Heart disease is the #1 killer. However, traditional heart disease protocols - with their emphasis on lowering cholesterol - have it all wrong. Emerging science is showing that cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of heart disease and that standard prescriptions for lowering it, such as ineffective low-fat/high-carb diets and serious, side-effect-causing statin drugs, obscure the real causes of heart disease. Even doctors at leading institutions have been misled for years based on creative reporting of research results from pharmaceutical companies intent on supporting the $31-billion-a-year cholesterol-lowering drug industry.
The Great Cholesterol Myth reveals the real culprits of heart disease, including:
Get proven, evidence-based strategies from the experts with The Great Cholesterol Myth.
©2012 Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra, M.D. (P)2013 Tantor
"Anyone skeptical of the notion that there is more to heart disease than 'cut your fat, take a statin drug' would be well served by [listening to] this book." (William Davis, M.D.)
While I mostly listen to fiction books I have a long standing interest in books about food and healthy living. I've read/listened to books from Pollan, Hyman, Taubes, Schlosser and more. This one is right up there with the best of them. It includes real research on both sides of the cholesterol/fat debate. In addition they do a good job explaining how some research has been "interpreted" which helps to frame the explanation of how we got to where we are when it comes to eating right.
This book isn't a story (exactly) but the authors did a great job making the science easy to grasp. They acknowledge the parts that can cause eyes to glaze over and summarize these concepts very accurately. Given the nature of this material they still did a good job keeping it entertaining without detracting from the quality of the book.
There were a few parts that did get a chuckle out of me and I think that speaks to how well the authors managed to deliver their message. Glycation, oxidization, metabolism and other such concepts are not innately entertaining to most people. This book kept my attention and didn't bore me. I found it very interesting and if I had never read another book about this subject I would have been astounded at how inaccurate the common perceptions of heart health are.
For most of my life I was trying to "eat healthy" and seemed to only gain more weight no matter how much I excercised or avoided "bad foods". I was a vegetarian for seven years and even that made me gain weight and upped my triglycerides. Thanks to this book and others like it I have gradually come around to realizing that sugar (in every processed form) is really the true "bad food". This book represents a solid explanation of how the common knowledge and dietary advice is contributing to "western diseases". I feel that books like this should be required reading for every physician that is in business to keep people well and not just sell them the newest prescriptions.
For many people, a diet with an "inverted pyramid" focused on vegetables, fruits and whole grains is de rigueur. I'm not sure this book will push these people far from that "inverted pyramid". However, for certain classes of these healthy eaters, this book seems to have some well-documented items to think about. High triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol are one class of people the author singles out as potentially having to make dietary changes. Sugar is named as the driving factor behind the triglycerides. The key for the author is the inflammatory effects of weight and sugar on the body. The author cites multiple studies that describe high triglycerides and low HDL as a dangerous condition. His recipe is cut the sugar and preprocessed foods, monitor progress with a number of specific tests, and consider the potential of specific supplements. The author considers this condition more dangerous than high LDL cholesterol yet many doctors would view this type of patient with ambivalence all else being equal. If this describes you and your doctor is not concerned, you may want to read the book and consider making some changes. Another group of folks are folks who consume an imbalance of Omega 6s versus Omega 3 fats. Lots of folks with an under control LDL have some degree of ambivalence with regard to fats. This book tells those folks to pay more attention to the type of fats they consume and considers Omega6 versus Omega 3 to be pretty highly inflammatory. Again this class of person should read the book, read the citations, and think about taking action (which is spelled out in dietary recommendations, tests, and potential supplements).
For healthy eaters who try to manage their health by understanding the impact of diet on the body this book is highly recommended. This book will challenge many preconceptions you might have about the importance of cholesterol and will challenge you to think more deeply about the impact of sugar and inflammation on health. It will also recommend that you study different types of cholesterol than is customary right now. It will give you a list of specific tests that will help you gauge inflammation in your body. It will also recommend a list of supplements that may be effective depending upon your particular situation.
For unhealthy eaters, this book is also highly recommended as it puts a focus on sugar (and processed foods) not so much on fats and cholesterol. While the book is somewhat controversial in that it worries far less on the impact of cholesterol on health, for most folks I know who have unhealthy diets... sugar is their real problem. I believe a focus on sugar... reducing the dependence that many have on sugar is a surer first step to a healthy life than a focus on cholesterol reduction. Not a doctor, not an unhealthy eater... but I believe this book is a must read for these folks.
Born with earbuds.
Pure science, verifiable with references to primary, published, peer reviewed research.
The authors proved their points many different ways to drive their message home.
He personifies the authority of the authors.
Yes. There was so much useful information, you wanted it all right-away.
The authors missed an opportunity to directly address cholesterol's role in making heart disease worse if inflammatory factors are present. They also failed to mention cases where cholesterol does have a primary role in arterial sclerosis as in familial hypercholesterolemia. In addition, they probably should have addressed whether statins that traverse the blood-brain barrier have as large of a cognitive risk as those that don't. I have contacted the authors in hopes that they will address these issues in future additions.
On the very positive side, they minimize the use of anecdotal evidence to justify points, unlike many new age, pseudoscience books.
Some complementary topics to look up, not covered in detail in the book:
Heart-rate variability (HRV)
Sleep-apnea and cardiac health
Exercise & Insulin Resistance
It's easier to successfully find fault than it is to find new correct solutions. So is the case with The Great Cholesterol Myth. While the authors appropriately acknowledge that there's some truth to the myth -- the data do show that cholesterol does matter for middle-aged white males with heart conditions -- the medical establishment has vastly over extrapolated from these findings to conclude that lowering cholesterol levels for huge portions of the population is a good thing -- and that any side-effects aren't worth paying attention to.
I have first-hand experience with this. A couple of years ago I developed a textbook case of walkthrough angina so obvious I could diagnose myself with a simple internet search, but I dutifully followed my GP's orders to go to the cardiologist and have multiple tests done, whereupon the cardiologist concluded "you have a textbook case of walkthrough angina." He went on to prescribe the "standard treatment" of beta blockers to "lower my high blood pressure" and statins to "lower my high cholesterol".
I first replied, "I don't have high blood pressure". The cardiologist then looks at my chart and reads the blood pressure readings that have been taken at the beginning of each of my visits. They're actually on the low side. Disregarding my response and his own assistant's work, he takes my blood pressure himself and concludes that I don't have high blood pressure and don't need the beta blockers.
I then say I don't have high cholesterol. He pulls those data too, then protests that they're several months old. I respond that I've never had high cholesterol. He says I should take statins anyway. I decline. He unhappily shrugs and indicates we're done.
Of course there was never a discussion about diet as a way to lower cholesterol.
I've read everything I can find on "walkthrough angina". It's uncommon, untreatable, and it has a small negative correlation with having a heart attack such that it is believed to be a protective mechanism. It's annoying, but benign.
Statins and beta blockers have side effects, yet there was a knee-jerk reaction to prescribe them. Perhaps that's because of the biggest side-effect of all: It makes money for cardiologists and pharmaceutical companies, a fact clearly pointed out by the authors.
Pointing out that the emperor has no clothes is the easy part. The hard part is what to do about heart conditions. The authors go on to cover some more respected and more speculative recommendations about diet and lifestyle, then they get deep into recommending supplements -- not coincidentally supplements that have author Dr. Sinatra's name on them, and for which the supporting evidence is spotty.
Maybe some of the work some of the time. I even bought one to try. But I'm skeptical, and you should be too.
Do your own research, get dissenting views, and don't just take the authors' word on everything here, especially as they gain financially from your doing so.
I wouldn't say this was as enjoyable as it was interesting, need to know information presented in an easy to understand manner. I found it interesting because it related directly to my problem. Refreshingly, it was truly evidence based medicine at its best because it included common sense and not simply a reiteration of the cholesterol hypotheses that I've come to realize is more myth dependent then anything else. This book deals with strategies for attaining and maintaining heart health. I need to know this information because I have lived by the health education books... eating mostly veggies, fruits, chicken, and salmon. Wheat and milk products did not agree with me so I pretty much stayed away from them. But my cholesterol and LP(a) were very high. This book provided me the information and insight into why. Other docs pushed it off on my genes but neither parent had the problems I have, and they both ate boatloads of steak, eggs, etc. I maintained their minimally processed food lifestyle with some variations. I avoided red meat; minimized dairy consuming some low or no fat varieties; consumed minimal wheat products and no sodas. Sadly, I did consume excessive amounts of sugar.
Sugar... because I've come to realize how seriously he's affected my life, in a bad way, and now I realize I'll have to leave him forever or suffer the consequences which could be heart ache or worse-- a heart attack. (The latter is true) For me, cutting down on sugar was the big take away message.All kidding aside, I've come to realize that sugar causes inflammation and for many reasons this is a very bad thing. In addition to learning about the profound, negative effects of sugar, the authors have presented many innovative strategies and supplements to help one improve their heart health. They explain why they work and how to best take advantage of them. Although I was familiar with most, I took notes during this section and will add a few to my repertoire of supplements.This book promotes a well rounded, minimally processed diet. It advocates avoiding sugar, breads, and cake-like products. It does embrace eating fresh fruits and vegetables as well as steel cut or real oatmeal, not the instant type which is processed. This book advocates eating grass fed beef and wlld caught Alaskan salmon as well as dairy products from grass fed livestock. Of course it supports maintaining a healthy weight and getting daily exercise. Again, the authors address the whys of each suggestion which I found quite compelling.
My favorite section of the book was the supplement section as it gave me direction as to what to do about my specific, less known, heart health concerns...LP(a).
The Great Cholesterol Myth, Tests for Determining the Real Culprits, and What You Can Do About Them
It would be great if this book could be made into a documentary and aired on Netflix.
This is a must read for anyone who wants to attain and maintain a healthy heart. It delves into causes for high cholesterol that are not widely known or understood i.e. sugar. This book focuses on what's really of concern when it comes to heart health threats i.e. high LP(a), fibrinogen, C reactive protein, triglyceride levels, and more. I couldn't take statins and had a very bad reaction to them i.e. dizziness, exhaustion, falling, and debilitating forgetfulness. I'm very lucky I did not break a hip as I fell daily and couldn't remember drive routes. From the statins, I suffered from leg cramps that developed into semi permanent muscle spasms that a massage therapist finally worked out. With the exception of the latter, all problems dissipated when I dropped the statins and took niacin instead. Yep, I got the flush but realized it was a small price to pay to be off of the statins.
This book addresses the effectiveness of niacin... thank you very much.. My condition has undoubtedly been exacerbated by statins and docs that ascribe to a one size fits all methodology. This one two punch, resulting in extreme distress, has taken it's toll. It's a wonder I haven't had a heart attack from it-- whatever happened to the axiom of, "do no harm"?
Thanks to integrative books like this, I never had a heart attack. In this book, Dr. Sinatra and Dr. Johnny do not push statins. They suggest a multifaceted approach and a plethora of other remedies, from herbs to supplements, and healthful life style habits, from exercise to meditation. I can relate to, appreciate, and embrace this strategy taking away that which applies and will work for me.I rarely listen to books twice.
This is one I will listen to at least twice.
...who have been led down the wrong path by the medical establishment and big pharma. It's a great partner to "Why We Get Fat."
Absolutely. It contains revolutionary information that everybody should know.
Very easy to understand language, powerful information
Impressive and scary talk about statins
Sugars are the real villains
Yes, everyone. There is a lot of misinformation in conventional knowledge on saturated fat and cholesterol and the authors of this book thoroughly clear away all the misconceptions and skewed statistics on the subject.
I love the procedural history.
Fat Chance - all of these books support the premise that we are chasing the wrong tail in our fight for health.
Too long for that. But it did make for a great car ride!
I've always wondered why the medical profession keeps changing what they considered to be a "normal" cholesterol level. First, there was one number. Then there was "good" and "bad" cholesterol. And all the while not really knowing what is a normal cholesterol level, they have been prescribing medication to millions of people to lower cholesterol. This book provides a lot of background on how all this misinformation started. There is also a lot of science explaining heart functions, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans-fatty fat, etc. This is useful if you suspect you may be candidate for heart disease and really want to understand how all elements affect your body. I found it technical and dull after a while. The book claims the real causes of heart disease are inflammation, oxidation, sugar, and stress... again more technical information.
It took a long time before the authors got around to their advice, which is taking coenzeme Q10 (better known as CoQ10) for individuals taking statins or at risk of heart disease. Statins deplete CoQ10, which may lead to muscle pain, weakness, and fatigue. Unless you had a heart attack before (to justify the taking of medication), the preferred action is to lower inflammation with natural supplements, eat a better diet, drink alcohol in moderation, don't smoke, exercise, and manage your stress.
This book is an essential resource for anyone looking to improve their general health. It highlights some serious issues in the current dogma surrounding nutrition and healthy diets. As a society we now place too great an emphasis on avoiding evil cholesterol and this book attempts to challenge the thinking and Science behind that advice. A truly informative and eye-opening listen. It has seriously impacted upon the way I eat and lead my life... and definitely for the better!
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