The American Heart Association Is Invading My Workplace

If you’ve seen Fat Head, you know I’m no fan of the American Heart Association, which has been one of the leaders of anti-saturated-fat hysteria ever since Ancel Keys joined their board of directors.  I’ve heard rumors that they’re changing their tune on saturated fat … but if so, you certainly can’t tell by reading their web site.  Here are some dietary guidelines I pulled from the site today:

  • Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day
  • Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total energy intake

Eat your mutant grains and avoid saturated fats, folks.  And in case those general guidelines aren’t enough for you, they also offer specific shopping advice:

  • Select fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Choose fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses.
  • Use egg whites or egg substitutes instead of egg yolks. (Substitute two egg whites for each egg yolk in recipes that call for eggs.)
  • Choose soft margarines that contain “0 grams trans fat” instead of buying butter. (These  margarines usually come in tubs.)
  • Choose cuts of red meat and pork labeled “loin” and “round”; they usually have the least fat.
  • Buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime,” and be sure to trim off the fat before cooking.
  • When buying or eating poultry, choose the leaner light meat (breasts) rather than the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs). Try the skinless version or remove the skin yourself.
  • When you must use oils for cooking, baking or in dressings or spreads, choose the ones lowest in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol — including canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil.
  • Stay away from palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. Even though they are vegetable oils and have no cholesterol, they’re high in saturated fats.

Great advice:  skip most of the fats created by Mother Nature and go for the chemically-processed frankenfats instead.  Yes, the key to heart health is to buy a tub of canola-oil margarine.  That’s why heart disease was at such a screamingly high rate 100 years ago – we didn’t have the industrial technology back then to extract gray, foul-smelling oily mush from rapeseeds and turn it into dedeodorized, artificially-colored, artificially-flavored margarine.

Naturally, the site also encourages shoppers to look for the Heart Association’s seal of approval, which they’ll happily put on any low-fat processed grain food if the manufacturers are willing to pony up the license fee.

Thanks to their lousy advice, I believe the quacks at the American Heart Association have caused more heart attacks than they’ve prevented.  So imagine my amusement when I received this email at my job:

Lace up your sneakers and please make plans to join us on Saturday, October 1, for the Heart Walk — the American Heart Association’s premiere event that brings communities together to raise funds and celebrate progress in the fight against this country’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, heart  disease and stroke.  This year’s walk will start at Vanderbilt University at 8 AM with fun activities planned throughout the day for you and your family members – even your four-legged family members!  And we have a month of fun activities leading up to the Heart Walk including those listed below.  More specific information regarding each will be provided closer to time.

September 5 – heart sale:

We will sell hearts for a nominal donation that can be made in memory or honor of a loved one, and the hearts will be posted in the break room for the month of September.  All donations will be contributed to American Heart Association.

Awesome idea.  We should definitely post the names of everyone who died of a heart attack while following the AHA’s dietary advice.  Sort of a wall of shame.

September 12 — lunch and learn: Hosted by American Heart Association.

Lunch?  Too bad it’s not breakfast … then we could all snarf down some Frosted Mini-Wheats or one of the other sugary cereals that sport the AHA’s seal of approval.

September 19 — health fair:

American Heart Association will participate in our annual health fair, scheduled for September 21, by hosting an informative booth.  Be sure to stop by!

Only if I’m carrying a concealed weapon.  But wait … here’s the best activity of all … wait for it …

September 26 — bake sale:

Team members are encouraged to bring in baked goods that will be sold for a nominal amount, with all proceeds donated to American Heart Association.  Get creative and bring in copies of your recipe if you’re willing to share.  Heart healthy recipes encouraged, but not required!

Now you’re talking.  Bring in some sugary grain-based foods and sell them, then give the money to the American Heart Association so they can do a better of job of telling us to eat more grains.

But since heart-healthy recipes are encouraged, maybe I’ll participate after all.  I’ll bring a big pan of baked bacon.

* Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day
* Fish (preferably oily fish): At least two 3.5-ounce servings a week
* Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day
* Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day
* Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week

Other Dietary Measures:

* Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings a week
* Processed meats: No more than 2 servings a week
* Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total energy intake

Select fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk.

Avoid milk that contains added flavorings such as vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. They usually

have added sugars and calories.

Choose fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses.

Use egg whites or egg substitutes instead of egg yolks. (Substitute two egg whites for each egg

yolk in recipes that call for eggs.)

Choose soft margarines that contain “0 grams trans fat” instead of buying butter. (These

margarines usually come in tubs.)

Stay away from fried fish. It’s usually high in fat — often trans fat.

Choose cuts of red meat and pork labeled “loin” and “round”; they usually have the least fat.

Buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime,” and be sure to trim off the fat

before cooking.

When buying or eating poultry, choose the leaner light meat (breasts) rather than the fattier

dark meat (legs and thighs). Try the skinless version or remove the skin yourself.

When you must use oils for cooking, baking or in dressings or spreads, choose the ones lowest in

saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol — including canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower

oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil.

Stay away from palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. Even though they are

vegetable oils and have no cholesterol, they’re high in saturated fats

If you’ve seen Fat Head, you know I’m no fan of the American Heart Association, which has been one of the leaders of anti-saturated-fat hysteria ever since Ancel Keys joined their board of directors.  I’ve heard rumors that they’re changing their tune on saturated fat, but if so, you certainly can’t tell by reading their web site.  Here are some gems of dietary guidlines I pulled from the site today:

Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day
Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total energy intake

Eat your grains and avoid saturated fats.  And in case those general guidelines aren’t enough for you, they also offer specific shopping advice:

Select fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk.
Choose fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses.
Use egg whites or egg substitutes instead of egg yolks. (Substitute two egg whites for each egg yolk in recipes that call for eggs.)
Choose soft margarines that contain “0 grams trans fat” instead of buying butter. (These  margarines usually come in tubs.)
Choose cuts of red meat and pork labeled “loin” and “round”; they usually have the least fat.
Buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime,” and be sure to trim off the fat before cooking.
When buying or eating poultry, choose the leaner light meat (breasts) rather than the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs). Try the skinless version or remove the skin yourself.
When you must use oils for cooking, baking or in dressings or spreads, choose the ones lowest in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol — including canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil.
Stay away from palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. Even though they are vegetable oils and have no cholesterol, they’re high in saturated fats.

Great advice:  skip most of the fats created by Mother Nature and go for the chemically-extracted frankenfats instead.  Yes, the key to heart health is to buy a tub of canola-oil margarine.  That’s why heart disease was at such a screamingly high rate 100 years ago – we didn’t have the industrial technology back then to turn rapeseeds into margarine.

Naturally, the site also encourages shoppers to look for the Heart Association’s seal of approval, which they’ll happily put on any low-fat processed grain food if the manufacturers are willing to pony up the license fee.

In short, I believe the American Heart Association has caused more heart attacks than it’s prevented.  So imagine my amusement when I received this email at my job:

Lace up your sneakers and please make plans to join us on Saturday, October 1, for the Heart Walk — the American Heart Association’s premiere event that brings communities together to raise funds and celebrate progress in the fight against this country’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers, heart  disease and stroke.  This year’s walk will start at Vanderbilt University at 8 AM with fun  activities planned throughout the day for you and your family members – even your four-legged family members!  And we have a month of fun activities leading up to the Heart Walk including those listed below.  More specific information regarding each will be provided closer to time.

September 5 – heart sale:

We will sell hearts for a nominal donation that can be made in memory or honor of a loved one, and the hearts will be posted in the break room for the month of September.  All donations will be contributed to American Heart Association.

Awesome idea.  We should definitely post the names of everyone who died of a heart attack while following the AHA’s dietary advice.  Sort of a wall of shame.

September 12 — lunch and learn:   Hosted by American Heart Association.

Lunch?  Too bad it’s not breakfast … then we could all snarf down some Frosted Mini-Wheats or one of the other sugary cereals that sports the AHA’s seal of approval.

September 19 — health fair:

American Heart Association will participate in our annual health fair, scheduled for September 21, by hosting an informative booth.  Be sure to stop by!

Only if I’m carrying a concealed weapon.  But wait … here’s the best activity of all.

September 26 — bake sale:

Team members are encouraged to bring in baked goods that will be sold for a nominal amount, with all proceeds donated to American Heart Association.  Get creative and bring in copies of your recipe if you’re willing to share.  Heart healthy recipes encouraged, but not required!

Now you’re talking.  Bring in some grain-based foods and sell them, then give the money to the American Heart Association so they can do a better of job of telling us to eat more grains.

Since heart-healthy recipes are encouraged, maybe I’ll participate after all.  I’ll bring a big pan of baked bacon.

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75 thoughts on “The American Heart Association Is Invading My Workplace

  1. Keiralee

    the AHA will never admit they got it wrong as that would imply liability for all the health issues that followed. Liability= open to law suits.
    Wouldnt that be nice though….. lets all sue the AHA for all the years of stress, poor health and death of family members!! Class action anyone?!?

    That’s part of the problem indeed. They can’t admit they were wrong without inviting lawsuits.

    Reply
    1. zebonaut

      Seriously YES -Class action lawsuit against the AHA; which prompted me to eat my “healthy whole grains” for years and years. Thanks for the type 2 diabetes; the multiple root canals; the irritable bowel syndrome; and the obesity. All of which are now vanished thanks to going on a high saturated fat; no grains/carbs, plenty of veggies diet. Humans did not evolve to eat much in the way of carbohydrates except for natural vegetables. This is medicines most embarassing chapter, and we are not amused.

      Reply
  2. Kyle

    Just saw on CNN a whole program on Heart Attacks and how cholesterol causes them. When can we expect them to swallow their pride and admit the wrong they’ve done? Isn’t enough…enough? Working for the federal government, I’ve seen how they manage other government programs and I would never trust them to tell me what to eat, do, say, etc. No matter what my recommendation is at my my job, no matter how much common sense it makes, nothing EVER changes. This is a perfect example of how big government perpetually fails us and why our nation was supposed to have a small government which does not meddle in our daiy lives in the first place.

    Amen.

    Reply
  3. Dave, RN

    My home health agency participates in the Heartwalk every year, prints t-shirts etc. I’ve never gone. I just can’t bring myself to support the AHA and their counter productive advice. Our patients suffer this advice and it’s sad.

    Reply
  4. Peggy Cihocki

    @Be and @Dragonmamma/Naomi, I wrote a comment on that site, too. Bet it doesn’t show up. Amongst other things (yes, I was politely disdainful), I said I defy them to show the science that says we need 6 servings of whole grains every day.
    @James Birdsall, “I then asked him which was the fad diet, the one that humanity thrived on for a ten thousand years or the one that was pushed by a politician from North Dakota 30 years ago?” I love that. Going to have to remember it. But it’s more than ten thousand years–more like millions of years, no?
    Tom, I can only offer my sympathies for having to deal with this nonsense for a whole month. I can’t imagine.

    I’ll be cheerfully ignoring the AHA booths.

    Reply
  5. robin

    Oh My…Just listened to an intereview on Talk Back radio (NZ) with a doctor regarding cholesterol.

    I listened to three minutes and couldn’t take anymore after he said that LDL was the bad cholesterol that can be controlled by “all those wonderful little drugs how out there now”, and HDL was unaffected by what we ate, but was affected by physical exercise, smoking and obesity.
    I was seeing red by the time he got onto triglycerides so I have no idea what he said about them. ARGH.

    And that’s why people are so confused.

    Reply
  6. Firebird

    As per Dr. Greg Ellis’ suggestion, I butter my steak. That was a criticism. I didn’t have ENOUGH fat in my diet.

    Reply
  7. Linda

    @Kyle
    I do watch CNN quite a bit, I do like Anderson Cooper, and I wish he would do some investigative reporting on the whole low fat/low calories/whole grain agenda and expose so many of these lies. I suppose if he went up against the CNN establishment, however, especially Dr. Gupta, he’d be out of a job. They are repeating “The Last Heart Attack” over and over! I refuse to watch it.

    Reply
  8. Blanche

    The American Heart Association is very useful, it helps the American Cancer Society. The diet that is being recommended will see to it that most Americans will be supporting the pharmaceutical industry. This is the America way.

    I think there is a patrnership between these agencies, food manufacturers and big pharma.

    Wouldn’t surprise me, but I attribute it to inertia.

    Reply
  9. Patricia

    “That’s part of the problem indeed. They can’t admit they were wrong without inviting lawsuits.”

    How about if they admit they were wrong and then hurry up, dissolve the organization and file bankruptcy? Isn’t that what any other corrupt company does? At least we could start over and re-educate the public.

    Okay, I’m dreamin’.

    (Have you seen Dr. Davis’ open letter to the Grain Foods Foundation?) : )

    It’s a good dream, but a dream.

    Reply
  10. Dwatney

    I had been going back and forth as to whether to participate in the Heart Walk this year. I figured they must do something worthwhile, but screw ’em! Maybe I’ll just double my donation for the breast cancer walk instead.

    Raising money for the Heart Association isn’t going to do diddly to prevent heart disease.

    Reply
  11. Karen J

    I agree with the commenters who have suggested eating the opposite of what the AHA recommends. I propose the following:

    AHA: “Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day.”
    Me: No grains.

    AHA: “Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total energy intake”
    Me: Shoot for 60-65%… or more

    AHA: “Select fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk. Choose fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses.”
    Me: Stay away from low fat dairy, if you eat dairy.

    AHA: “Use egg whites or egg substitutes instead of egg yolks. (Substitute two egg whites for each egg yolk in recipes that call for eggs.)”
    Me: Use extra yolks whenever possible and stay away from pretend eggs.

    AHA: “Choose soft margarines that contain “0 grams trans fat” instead of buying butter. (These margarines usually come in tubs.)”
    Me: Only eat real butter and natural fats. Stay away from the frankenfats!

    AHA: “Choose cuts of red meat and pork labeled “loin” and “round”; they usually have the least fat.”
    Me: RIBEYE…BACON…Slow roasted PORK BELLY… Pick the fattiest meats possible.

    AHA: Buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime,” and be sure to trim off the fat before cooking.
    Me: Get the fattiest grass fed meat you can find and don’t throw away any fat.

    AHA: “When buying or eating poultry, choose the leaner light meat (breasts) rather than the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs). Try the skinless version or remove the skin yourself.”
    Me: Confit of Duck legs with demi glaze… Stay away from anything “boneless” and/or “skinless”. If you are stuck with a boneless, skinless piece of meat or poultry, stuff it with as much fat as you can, then put butter on top.

    AHA: “When you must use oils for cooking, baking or in dressings or spreads, choose the ones lowest in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol — including canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil.
    Me: Eat lots of duck fat, lard, tallow, coconut oil, butter.

    AHA: “Stay away from palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. Even though they are vegetable oils and have no cholesterol, they’re high in saturated fats.”
    Me: Use those fats as much as you like.

    See? Opposite.:)

    Sad but true. To be healthy, we almost have to do the opposite of everything the “experts” suggest.

    Reply
  12. Ricardo

    Hi Tom. I was just wondering is Inflammation behind virtually every disease and if so how can we treat inflammation? Also is it true that Carbohydrates can raise Triglyceride levels and if so are they more dangerous than LDL or VLDL. Ive read that they often get ignored because people focus on Cholesterol. Also i thought you might be interesting in this Cholesterol Myth Video. I think the American Heart Association needs to see it. Wonder what they would think in the face of all this evidence?

    I don’t think anything will convince the AHA to change their position. They’re too entrenched.

    Inflammation appears to be an upstream cause of many diseases, but I wouldn’t say it causes all of them. We can avoid inflammation to a large degree by avoiding sugars, grains, and unnatural oils.

    Reply
  13. Dwatney

    Our local Heart Walk comes within a couple blocks of my house. Maybe I should have a refreshment stand giving out healthy snacks like … BACON!!

    Now you’re talking.

    Reply
  14. Ricardo

    Hmm Berry Sears says even though diseases like Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes and Alzheimer’s are different they are all the result of one thing Inflammation which is attacking the organs i believe. This is really interesting cause years ago it used to be about cholesterol now its slowly turning to inflammation.

    Reply
  15. Nowhereman

    Sigh, another diet writer gets it only partly right:

    http://health.yahoo.net/comments/3396/list

    “3. Lean protein. It sends stronger “I’m full” signals to your brain than carbs or fat do. Aim for 20 grams in meals (half a skinless chicken breast has 27 g), 10 g in snacks (a cup of edamame packs 17 g).”

    Obviously the good is low-carb. The bad; no fats, meaning no saturated fats. It’s the sat fats that help make you feel full for many hours on end, not just the protein.

    The rest seems to be another “if you cut calories, you’ll lose weight” starve yourself gradually message. Not sure that’s a good thing.

    They just can’t get past the idea that fat is bad for us.

    Reply
  16. Pam

    The elementary schools in this area have Jump-rope-a-thons to raise money for the AHA and I make a nominal donation so my kids won’t feel left out. Usually they get junky plastic stuff as rewards for the amount of jump-roping they do, but I guess one year the phys-ed teacher thought this wasn’t incentive enough and handed out bags of Hershey’s Kisses as well. Kinda makes you wonder what goes on in some peoples’ heads…

    Ugh.

    Reply
  17. Maria

    It’s so true. The AHA and the other sellers of the same ol’ propaganda can’t ever back peddle. Not really. Their entire castle in the sky would topple because it floats on a false premise. I’m a bit bitter about it myself.

    It’s taken me years for my brain to partly figure out what my body had been trying to tell me. Every breakfast I ate heart healthy, lowcal, fat free, and sugar free cereals, toast, or pancakes (with lots of healthy fruit and low fat milk, OJ and just egg whites and low cal margerine.

    I’d feel hungry within an hour while still feeling “stuffed” and lethargic. Then I’d get sleepy about mid morning. I couldn’t figure out why, despite eating healthy and watching calories and fat and maintaining my activity levels I was steadily gaining weight. “What’s up, Doc?” “Cut more fat.” “WHAT FAT? There’s none left?” So I flipped the assumption, did a ton of research (that’s when I found this site, amongst many.)

    Now, a small cup of hearty breakfast stew made with a bit of fatty meat, low carb veggies and herbs and spices. It’s amazing. I don’t get the “energy” spike and it keeps me going. An egg, jerky, or nuts for a snack. Lunch… Avocado, fish, oils, nuts, teas, meat, veggies, dairy, cabbage, and of course fiber…. Also a wee bit of fruit and alcohol here and there… 😉

    I FEEL good after these foods. It’s hard to describe but both my mind and body feel right. And the great thing is that with increased activity I’ve been slowly losing weight without feeling hungry all the time, my blood tests are better then before, and I don’t have cravings. I wonder if cravings are a big sign of unhealthy foods?

    Still not there 100% but I’ve almost cut out breads and pastas. I’m working on limiting fruits ever since I realized that my body craves the sweetness… not the nutrition! External sweeteners are gone, and so is juice. That was hard. 🙁

    Good meat is still expensive so I still eat whole grains. But I stick to the oldest ones like quinoa, millet, chia, flax, amaranth. And I usually sprout and combine with complimentary legumes and lots of tasty herbs and fats.

    Honestly, the AHA can, pardon my language, suck it.

    I share your anger with them.

    Reply
  18. kat

    “I still eat whole grains. But I stick to the oldest ones like quinoa, millet, chia, flax, amaranth. ”

    chia and flax are seeds, not grains

    Reply
  19. Nolan

    I know this is off topic, but what do you think of the Atkins diet? I’ve recently looked on amazon and I saw what I believed to be low carb pancakes. I don’t know about you but that seems like an oxymoron. And how does fiber reduce carbohydrate consumption in the body?

    The diet spelled out in the new book “A New Atkins for a New You” is a good one. Back when I was making Fat Head, the Atkins company was heavily promoting what I consider low-carb junk foods, stuff made from processed soy, etc. The new approach is focused more on real food.

    Reply
  20. zebonaut

    I followed the crappy scientific advice from those bastards; and ate my “healthy whole grains” low fat cereals and oatmeal and scraped the cheese off my pizza. They gave me a nice case of rampant tooth decay; thousands of dollars in dental work and prescription drugs with bad side effects; Obesity; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; and Type 2 Diabetes. Been paleo/low carb for 2 years; lost 90 lbs; feel great and energetic and light. Yes how about a class action law suit to pay for those extra crowns. Bad Science if there ever was.

    I think living well is the best revenge.

    Reply
  21. zebonaut

    Thank you “American Heart Association” for all the years of wheat induced bloated stomachs; IBS; type 2 diabetes; and three root canals, because of your misleading insistance; not to eat fat; and to eat cheap carbohydrate starch; instead; for ‘health’ which converts to high blood sugar, doesn’t cause proper satiety; and raises insulin to astonishing levels. I’ll agree to a class action lawsuit. The bad science is WORSE than EMBARASSING.

    Reply

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