Heart Healthy Hoax

Agribusiness is a generic term for the various businesses involved in food production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing, and retail sales (source). Like any industry, it’s goal is to make a profit regardless of what their products do to consumers. This industry, like others has their catch phrases to assist in selling food. The dairy industry tells us, “Milk it does a body good.” But does it? For the meat lovers, you can chew on “Pork. The other white meat.” How about packaging and chefs promoting “heart healthy” olive oil?

One of the most overused slogans I have started paying attention to since changing my diet has been foods labeled, “heart healthy.” Wherever you look, you will see food flying this label, especially oil, including olive oil. I wrote about this before in Healthy Oil is a Myth. Watch television or listen to radio programing centered around food and you will see and hear foods being “heart healthy.” At a prior point in my life I fell for this slogan thinking the ingredients used in my cooking were just that, good for my heart. Unfortunately, medical testing and blood work told a far different story. Oil is just one of the contributing factors in an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States (source).
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity (source).
  • More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese (source).
  • In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight (source).

In the United States our diet is characterized by high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, and refined grains.It also typically contains high-fat dairy products, high-sugar drinks,and higher intakes of processed meat (source). Yet advertising and agribusiness continue to push unhealthy food choices on the American public. This diet pattern has been pushed on individuals by groups like the USDA, who are in bed with agribusiness. These groups promote a healthy lifestyle by promoting unhealthy foods.

I agree with Jeff Novick, MS, RD who says, “We get all the fats we need in their unrefined unprocessed form as part of the whole food plant based diet.” Why add oil when you don’t need to?

Take this example, a pound of steamed kale is 125 calories and is 1.4% saturated fat. Adding 1 tsp. of oil would raise the total calories from 125 to 165 and 25% of the calories would now be coming from the oil. In addition, in regard to saturated fat, by adding in the olive oil, the side dish is now 5% saturated fat (source).

What suddenly makes this dish “heart healthy” by adding oil? It doesn’t, oil adds no flavor to a dish, but will increase the size of your waistline since many American’s can’t eat in moderation (Read I can’t…). I won’t tell you what or how to eat, that is up to you. Americans, especially need to take control of their diet and their health as medical costs continue to spiral out of control and obesity continues to increase with no end in sight.

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