We will continue with this passage from the NYT article on this diet trial:
In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in the blood — plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group.
Blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, stayed about the same for people in each group.
Nonetheless, those on the low-carbohydrate diet ultimately did so well that they managed to lower their Framingham risk scores, which calculate the likelihood of a heart attack within the next 10 years. The low-fat group on average had no improvement in their scores.
The decrease in risk on the low-carboydrate diet “should translate into a substantial benefit,” said Dr. Allan Sniderman, a professor of cardiology at McGill University in Montreal.
This does not make sense because it flies against everything you and I had known before, which is that the best thing for your heart is a low-fat (e.g., no ghee or butter, no cheese, etc.) diet.
But no. The old theory is not true. We have to adopt the newer and more true paradigm.
This and other studies have shown us that worse for your heart than a high-fat diet is a diet high in easily digestible carbs. In other words, the worst way to treat your heart is to feed ourselves every single day with bread made of refined flour (like white bread and naan), white rice, and fried and baked wheat products like cookies, chips, and most Indian snacks.
This new way of thinking may not make sense at first. But if you understand the basic underlying biology and its interactions with these foods, you'll see why a high-bad carb diet is worse.
See, when you eat easily digestible carbohydrates, your blood becomes quickly saturated with glucose. The more of these carbs you eat, the higher the glucose load in your blood. All of this glucose triggers the release of a lot of insulin, the hormone that tells your fat tissues (and other organs like your liver) to become fatter.
When you eat dietary fats, on the other hand, there is no trigger (in other words, no glucose) for the release of insulin. So yes, there is more molecular fat circulating in your blood. But this fat alone does not make you fatter because there is no signal to your fat tissues and other organs to do anything with the fat floating around.
However, when you eat lots of bad carbs with lots of bad fats, you're hitting your body with a double whammy. You have given your body both the raw material (molecular fat via dietary fat) and the signal (insulin via carbs) to become much, much fatter.
If you read the above passage carefully, you see HDL -- good cholesterol, the kind linked to better heart health -- goes up on a low-carb diet versus a low-fat diet, and triglycerides and inflammatory markers go down on a low-carb diet. This is good for your health.
You also see that LDL -- bad cholesterol -- is no better or worse in absolute numbers on either diet. So on this parameter, and also on the absolute number of cholesterol and blood pressure, both diets seem equal.
However, the absolute numbers of LDL do not tell the whole story. Read this passage:
Eating refined carbohydrates tends to raise the overall number of LDL particles and shift them toward the small, dense variety, which contributes to atherosclerosis. Saturated fat tends to make LDL particles larger, more buoyant and less likely to clog arteries, at least when carbohydrate intake is not high, said Dr. Ronald M. Krauss, the former chairman of the American Heart Association’s dietary guidelines committee.
Small, dense LDL is the kind typically found in heart patients and in people who have high triglycerides, central obesity and other aspects of the so-called metabolic syndrome, said Dr. Krauss, who is also the director of atherosclerosis research at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute.
“I’ve been a strong advocate of moving saturated fat down the list of priorities in dietary recommendations for one reason: because of the increasing importance of metabolic syndrome and the role that carbohydrates play,” Dr. Krauss said.
Guess which diet raises the level of the small dense LDL in your blood? Right, the diet high in bad carbs.
This is yet another example which shows that a diet high in bad carbs is worse for your health -- and also your amount of body fat and thus your weight -- than a diet high in bad fats. Both diets have their minuses. But the minuses of a diet high in bad carbs outweigh the minuses of a diet high in fat.
And that to me was the takeaway from the clinical diet trial. So if you want to lose body fat (weight) and also improve your likelihood of never having a heart attack, eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, meats are okay if you eat it, cooking in butter or ghee or coconut oil is okay too, and most importantly, stop eating refined grains.