Trending Food & Cardiovascular Health – Review

I read this review on fad diets and their supposedly cardiovascular health benefits a few weeks ago and wanted to share here the main results of this article.

A. M. Freeman et al. “Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 69.9 (2017): 1172-1187.

Heart-harmful and heat-healthy foods

Coconut Oil vs. Olive Oil

Let’s start with coconut oil. Yes, I am a bit obsessed with coconut oil and its so-called health benefits. Super trendy. You can find many articles on line that will tell you that it helps to reduce cholesterol, to boost memory and immune system, to lose weight, etc.

However, there is not yet sufficient evidence to support these supposed health benefits: “Coconut oil […] has deleterious effects on atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD ) risk factors. Current claims of documented health benefits of the tropical oils are unsubstantiated and use of these oils should be discouraged.” On the other hand, “there is first-level scientific evidence of the health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil. […] The cardioprotective and other healthy properties of olive oil have been assessed in many [studies].

So, until new evidences supporting coconut oil are published, go for extra virgin olive oil (which also appears to be more sustainable if you live in Europe). It’s a no brainer.

Plant-based diet

Another reason to be very pleased with this review is the confirmation thatplant-based proteins are significantly more heart-healthy compared to animal proteins. Without mentioning that they are more environment-friendly, more affordable and cruelty free. Do we really need much more reasons to decrease meat consumption?

This review also shows that green leafy vegetables and nuts have beneficial effects on ASCVD risk factors. In addition, current evidence suggests that fruits and vegetables are the healthiest and most beneficial source of antioxidants for ASCVD risk reduction. In short: A whole food, plant-based dietary pattern plays an important role in ASCVD risk reduction.” You can read more about what is a plant-based diet here.


I will conclude with their findings about gluten: “In patients without gluten related disorders, many of the claims for health benefits of gluten-free diets are unsubstantiated”. So leave the gluten-free options to those that really need it (allergy or intolerance) and rather go for unprocessed food.


If you want to read more about these results, you can find the publication here.


PS: My main criticism of this review is that saturated fat is treated as the bad guy. It used to be, but recent evidences show that the relation between saturated fat and heart disease is not so clear. But this will be soon treated in another post!


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