What really seems to matter is how much fat you eat, and the proportion of it that is derived from animals, rather than fish or vegetables. You probably get most of your fats from red meat and dairy products, such as cream, cheese, butter, and full-cream milk. The official recommendation is that fats should only account for between 30 and 35 percent of your total calorie intake. This is well below the content of animal fats in most American diets.
This is especially true for children. For most American children, 40 percent of their food energy supply comes from animal fats. This rises to 50 percent or more for children reared on junk foods. This is potentially tragic, because atherosclerosis starts in childhood, and hamburgers and chips are the best way to raise cholesterol levels in children.
Yet there is no need to be a food faddist, or to avoid one sort of food altogether. Even if you have angina, you can enjoy a wide variety of foods. There are simple rules you should observe, though:
• The first is to grill foods, or fry them in vegetable oils rather than fats or butter.
• Very small children may need some full-cream milk for extra energy, but for most people it is better to drink or cook with low-fat or skim milk rather than whole milk.
• For the most part, butter and hard margarines should be replaced by low-fat soft spreads made from buttermilk or skim milk, or by soft margarines made from polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Choose cheeses that have a low fat content, such as cottage cheese, rather than traditional hard or high-fat cheeses.
• Use vegetable oils for cooking, and eat more fish, poultry, and vegetables than red meats. There is no need to cut out beef, lamb, and pork altogether, but it may be wise to restrict them to twice a week.