“You have a severely blocked coronary artery, about a 95% obstruction . . . At this moment you are a heart attack statistic just waiting to happen.”
THIRTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD Joe could hardly believe these words of a cardiologist who examined him to determine the cause of his chest pain. Almost half of those who will die of heart disease are not even aware that they have it.
But what led up to Joe’s condition? ‘For 32 years I ate the typical American “meat and milk” diet,’ laments Joe. ‘Somehow the fact that the American diet is hazardous to my health fell through the cracks.’
Your Diet andHeart Disease
What was wrong with Joe’s diet? Basically, it contained too much cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat. From his youth, Joe had been setting himself up for coronary heart disease with nearly every forkful of food. A high-fat diet is, in fact, linked to five of the ten leading causes of death in the United States. At the top of the list is coronary disease.
The connection between diet and heart disease is seen in a study conducted in seven countries on some 12,000 men aged 40 to 49. The extremes are particularly revealing. The study showed that Finnish men—eating 20 percent of their calories as saturated fat—had elevated blood-cholesterol levels, while Japanese men—eating only 5 percent of their calories as saturated fat—had low blood-cholesterol levels. And the Finnish men had a rate of heart attack six times greater than the Japanese men!
Coronary heart disease, however, is no longer rare in Japan. In the past several years, as Western-style fast foods have become popular there, the consumption of animal fats has gone up 800 percent. Now, Japanese boys have even higher blood-cholesterol levels than American boys of the same age! Clearly, dietary fat and cholesterol are implicated in life-threatening conditions, particularly heart disease.