It is funny how two lives can run parallel courses thousands of miles apart to eventually become intertwined. I am a cardiologist trained in interventional therapy (stents) for coronary artery disease (CAD) who has become a passionate advocate of lifestyle and prevention of CAD before stents are needed. I exercise daily using high-intensity protocols. I am appalled by the current status of hospital food. I emphasize the need for increased fruits and vegetables in the diet with reduced added sugars and value the pattern of eating in the Mediterranean (MED) basin as a model for balanced nutrition. I am a student of the voluminous nutritional research by Dr. Ancel Keys, the world renowned physiologist who introduced the MED Diet to the United States in 3 best-selling books after decades of seminal research on diet-heart relationships. Finally, I have recently traveled to Museum of the MED Diet in Pioppi, Italy, and the winter residence for nearly 40 years of Dr. Keys and his wife Margaret.
Dr Aseem Molhatra is a cardiologist practicing in London who is 20 years younger than me but who shares the same credentials listed above. I praise the fact that he fights for better nutrition for children with a campaign to lower added sugars in the diet and shuns processed junk foods. However, we have quite different opinions in terms of the role of dietary saturated fats, mainly from animal sources such as red meat, butter, full fat dairy, cheese, and eggs. Dr. Molhatra gained international attention with an editorial in the British Medical Journal titled “Saturated Fat is Not the Major Issue.” He presented selected references he used to conclude that the health of the public suffered when it was led towards a low fat diet rich in added sugars. He blamed the research of Dr. Keys, who he claims “demonized” saturated fats. He relies on a meta-analysis in 2010 on the topic and a randomized trial examining different versions of a MED diet on CAD outcomes. His National Obesity Foundation, which receives funding from meat producers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, has been criticized for a recent proposal on managing obesity in the U. K.. The irony is that his NOF report was accused of “cherry-picking” studies to support its claims, the very same claim that has been erroneously hurled dozens of times at Dr. Keys since his death. Dr. Malhotra recently released a documentary on his visit to Pioppi, Italy, The Big Fat Fix. Finally, he was recently featured in the New York Times holding a cup of coffee with butter and coconut oil blended into it while advocating for more cheese, eggs, and bacon in the public diet.
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