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Eat Your Heart Out -- Printout -- TIME
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Wednesday, Jun. 07, 2006
Eat Your Heart Out
By MICHAEL D. LEMONICK;Christine Gorman and Alice Park/New York
A few decades ago, taking care of your heart didn't seem all that complicated. You ate a balanced diet,
didn't drink too much and got some fresh air and exercise--a round of golf, maybe. That was about it.
Not that everyone, or even most people, actually lived up to these standards. But if you fell short, at
least you knew what to feel guilty about.
Then we started hearing from the scientists. People who thought they were doing everything right, it
turned out, were actually abusing their bodies--and in particular, their hearts. The cholesterol in
steaks, cream, butter and especially those breakfast eggs was clogging arteries like sludge in a
stopped-up drainpipe. Salt was poison: it drove up blood pressure and put an unhealthy strain on the
ticker. Overeating and becoming overweight were a sure ticket to a coronary.
So, the thinking was, better cut out the steak, treat yourself to one egg a week (if you must), switch
from butter to margarine and hide the saltshaker. Oh, and don't waste time with golf. Vigorous,
pulse-pounding exercise was the only way to keep your weight within limits--and just as important,
your heart properly toned. It was a spartan regimen and made folks who didn't follow it feel guiltier
than ever, but it retained the virtue of being comprehensible.
Recently, however, the scientists seem to have gone mad. Hardly a week goes by without some expert
somewhere issuing a new report declaring that a particular food or vitamin or activity or condition
will either restore your cardiovascular health or ruin it--and as often as not, the new advice seems to
contradict the old. Among the new findings:
--EGGS aren't nearly as bad for the heart as doctors used to think. Sure, they're packed with
cholesterol. But scientists now know that eating cholesterol doesn't necessarily result in high levels of