New Study Says: Cholesterol-Lowering Statins Overrated for Preventing Heart Attacks! Healthy Lifestyle, Diet and Weight Control Important!
By Steve Blechman
On Monday, March 14, 2022, United Press International (UPI) reported that, “The effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering medications in reducing a person's risk for heart disease depends on their underlying risk for heart problems, an analysis published Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine found.”
“In other words, being overweight, smoking and having high blood pressure can increase a person's risk for heart disease, heart attack or stroke, and their risk may remain high even if their cholesterol is controlled with prescription drugs,” the researchers said.
So do statins prevent heart attacks? The new study in JAMA Internal Medicine found, “Based on data from 21 clinical trials of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, people taking these medications saw their risk for a heart attack or stroke drop by less than 1%, the data showed.”
“Statins are prescription drugs that, when combined with diet and exercise, can reduce blood levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, or so-called "bad cholesterol,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.
“Byrne and her colleagues analyzed data from 21 clinical trials of statins that collectively enrolled more than 130,000 participants.”
“Although the trials generally found that the drugs were effective at lowering bad cholesterol, and reduced the risk for heart attack and stroke in many of those taking them, the benefits for others were "marginal," Byrne said.
“The study suggests that the assumption of the 'lower the better' in terms of LDL cholesterol is not supported by the findings,” Byrne said.
“This was particularly true for those who did not make lifestyle changes in conjunction with statin treatment, such as eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight,” she and her colleagues said.
For the fifth consecutive year, on January 4, 2022, U.S. News & World Report ranked the Mediterranean diet as the #1 Best Overall Diet, Best Heart-Healthy Diet, Easiest Diet to Follow and the Best Diet for Diabetes. “To determine the rankings, U.S. News convened an expert panel of the country’s top specialists in nutrition, diabetes, heart health and weight loss. Through an in-depth survey, 27 panelists scored 40 diets in seven areas, including ease of compliance, likelihood of losing significant weight in both the short and long term, and effectiveness against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
I have been an advocate of the Mediterranean diet for over 25 years. A healthy diet and lifestyle changes, such as following the Mediterranean Diet along with exercise, has been shown in the scientific research to safely prevent and lower the risk of gaining weight, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Many antioxidant foods rich in polyphenols are abundant in the Mediterranean diet, such as extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, nuts, red wine, tea, and coffee.
In a most recent study of more than 90,000 people who were followed for 28 years, published on Monday, January 10th in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Harvard researchers reported that “adding less than a tablespoon of olive oil to their diet lowers a person’s risk for death from heart or lung disease, as well as brain disorders and cancer.” (UPI)
UPI also reported, “Compared to participants who rarely or never consumed olive oil, those who added one-half tablespoon or more to their diet daily had a 19% lower risk for death from heart disease, the data showed.”
“This level of olive oil consumption was also associated with a 29% lower risk for death from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s, according to the researchers.”
“In addition, substituting 10 grams, or just under one tablespoon per day of olive for the same amount of margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy lowered a person's risk for early death from all causes by up to 34%, they said.”
The Mediterranean diet is high in fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to antioxidant-rich vegetables, red wine and berries rich in polyphenols, beans, lentils, nuts, legumes and extra-virgin-olive oil that are rich in healthy monounsaturated polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. A study by Harvard researchers and reported by the American Heart Association (March 5, 2020) and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (March 2020) found that as little as half a tablespoon of olive oil a day was linked to significant decrease in cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon have potent anti-inflammatory properties and reduced inflammation and protect against heart disease.
Research has shown that inflammation is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet can reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health (Nutrients, August 9, 2020). Sixteen years ago the ATTICA Study (J Am Coll Cardiol, July 2004) found that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 20% lower c-reactive protein (CRP) and 17% lower levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6). CRP and IL-6 are elevated in systemic inflammation in the body. This was an observational study and demonstrated an association but not proof of cause and effect like a randomized, double-blind clinical trial; also, a similar study a year later called the Nurses’ Cohort in the USA (Am J Clin Nut, July 2005) was associated to a 24% lower c-reactive protein and 16% lower levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6). These very well-conducted observational studies were later confirmed by a randomized clinical trial (PREDIMED pilot study). The Mediterranean diet, when supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil for three months and followed by adults, reduced C-reactive protein. The Mediterranean diet, as I mentioned, was supplemented with extra-virgin oil containing monounsaturated fats and polyphenols and lowered low-grade inflammation implicated in the mechanism leading to atherosclerotic disease (Nutr Metab, September 2014). The PREDIMED trial later involving 1,139 high-risk cardiovascular adults further confirmed a dose-dependent anti-inflammatory effect of the Mediterranean diet rich in polyphenols based on measuring inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 (Br J Clin Pharmaca, January 2017). A later study (CANTOS trial) found that a monoclonal antibody that reduces C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, and inflammation, further confirmed the inflammatory hypothesis in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease without lowering blood lipids (N Engel J Med, Jan 1999, Endocrinol Diabet Nutr, Nov 2017). The Mediterranean diet containing extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, and red wine is rich in polyphenols with potent anti-inflammatory properties.
A breakthrough, long-term diet study was published in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation on measuring body fat! This diet study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology for the first time, measuring changes in body and organ fat during 18 months on a Mediterranean/low-carb diet, with and without moderate physical exercise. MRI is a diagnostic technique that produces computerized images of organs and internal body tissues using a magnetic field and radio waves. This is the best approach to date for measuring body fat, compared to weighing people as a result of diet and exercise. The scale, skinfold calipers or underwater weighing are not giving you the whole picture!
The research was conducted between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Harvard University. The research group was led by Drs. Iris Shai, Yftach Gepner, Ilan Shelaf and Dan Schwarzfuchs from Ben-Gurion University. Dr. Meir Stampfer was also a lead author for the study, and is from the prestigious Harvard University. Dr. Stampfer is a well-known authority on nutrition and obesity. The study analyzed the implementation of positive dietary changes and how this could help in reducing body fat, particularly visceral (abdominal) body fat.
The Mediterranean low-carb diet was significantly superior to low-fat diet in decreasing fat storage, including visceral (deep abdominal) liver and heart fat. High visceral fat has been shown to increase metabolic syndrome, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Losing deep subcutaneous visceral fat, as well as haptic (liver) fat, was associated with improved insulin sensitivity and improved lipid profile.
The low-carb Mediterranean diet was more effective than a low-fat diet in eliminating fat storage. Previous studies have shown that a low-carb Mediterranean diet may be an effective alternative to low-fat diets. It has a more favorable effect on lipids (with low-carb diet) and glycemic control (with Mediterranean diet).
In a groundbreaking, two-year dietary intervention study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that the Mediterranean and low-carb diet was an effective alternative to weight loss. It appears to be just as safe, metabolically healthier and more effective compared to a low-fat diet. Consumption of monounsaturated fats (extra-virgin olive oil and nuts) is thought to improve insulin sensitivity, which may explain the favorable effect on blood glucose and insulin levels. Research has shown that nut consumption can enhance weight loss and weight gain (N Engl J Med, 2008).
People who strictly follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of the proportion of weight to height and waist circumference – according to a large population study led by Simona Bertoli from the Nutritional Research Center in Milan, Italy. The Mediterranean diet is high in fish, seafood, antioxidant-rich vegetables, red wine and berries rich in polyphenols, beans, lentils, nuts, legumes and extra-virgin-olive oil (EVOO) that are rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Extra-virgin olive oil contains a polyphenol called oleuropein and can increase brown fat thermogenesis.
Brown fat is a special kind of fat cell that generates heat and helps regulate bodyweight and energy expenditure. The body has two forms of fat – white fat and brown fat. Brown fat burns calories. The more brown fat you have, the more calories you burn. The capability of harnessing one’s one brown fat for fat burning is revolutionary! The ability to get lean by producing extra brown fat and enhancing and activating existing brown fat represents a promising way to burn fat. Several landmark discoveries and approaches to this are being explored at major research centers and universities worldwide, with great excitement. Brown fat research is a hot topic today!
The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution by Michael Rudolph, Ph.D. provides a calorie-controlled low-carb Mediterranean diet, 30-day meal plan and exercise program. It says that you should limit yourself to 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, or less. Processed food and sugar is off the table! The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution stresses foods high in monounsaturated and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also recommends thermogenic brown fat-activating herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor food such as garlic, onion, mustard and chili pepper (capsaicin) to name a few. The American Heart Association released a press release on November 9, 2020, which said: “Individuals who consume chili pepper may live longer and may have a significantly reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020. The meeting was a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science for health care worldwide.” The meeting was held virtually on November 13, 2020.
Monounsaturated fats are more thermogenic than saturated fats found in high-fat dairy and red meat. Because of ease of compliance, The ThermoHeat® Weight Loss Revolution Mediterranean Diet makes it easy to follow even when dining out. One or two glasses of polyphenol-rich red wine (not white wine, or any other alcoholic beverages) per day can have positive health benefits on the Mediterranean diet. Studies show that olive oil and certain spices can enhance brown fat and increase thermogenesis. A number of studies have shown that healthy fats from nuts, olive oil and fish, found predominantly in Italian, Greek, and Turkish cuisine, have health benefits in the prevention of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Fish oil and omega-3 fats can decrease bodyweight gain and fat accumulation by increasing thermogenesis and energy expenditure. (Clinical Nutrition, 2009; Metabolism - Clinical and Experimental, 2008; International Journal of Obesity, 2002; Nutrition Journal, 2015).
For more authoritative information, see The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution, by Michael J. Rudolph, Ph.D, including the foreword by Daniel L. Friedman, MD and Eugene B. Friedman, MD. You can click the link to order on Amazon here. The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution is a groundbreaking scientific plan based on research involving brown fat (BAT) The Thermo Heat® Weight Loss Revolution offers its readers a brown fat, thermogenic and brown-fat-activating-diet, nutrition, supplement(s) and exercise program. You can also get a free PDF version here.
©Published by Advanced Research Media, Inc. 2022
©Reprinted with permission from Advanced Research Media, Inc.
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