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Food trends through the years: A mixed bag for heart health?

September 6, 2017

About the Author

photo of Julie Corliss

Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Julie Corliss is the executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. Before working at Harvard, she was a medical writer and editor at HealthNews, a consumer newsletter affiliated with The New England Journal of Medicine. She … See Full Bio
View all posts by Julie Corliss


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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


October 28, 2017

I just want to ask, my doctor prescribe for my triglyceride atorvastatin20 mg and lipway sr250mg, is it okay to take these medicine at the same time?

Mary Maloy
September 20, 2017

Rye breads are often incorrectly recommended as “whole grain” or “fiber-rich” which is untrue. There is no FDA standard guiding these contents in rye breads and many grocery store varieties have more white flour than rye and less than 1 g fiber/serving. Much of the dark coloring of rye breads–pumpernickel, too–is derived from caramel coloring

Glenn Sargent
September 12, 2017

What seems to be missing in comments and the article is fiber. It is also missing in the modern western diet. Which means that the microbiome is not performing as it should and is likely influencing many unhealthy aspects of our metabolism and general well being, including obesity.

Toluwalase Ogunlade
September 12, 2017

This is very interesting and educative article and I must confess, I have also learnt from the comments. In Nigeria, the salt scare is very much around, even though there are no suitable data to back up some of the claims on reduction in consumption of salt. People are very careful of inclusion of too much salt in their diet

Richard Harding
September 11, 2017

The comment that “by June 2018, the fats will be banned from our food supply entirely, thanks to a long-awaited FDA ruling” is incorrect. Trans-fats are still present in meat, dairy and eggs.

As the National Academies of Science (2005) Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Protein and Amino Acids states:

A UL [Upper Limit] is not set for trans fatty acids because any incremental increase in trans fatty acid intake increases CHD risk. Because trans fatty acids are unavoidable in ordinary, non-vegan diets, consuming 0 percent of energy would require significant changes in patterns of dietary intake. Nevertheless, it is recommended that trans fatty acid consumption be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.


As Eric Rimm, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, stated “We can’t tell people to stop eating all meat and all dairy products.Well, we could tell people to become vegetarians. If we were truly basing this only on science, we would, but it is a bit extreme.”.

Perhaps it is time to start looking at the science instead of basing your guidelines on preferences.

Sabrina K
September 11, 2017

You said trans fats are present in meat dairy and eggs. That is incorrect. Trans fats are created in the laboratory by adding hydrogen to oils (which is why they are also called hydrogenated oils).

September 18, 2017

This is false….meats, dairy and eggs dont contain trans fats…they may contain saturated fats, which can be harmful, but they dont contain trans fats

September 18, 2017

This is misleading…there arent any significant amount of trans fats in meat, eggs or dairy. There are miniscule ruminant trans fats in nature that have not been shown to be linked to any chronic illness the way commercially produced trans fats are.

Richard Harding
September 11, 2017

The “low-fat craze” is a myth. The US has never had a “low-fat” diet. The average (and median) fat content of the diet (as % of energy) has reduced from 40% in the 1950s to 33%. The total amount of fat has increased due to an increase in the amount of calories consumed.

This is NOT a low-fat diet.

The US has tried to manipulate their diet by removing fat, such as removing skin from chicken and consuming “low-fat” dairy. The amount of animal-based protein has actually increased to about 70% compared with 7% in China.

Figures calculated from “What We Eat in America”.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (2014) What We Eat in America, NHANES 2011-2012

J.M. Paris
September 11, 2017

400 mg of salt reduction per capita from 2000 to 2014. Is this per day, per week, per month?

September 11, 2017

Sugar is rarely called that …high fructose corn syrup, Fructrose, etc etc… it is nearly impossible to find any processed foods, frozen dinners, pizzas, breads that do not have sugar of some sort in them. Just thought it would be prudent to mention this in your mixed bag.

Glenda Hallstone
September 11, 2017

I agree and think professionals should do more teaching to the public.
For example writing for newspapers and posting on internet
G Hallstone, retired MS, RD, CDE

Thomas Turk
September 11, 2017

Your RD title means what? It means that you belong to Assns. worldwide following the dictates of the US Assn. Recently the US Assn was exposed as a totally corrupt, self-appointed organization fully . funded by food growers; by manufacturers of beverages; of processed foods; of confectionaries; by fast food companies; by a biotech giant, and indirectly by big pharma. After getting exposed, they quickly changed their name to the important sounding The Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Professionals to advise? Well surely not RDs. Then docs? What with their 6 hours of nutrition in 6-12 years of med school and only taught the calories, cholesterol, food groups etc baloney, that by Profs who know better but must teach ‘what’s in he book’, as one admitted to me. My son got 10 minutes of nutrition. Vienna Med U.

sonia k guterman
September 11, 2017

What about fat as an endocrine tissue, and improving the diet by eliminating sugar/refined carbs and increasing protein and good fats, as a way of controlling appetite and flow of calories out of fat tissue? See works by David Ludwig.

A.David Barnes, MD,MPH
September 11, 2017

Surely what counts is the out-come? I am celebrating my 80th birthday this year with my 20th (26.2 mile) marathon.

I have NEVER been seriously ill nor have had a major surgery.

2017 and I am delivering babies for the 54th year.I believe in the fruit and veggie diet taught years ago.

September 12, 2017

Dr. Barnes;
Please explain the fruit and veggie diet. Have you always been physically active?
Thank You,

eric solomon
September 11, 2017

Trans fats are problematic from all accounts, but I see no mention of saturated fats as being causative.This whole high fat-low carb fiasco (Banting) never seems to point a finger at saturated fats. Is this intentional?

Sandy H.
September 11, 2017

Correction to my previous comment: “Natural foods advocates said trans fats WERE worse than butter.”

Sandy H.
September 11, 2017

Back in the 1970s, margarine was pushed by doctors and mfrs as being much better for cardiovascular health than butter. Natural food advocates said the trans fats in margarine were NOT worse than the saturated fat in butter. They were ignored for … how many years? Glad I listened to them instead of conventional doctors.

September 8, 2017

Why are we still talking about salt?

The current recommendations for salt intake are not supported by science. Even the former president of the American Heart Association, Suzanne Oparil, agrees: “The current [salt] guidelines are based on almost nothing…Some people really want to hang onto this belief system on salt. But they are ignoring the evidence.”

That quote and more on the lack of evidence for current salt recommendations can be found in this article:

September 11, 2017

I’ve noticed that there’s a tendency on the internet to toss in a weblink in support of an argument when it’s not entirely clear whether the material in the link has been read very carefully.
Here’s the final section of the WP article on salt:

>The authors of the PURE study took steps to minimize such bias, but at the end, Anderson said, the weight of the evidence favored the old salt warning.

“We can’t take any one study in isolation,” Anderson said. “We placed the new ones in the context of the body of literature on sodium – and we put the strongest recommendations forward.”<

September 12, 2017

Enjoy your salt Robin but I am convinced that I get all the salt I need from whole plant-based products which at 2000 calories provides over 300 mg.
When you have proof that I need more salt than that and no detrimental impacts I will change my ways.

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