Beef heart works well in stew.
Experimenting with beef heart isn’t very risky because it’s flavorful, surprisingly lean and inexpensive. On average, a serving costs half of a comparable serving of beef chuck roast. It does have one unhealthy aspect: It’s high in cholesterol. If you limit the cholesterol in the rest of your daily diet, beef heart can be consumed in moderation so that you gain its nutritional benefits.
When it comes to calories and protein, beef heart is about equal to white-meat chicken. A 3-ounce serving of beef heart has just 95 calories and 15 grams of protein. This amount of protein gives men 27 percent of their recommended daily intake, while women get 32 percent.
Fat and Cholesterol
Beef heart contains 3 grams of total fat in a 3-ounce serving, which is only slightly more than the same portion of chicken breast. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily fat intake to fewer than 25 to 35 percent of total daily calories. Based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that means consuming no more than 55 to 78 grams of total fat. Beef heart easily fits within a balanced diet based on total fat, but it does contain 105 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3-ounce portion. That’s almost half of the recommended daily intake of cholesterol. Chicken breast and other cuts of beef, such as the tenderloin, rib eye and ground beef, only have 54 to 58 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3-ounce serving.
Beef heart is a rich source of all the B vitamins except folate, but it’s especially high in vitamin B-12. Three ounces provide more than 200 percent of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin B-12 must be present for several enzymes to perform their jobs. These enzymes activate chemical reactions that turn fat into energy and help cells fight carcinogens. Vitamin B-12 also removes homocysteine from the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid produced as a byproduct of biochemical reactions. Homocysteine alone isn’t beneficial, but vitamin B-12 can turn it into other helpful substances. This is important because high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Iron’s primary job may be carrying oxygen through the blood, but it also fills other roles. You need iron to monitor levels of oxygen throughout the body and as an antioxidant, it protects white blood cells used by the immune system to kill bacteria. Some enzymes depend on the presence of iron to complete biochemical reactions that make collagen and neurotransmitters. Three ounces of beef heart deliver 50 percent of the recommended daily intake for men. Since women need more iron, the same serving gives them 22 percent of the daily value.
Prepare the beef before cooking by trimming any sinew, silver skin and fat found on the outside and inside of the heart. Since it’s a lean, somewhat tough cut of meat, braising it in beef stock or putting chunks of it into stew and simmering for several hours will help tenderize it. It can also be breaded, sauteed with onions and mushrooms and then simmered in marinara sauce for about 30 minutes. Let strips of the meat sit in a soy-flavored marinade and try grilling or stir-frying them. When cleaning the inside of the heart, cut it into two pieces, put stuffing between them and cook the dish slowly on low heat.
About the Author
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.
of people who tried this diet like it
+ – Tried it? Rate it!
out of 100
based on 283 reviews
What is it?
The Sacred Heart Diet is a weight loss fad diet that is used to help treat overweight people with heart conditions. It’s also been called the Spokane Heart Diet, Miami Heart Institute Diet, and the Cleveland Clinic Diet.
It claims results for up to 10 to 17 pounds in the first week. It lasts a total of 7 days and is made up mostly of soup and vegetables. It also claims to be helpful for those suffering from diabetes or bowel problems. There are different free resources online which help explain what the diet requires. By reviewing several popular and new diets, our experts have rated the 18Shake Diet as the most effective. It offers a combination of both an appetite suppressing meal replacement and a fat burning stimulant free diet pill. Discover more about what the 18Shake Diet has to offer by clicking the link provided.
Do You Know the Best Diets of 2018?
Sacred Heart DietIngredients and Side Effects
You can eat as much as you like of the following:
• Soup: Should consist of 1 to 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, 3 large green onions, and 1 large can of beef broth with no added fat, a package of Lipton Soup Mix, 1 bunch of celery, 2 cans of green beans, 2 green peppers and 2 pounds of carrots.
• Drinks: Unsweetened juices, herbal tea, skim milk, water, cranberry juice, and coffee. This can be drunk as much as one likes.
The kinds of foods allowed are:
• Day One: Unlimited soup and certain fruits excluding bananas.
• Day Two: Eating as much fresh, canned, or cooked vegetables. No dry beans, peas, or corn can be eaten. Leafy greens are suggested. Dinner allows for a baked potato with butter, though no fruits are allowed.
• Day Three: Unlimited soup, fruit and veggies. One should have lost around 5 to 7 pounds.
The link cited here has a list of the top 10 ranked diet plans for weight loss.
• Day Four: Skim milk and at least 3 milks. This is meant to replace the amount of carbohydrates and potassium needed. The protein and added calcium is intended to reduce the cravings for sweets.
• Day Five: Beef and tomatoes. 10 to 20 ounces of beef and canned tomatoes. Soup must be eaten once a day and 6 tomatoes can be eaten.
• Day Six: Beef and vegetables for as much as you’d like 2 to 3 steaks with green leafy vegetables and at least one soup a day.
• Day Seven: Brown rice, unsweetened fruit juice, eat as much soup as you can, and you can add cooked vegetables to the rice.
If more than 17 pounds have been lost it’s advised to stop using the diet for two daysbefore one can resume using it again. It’s said that one should lose between 10 to 17 pounds safely. The basic idea is that this diet will significantly reduce the amount of calories you lose via introducing low calorie foods.
The reason one can eat unlimited amounts of soup is due to the extremely low calories provided, as well as the natural liquid in soup which helps to fill up the stomach.
There are also restrictions on food such as not eating:
• Carbonated drinks including diet soda.
• Fried foods.
It’s advised to make sure to at least drink a total of 6 to 8 glasses of water. One can add the list of allowed beverages to also make up for the amount of liquids one needs to drink.For a top 10 list of the highest rated diet plans click the link provided.
EDITOR’S TIP: Combine this diet with a proven meal replacement such as 18 Shake for better results.
Sacred Heart Diet Quality of Ingredients
There are healthy food options which are recommended, but eating only large amounts of soups can be difficult. It’s likely one will lose weight as there is very few calories provided. The issue is that this can also lead to nutritionaldeficiencies. A lot of the foods one will be eating are low in fats, which can lead to fatigue.
The claimed 10 to 17 pounds of weight loss are likely to be water weight. The reason why the diet is only available for use up to 7 days is because of the risk of issues with can result with repeat use. Diets that require only a short term use are often because they can promote side effects. This is not considered a sustainable diet; they are what are known as crash diets.
Sharron Coplin, a registered dietician for Ohio State University said:
“would not recommend any diet that exceeded a safe rate of weight loss, which is 2 to 3 pounds per week”
This rapid weight loss is not a quality of a safe and effective diet plan. The link provided here has a rate of the highest rate weight loss diets.
The Price and Quality of Sacred Heart Diet
The price depends on where one gets their vegetables and other food items. It’s likely to be an easy to afford diet, but there are health websites which mention it’s potentially unsafe.
Healthy Weight Formulas adds:
“one of the main points against it is that most weight loss is temporary, caused by fluid depletion”
“particularly low in calories, and may cause light headedness and weakness”
The risk for side effects and the extreme reduction in calories make this a potentially risky diet. It is easy to begin this diet, but overall the lack of evidence for safety makes it a poor diet. Our experts have rated the top ranking diet plans in a top 10 list found here.
Business of Sacred Heart Diet
Websites which promote this brand often will claim that it was formulated by a particular hospital. The truth is that none of the claimed hospitals said to have created this diet have taken responsibility, since it’s a potentially dangerous diet.
Most of the information on this diet is available on free websites. There is no officialguide, and certain sites offer different accounts on what should be followed. The same basic ideas are offered however, such as making sure to get the help of a physician in case of any excess weight loss.
This lack of information is likely because like other fad diets it’s not based off of real science. The top 10 list of the best weight loss diets can be seen in the link cited here.
EDITOR’S TIP: The top 10 list of the best diets is available here.
Customer Opinions of Sacred Heart Diet
Here are some direct quotes from users of this diet:
“On day 3 and lost nothing! Actually gained 2 lbs. on day 2”
“gained A LOT of weight back”
“I am on day 7 of this diet and have not lost any weight”
“I am always hungry though, and don’t want to constantly eat this soup”
As suspected the main issue people had was that any weight loss was quickly regained. This is what is known as a crash diet, which gives fast results that do not last and is only intended for a short period of use.
The issue with diets like this is that most of the weight loss is actually water weight and not fat. This makes it impossible to rely on for real weight loss.
Another listed issue from people was that it was hard to eat the same kinds of foods. People quickly because bored of the food selection, for many it was impossible to keep eating soup even it was just for 7 days. For a list of thehighest rated diet pals for weight loss follow the link provided here.
Conclusion – Does Sacred Heart DietWork?
The Sacred Heart Diet allows for unlimited amounts of soup that’s based off of just one recipe. For the entire 7 days there are different allowed foods. The diet is considered a fad crash dietthat can result to upwards of 7 pounds in the total 7 days. One can continue using the day off and on again for results. Many who have tried it mention it’s not satisfying to keep eating the same foods allowed. There were also problems with the lack of long lasting weight loss. There are problems with sustaining weight loss efforts since most of what’s lost is water weight. Medical sites also mention that it’s lacking in nutrition and that it can be unsafe to keep using it. It can lead to nutritional deficiencies which may result in long term side effects.
Our experts have concluded the best solution for weight loss is the 18Shake Diet. It offers a nutritionally balanced meal replacement that helps with appetite suppression, as well as a diet pill made to help burn fat. Testimonials and positive reviews are available on the official website from people who have had significant results. There are only natural ingredients, no artificial colors, stimulants, or fillers added.
The 18Shake Diet is also backed by a full 30 day money back return policy. This risk free return policy is offered with no questions asked. You can learn more about the benefits of the 18Shake Diet in the link cited here.
User Reviews Archieved Start the Diet Now Advertisement
The Sacred Heart Diet is a 7-day eating plan that is supposed to shed pounds quickly by consuming a special soup made of broth and vegetables as your main source of food. According to the diet, during the seven days, you can lose up to 10 pounds or more. Each day has specific guidelines for which foods and drinks to consume. There is a thorough list of restricted foods and beverages, so that you’ll know exactly what you can and can’t consume.
This diet supposedly comes from the Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital, although reports on the Web refute this. It is used for overweight heart patients in order to lose weight rapidly, usually prior to surgery. In addition to losing weight quickly, it is intended to also wash your body of impurities while giving you a surge of energy without the ingestion of caffeine or other energy-enhancing products. This diet is also sometimes referred to as the Cabbage Soup Diet.
Do You Know the Best Diet Pills of 2017?
- There are notable health benefits from avoiding certain processed foods like refined sugars and flours
- Does not call for any funky supplements or herbal concoctions
- Reliance on the diet’s consumption of vegetables, fresh fruit and lean protein is beneficial to one’s health and can possibly aid in weight loss also.
- Its one-week time frame is manageable for individuals with a strong will power and who want to lose weight quickly
- Supports exercise
- Diet may be restrictive for some
- No scientific evidence that this soup will actually burn calories
- Once you’ve completed it, you are on your own to reestablish your eating routine
- Does not give any guidelines for how to sustain long-term weight loss
- Given its strictness, the individual may run the risk of having a gorge fest when Day 7 is completed
- Sacred Heart Hospital and The American Heart Association deny any relationship with the diet
The soup, which is made from 11 ingredients, is the supposed magic pill of The Sacred Heart Diet. The soup includes canned tomatoes, mushrooms, green beans, bell peppers, celery, beef stock and vegetable juice. You can find the complete Sacred Heart Diet Recipe here.
For the seven days of this diet, you will eliminate bread, white sugar, alcohol, fried foods, and carbonated beverages
The Diet has specific guidelines for each day that you must adhere to in order to reap the supposed benefits.
Each day, you will consume your sacred soup in addition to certain kinds of fruit, certain allowable beverages, protein and other cooked or canned vegetables. For instance, on Day One, you may eat as much soup as you want to as well as fruit except for bananas. On this first day, you can only drink coffee, black tea, water or unsweetened juice without milk or sugar added to the beverages On Day Two, you can have soup, vegetables and a baked potato with a small pat of butter for dinner. On Day Four, you may eat at least 3 bananas, and drink as much skim milk and soup as you can. The diet continues for the following three days in which you add lean red meat or chicken and still continue to eat the soup.
Abiding by the diet’s guidelines is intended to yield the results you are looking for.
There are no specific exercise recommendations for The Sacred Heart Diet other than to follow your usual exercise routine by getting in some form of exercise on most days of the week.
Albeit it is a very restrictive diet, The Sacred Heart Diet is a commendable eating plan given its reliance on vegetables, fruits and lean protein. It is clearly high in fiber, nutrients and minerals. It is similar to many low carbohydrate diets out there for its avoidance of refined sugars, flour of any sort, fried foods and added fat. Although there is no scientific proof that the sacred soup which you ingest every day is a magic pill to melt off the pounds, it is a great way to feel full and to get in more than your five veggies a day. But its reliance on veggies and fruit might give some stomach cramps if your system is not used to this way of eating. Since this such a one-shot punch to lose weight, it might be that you gain the weight back just as quickly or even more quickly as you lost it.
And do make a pact with yourself before starting this diet that on Day 8, when The Sacred Diet officially ends, you don’t hightail it to McDonalds and order 3 double cheeseburgers and 2 super-sized fries. Do be gentle on your gut as you acclimate it back to the foods that you normally consume: order the Happy Meal.
sacrid, saecred, hart, scared
Featured Diets and Supplements
Eating organ meats may not be for the faint of heart (pun intended), but it used to be that organ meats were prized and reserved for distinct members of society, and not tossed aside as is common today. The biggest barriers to eating organ meat, especially heart, is largely psychological – after all, there is something a little off-putting about eating organ meat, if the only other time you’ve ever been around whole organs wasn’t for consumption but rather for dissection in your 10th grade biology class. However, organ meats, especially hearts, are foods that are worth getting over your heebie-jeebies for, because they’re nutritional super-foods. They’re so nutrient-dense, that ideally you should try to eat them at least twice a week, and you should source your meat from organically-raised pastured animals. (If you’re wondering how to prioritize your grocery budget for meat when you can’t afford grass-fed beef, The Paleo Mom has a great guide).
Similar to other cuts of red meat, heart is a great source of iron, zinc, selenium and B-vitamins. But, the best reason for eating heart is because it’s the densest food source of coenzymeQ10 (coQ10). CoQ10 is a fat-soluble antioxidant, and it’s vital in energy production, with a critical role in ATP synthesis (the body’s fundamental unit of energy).
So, if you can get over the appearance (chopping, slicing or grinding certainly helps), you’ll find that beef heart recipes tastes very similar to steak or stew, or if you’re eating chicken, pork or lamb hearts, that they taste like darker cuts of meat. Many of the recipes in this hearty (haha!) recipe round-up use a crock pot or slow cooker – the slow cooking process helps to tenderize what could be a tough cut of meat otherwise. (Check out the table at the end of this post for a comparison of some popular slow cookers).
Beef heart confit with sous vide beets
Pan seared beef heart served w/ herby white sauce
Grilled beef heart with roasted chili peppers
Beef heart with roasted vegetables
Easy beef heart steak
Beef heart chili
Paleo-style beef heart dirty rice
Beef heart with chimichurri sauce
A cheaper alternative to steak: beef heart!
Beef heart and carrot curry
Preparing beef heart and heart kebobs
The Nasty Bits: Ox Heart Anticuchos
Grilled marinated beef heart (anticuchos de corazon)
Anticuchos (grilled beef heart)
Barbecued beef heart kabobs
Moroccan heart kebab (brochette)
Beef heart skewers
Crockpot beef heart with cauliflower mash and paleo gravy
Crockpot beef heart stuffed with bacon, mushrooms and onions
Slow-cooked “Heart on Fire” with creamed kale
Slow-cooked beef heart stew
Slow cooker beef heart
Beef heart chili
Grass fed beef heart stew
Slow cooker stuffed beef heart
Beef heart jerky
Sweet heart jerky
Vietnamese inspired beef heart jerky
Pickled beef heart
Like these recipes? Click here to download a Free eBook that includes all the recipes listed on this site!
Slow Cooker Comparison Table
|Hamilton Beach 7-Quart Stay Or Go Slow Cooker||$$||7||Single clip latches lid to base for spill-resistant travel; Detachable lid and removable stoneware for dishwasher clean upHinged lid stays up for serving; Folding handles snap up for carrying fold down for storage; Perfect size for a 7 lb. chicken|
|Crock-Pot Cook’ N Carry 6-Quart Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker||$$||6||6-quart oval stoneware is perfect for seven or more people or a six pound roast; High, low, and warm settings are perfect for making chilis, stews, sauces and more; Lid-mounted locking system is easy to use for portability; Secure fit lid helps keep the unit sealed so your meal stays in when you go out; Measures approximately 15 by 10 by 15 inches|
|Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central Multi-Cooker, Slow Cooker, Steamer||$$$$||6||Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging; One touch switches modes when recipe calls for combination cooking; Extra-large blue backlit LCD display with easy-to-read time and temperature settings; Removable 6-quart nonstick aluminum cooking pot; Glass lid with cool-touch handle for clear view and comfortable handling; Dishwasher-safe removable parts for effortless cleanup, Steaming rack included, Limited 3-year warranty|
|Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart||$$||6||3 choices for easy, automatic cooking: probe, program and manual; Thermometer probe for meat; Clip-on spoon; Clip-tight gasket lid; Easy, automatic cooking|
|Crock-Pot 4-Quart Cook and Carry Slow Cooker||$$||4||4-quart capacity feeds 4 or more people; Lid-mounted locking system; Removable oval stoneware and lid are dishwasher-safe; Convenient warm setting; Great for potlucks, family gatherings, tailgating, parties and more|
|West Bend 5-Quart Oblong-Shaped Slow Cooker||$$||5||Oblong-shaped slow cooker with adjustable temperature control; Generous 5-quart capacity for entertaining or dinner with the family; Oven-, range-top-, and freezer-safe cooking pot; glass lid included; Heating base doubles as a nonstick mini griddle; dishwasher-safe parts; Measures 7-1/4 by 12-3/4 by 8-3/4 inches; 1-year limited warranty|
|DeLonghi Stainless-Steel Programmable 5-Quart Slow Cooker||$$$||5||Just set it and go with the 10-hr digital countdown timer; perfect for long work days or busy days running around with the kids at sports practice; Enjoy the ease of the servable ceramic bowl, take it straight to the table, so there is less to clean!; You can take pleasure in the ample counterspace you’ll still enjoy with the sleek compact design; Feed the family or even a whole dinner party with the 5-qt capacity; Be sure that you will always cook food at the perfect temperature with high and low settings and a 2-hr keep warm function|
|Proctor-Silex 4-Quart Slow Cooker||$||4||Removable stoneware for easy cleaning; Dishwasher safe stoneware; Keep warm setting; Dishwasher safe glass lid|
|Calphalon 7-Quart Digital Slow Cooker||$$$$||7||Auto-setting cooks for 2 hours on High, then switches to Low for the remainder of the cook time; 24-hour digital timer automatically switches to Warm at the end of the cooking cycle; Easy-to-read, high contrast LCD display; Dishwasher-safe 7 Qt. ceramic crock; The Calphalon Kitchen Electrics collection features our exclusive Opti-Heat System. Designed to provide accurate temperature control and even heat delivery, Opti-Heat ensures that foods cook evenly and thoroughly.|
|Frigidaire Professional Stainless 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker||$$$||7||Spacewise Design; Pro-Select LED Display; Pro-Select One-Touch Options; Fully Programmable; Stylish Stainless-Steel Exterior|
Photo credit: Game of Thrones by HBO
All of the links on TheRealFoodGuide.com are for information purposes, however some are affiliate links to books, products or services. Any sponsored posts are clearly labelled as being sponsored content. Some ads on this site are served by ad networks and the advertised products are not necessarily recommended by The Real Food Guide.
February 12 | The Real Food Guide
A new commentary just published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine contends that saturated fat is uninvolved in coronary artery disease. Before you get too excited: the commentary is comprised only of theory and opinion, none of it new, all of it expressed by these same authors before. The cited support involves no new research either.
I confess I don’t understand why hypothesizing by several cardiologists who have expressed this opinion before, involving no new research, citing review articles from two and three years ago on the causes of coronary artery disease should be worthy of publication in the peer-reviewed literature. Generally, it requires more than mere speculation, let alone repeating prior speculation, to clear that bar. I further don’t understand why, in light of all the new research coming out weekly, a commentary lacking both novel comments and new research should be newsworthy. But the media picked this one up just the same.
But perhaps we can account for it after all. The authors make a theoretical argument to contend that saturated fat is not a cause of heart disease. There is nothing we seem to like better in the nutrition space than hearing that everything we thought we knew was wrong, and renewing our license to procrastinate and eat whatever we want. This particular scientific journal’s parent has earned a dubious reputation for favoring dietary dissent over consensus, for whatever reasons. As for the media, there is nothing they tend to like better than an endless sequence of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, because perpetual confusion means you will need to tune in tomorrow for the newest “truth” populating the most recent 20-minute news cycle.
There’s just one problem with all of this theorizing: there is nothing theoretical about coronary disease. Heart disease remains the leading cause of premature death among men and women alike in the U.S., and increasing portions of the world. Heart disease is not hypothetical—it is an almost entirely unnecessary epidemiological scourge siphoning years from lives and life from years.
The new commentary is, in a word, wrong. It is not necessarily wrong in every particular about saturated fat—there are some legitimate uncertainties there. It is wrong in the whole, because it commits the willful deception, or classic blunder, of conflating the part for the whole.
Whatever the specific, mechanistic involvement of any given saturated fatty acid with atherogenesis and coronary disease, the reliably established fact is that diets high in the foods that are high in saturated fat lead to high rates of heart disease—while many variations on the theme of diets low in saturated fats, whether low high or middling in total fat, are associated with lower rates of heart disease, lower rates of all chronic disease, and lower rates of premature death.
The choice of citations in this commentary is highly selective, very limited, and the interpretation of the studies is flagrantly biased. These authors didn’t ‘happen upon’ this opinion because they just reviewed the literature and found a surprise. They are well established, even famous, for espousing exactly this opinion—so they knew the answer before ever they posed a question. Science tends to be better when the question precedes the answer.
Their conclusion that saturated fat is exonerated is based on straw-man arguments. For one thing, it is very hard to isolate the effects of saturated fat. This is because saturated fat is a diverse class of nutrients with differing effects; because saturated fat is consumed in foods, not by itself; and because more of THESE foods in one’s diet ineluctably means less of THOSE foods. Consequently, the attribution of health effects to just one dietary factor is very difficult. The more enlightened researchers in this space have long shifted their focus to overall dietary patterns, and there—the evidence is nothing short of overwhelming: dietary patterns that produce the best health outcomes overall, including less cardiovascular disease, may be high or low in total fat, but are invariably plant-predominant and low in saturated fat.
The best evidence regarding the best diets all points to wholesome foods, predominantly plants, in sensible combinations—but provides no decisive evidence that any one level of total fat is best. What matters are the sources of that fat, with nuts, seeds, olives, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, fish, and seafood favored.
High-fat Mediterranean diets have shown great results, but so have vegan and vegetarian diets, and very low-fat omnivorous diets like that of the Tsimane, so recently in the news. The Tsimane reportedly derive up to 72 percent of their calories from carbohydrate; have very low dietary fat intake; experience inflammation on which the current authors blame coronary disease, but due to infections not eating sugar; and yet have the cleanest coronaries ever studied. Fat level, per se, simply does not appear to be a relevant consideration. But the kind of fat, and the sources of that fat, clearly are. Why would these authors conflate the two?
Why, in particular, would they fail even to mention the Tsimane if their commentary were aiming at illumination on this topic? The answer is—they would not. They failed to mention them, or any studies at odds with their predetermined conclusion, because their goal appears to be self-promotion born of controversy. Controversy sells.
To be fair, there are some valid points in the commentary, but they are so lost in a haze of obfuscation that they are devoid of all value.
Imagine a commentary arguing that, in theory, one particular compound or group of compounds in cigarettes is not responsible for emphysema, or lung cancer. We might already be convinced that these compounds are involved, based on the weight of evidence. We might have meaningful, residual doubts about the specific role of these compounds relative to other constituents of tobacco. But we know for sure that cigarettes, per se, are overwhelmingly linked to both emphysema and lung cancer.
But—not so fast!—our commenting theorists tell us. They remind us of the want of randomized controlled trials. They focus their discussion on this one compound, and point out the uncertainties and methodologic challenges in linking this particular moiety to lung cancer. They espouse theories about general mechanisms—random mutations and the inflammatory effects of psychological stress. They cite very impressive sounding work, such as papers in Science telling us that random mutations occur routinely. They systematically avoid citing any impressive research addressing less comfortable areas, such as the paper in Nature indicating that the majority of all cancer is preventable by modifying lifestyle, with avoidance of tobacco at the top of the list. And, they avoid any mention of staggering volumes of evidence establishing the association not between one chemical, but tobacco itself—with emphysema, lung cancer, and other highly undesirable fates.
Such an argument would be almost exactly analogous to the one now making news. The commentary is mostly wrong, but even when it isn’t wrong, it is profoundly misleading—unless you think uncertainties about which chemical in cigarettes is guilty of tobacco’s crimes against humanity, as a license to go back to smoking until the experts sort it all out.
In a paragraph in the middle of the new commentary, the authors all but declare their profound bias, and commitment to finding and citing only evidence in line with the opinion they owned at the start. They contrast a “low fat” diet deriving 37 percent of calories from fat, with a healthy Mediterranean diet deriving 41 percent of calories from fat, and use the favorable outcomes in the Mediterranean diet arm to dismiss and disparage “low fat” diets, and by insinuated extension, diets generously comprised of mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and lentils.
What isn’t preposterous about this reasoning is just plain mendacious. First, 37 percent of calories from fat is higher than the typical American diet; calling it low-fat is truly bewildering. This is like contrasting 37 cigarettes a day to 41 cigarettes a day. If you think lack of decisive benefit from those four fewer daily cigarettes means it makes no difference whether or how much you smoke, this commentary is for you!
Second, the paper was, as declared in its own title, about saturated fat—what does low total fat (whether described fairly or unfairly) have to do with it? Nutrition experts around the world all but uniformly emphasize the variety and balance of fats over the total quantity, a position formalized in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report in the U.S. Personally, I have long concluded that total fat content is a very poor indicator of diet quality, just as total carbohydrate is. Avocado and wild salmon are high in fat, and so is pepperoni pizza. Lollipops are high in carbohydrate, and so are lentils. A focus on macronutrients is yesterday’s news, was yesterday’s news yesterday, and in the context of the new commentary, is a diversionary tactic.
Speaking of fats and carbohydrates, these authors go on to borrow a page from the playbook of every “it’s all about the carbs” iconoclast preceding them, suggesting that coronary disease is due to inflammation, and that, in turn, is due to refined carbohydrate and added sugar. The problem here is the obvious one: there is no need to choose. Those of us who know that beans are much better for you than bacon-cheeseburgers also know that water is much better for you than Kool-Aid, and steel-cut oats far better than Pop-Tarts. The idea that you need to pick a dietary scapegoat is one of the great boondoggles of modern public health, and only serves the interests of the junk food industry—ever ready to put lipstick on a new pig.
As for the authors’ references to the Mediterranean diet, I can only say I share their enthusiasm. But what the PREDIMED diet showed, and the Lyon Diet Heart Study before it—is the superiority of a diet high in unsaturated fat from olives and avocados, nuts and seeds, and to a lesser extent fish and seafood—to a diet high in sources of saturated fat. THERE WAS NO ‘LOW FAT’ DIET IN THE COMPARISON. That contention is either willfully misleading or an indication of plain ignorance.
I do have one hypothetical provocation of my own. Let’s imagine that a diet rich in beans, and a diet rich in beef, were comparably good for our coronaries. The evidence indicates that is untrue, but let’s pretend. If we really had such options for health, we would still have no real option for the environment. The environmental argument for plant-predominant diets is, if anything, stronger than the health arguments. For academics in the public health space to offer dietary advice in the age of climate change and ignore the planetary impact of choices made by 8 billion hungry Homo sapiens is a sad abdication of an obvious responsibility we all share.
There is nothing hypothetical about coronary artery disease; it is a real, clear, and omnipresent danger. Its association with dietary patterns and key dietary components is reliably established by staggering volumes of evidence these commentators simply chose to ignore. If you are inclined to buy this misguided and misleading theorizing about diet, keep your credit card handy; I am confident that tobacco industry theorists have something to sell you, too.