Most cases of heart disease today involve a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) -a blood clot in a coronary (heart) artery causing a blockage and death to the heart muscle.
Most people don’t realize that MI was almost nonexistent around 1910. That’s right – nobody was having heart attacks. However, by the year 1930, MI caused a total of 3,000 deaths. Then, by 1960 that number reached 500,000! At this time, MI was the US’s #1 cause of death. Stroke rates also increased; the cause of MI and stroke is similar: blockages in the large arteries supplying the heart and brain.
Why did this happen?
Nutritional changes in the American diet.
Paul Dudley White, MD, “the father of modern cardiology,” helped found the American Heart Association and introduced the electrocardiograph machine to America. He made these remarks at a 1956 American Heart Association televised fund-raiser:
Heart disease in the form of myocardial infarction was nonexistent in 1900 when egg consumption was three times what it was in 1956, and corn oil was unavailable…I began my practice as a cardiologist in 1921, and I never saw an MI patient until 1928. Back in the MI-free days of 1920, the fats were butter and lard. And I think we would all benefit from the kind of diet we had when no one had heard the word ‘corn oil.’
The changes in diet were two-fold: firstly, people began consuming fewer protective fats like eggs, lard, butter, and tallow (beef fat) and generally began avoiding animal fats. Secondly, the consumption of trans fats skyrocketed! At the time, they were primarily found in margarine, corn, and vegetable oils that were barely used until the 1920s. Now, trans fats are found in most commercial junk foods. It is because of trans fats that a Twinkie can last for a decade- bacteria are unable to break its chemical bonds.
Your body can’t digest trans fats, which become toxic to your liver and other internal organs, especially your heart. Avoid trans fats and eat natural, healthy fats to have a well-functioning heart and avoid heart disease and stroke.
Interestingly, the Framingham heart study found that those who ate the most saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol were the most physically active. They also weighed the least and had the lowest levels of serum cholesterol!