart failure, found that that a high-fat diet improved the heart’s ability to pump, along with boosting cardiac insulin resistance (which reduces the risk of diabetes). Sounds pretty different than what we’ve been told all along right? That eating too much fat is bad for the heart?

Not so fast. According to the study which was  funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the Case Center for Imaging Research, all fats are not created equal. In fact, a balanced diet that includes mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and which replaces simple sugars and highly processed foods with complex carbs, are most beneficial for damaged hearts. Notice what wasn’t on that list of a healthy diet? Trans fats or saturated fats.

“Does that mean I can go out and eat my Big Mac after I have a heart attack?” says Dr. Margaret Chandler, study researcher and assistant professor of physiology and biophysics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in a press release about the high-fat study. ”No. But treatments that act to provide sufficient energy to the heart and allow the heart to utilize or to maintain its normal metabolic profile may actually be advantageous.”

Because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, this new research is a game-changer. While more research is needed, scientists believe that because the heart is receiving more fat, it is forced to use the fats as its preferred energy source, which helps with insulin resistance. Most importantly — and contrary to previously held beliefs — a state of insulin-resistance might actually be beneficial to a failing heart, according to the study.

Interesting, right? Want to learn more about the benefits of healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats? Check out these three healthy fats you should be eating!

May 10th, 2011

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