Friday, April 23, 2010

Saturated Fat Does Not Cause Cardiovascular Disease?

"A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD," says a piece recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Click here to read the abstract.

This directly contradicts the mainstream nutrition "party line" of the last 30-some years.

There's so much I want to say about this. I'm not sure where to start. Except to say that I'm not surprised.

And I'll offer this thought:

When you are trying to understand anything about food and nutrition especially, or about human beings in general, it is important to understand the mainstream party line, but it is also important to understand the "alternative" positions. When one of the alternative positions make WAY more sense than all other explanations, that's probably because it's right and the others are wrong.

The articles about fats that make the most sense to me are on the Weston A. Price Foundation web site. Click here if you'd like to take a look.


Anonymous said...

Don't many native cultures from extreme climates eat diets incredibly high in saturated fats yet suffer low rates of heart disease? When I was a kid we were "supposed to" replace nasty butterfat with healthier trans-fats. Oops.

Alex Lewin said...

I'd bet money that they will go on to "discover" that low-fat diets are harmful, statin cholesterol drugs do more harm than good, genetically modified foods mess up our immune systems, excessive soy messes up our endocrine systems, and hormone-antibiotic meat eggs and dairy make us sick. Oops.

They could have just asked me--I would have told them. Except, of course, they could not have, because this would not have been scientific.

I'd recommend reading _Nutrition And Physical Degeneration_, by Weston A. Price. The observations he makes in the book are fairly jaw-dropping. To your point about cultures in extreme climates, he visited some and observed exactly what you mention.

Anonymous said...

Finally, science is moving in the right direction. I can't wait until a clever law student puts together a good old-fashioned lawsuit against the propagators of the 'low-fat' mantra. It's the only thing that will get big business's and the government's attention.
kids diet: Brkfst- box cereal, low-fat or skim milk, oj
kids snack two hours later: goldfish or some other insta-carb product
kids lunch: Don't even get me started.
kids dinner: most of it out of a box, or from animals that ate GMO corn/soy

All this while their digestive systems are only just forming. It's so destructive.

Without fat, the vending machine business flourishes, since people can't go two hours without needing more insta-energy. The sad part is really that it is all intentional.

Alex Lewin said...


There was a study done in which one group of rats was fed corn flakes, and another group was fed the cardboard box from the cornflakes. The cardboard-eating rats lived longer.

Go here and search for "cardboard":

Sam Montana said...

This is certainly a big meta-analysis, plenty of people in these studies. So saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease. Than what does clog the arteries. Certainly a low-fat diet doesn’t clog the arteries; that would be like saying eating a mainly vegetable diet would cause heart disease, and that would be untrue.

There is unhealthy low-fat and healthy low-fat, so saying all low-fat diets is unhealthy would be wrong. Trans-fats are different than saturated fats, keep that in mind.

One thing that is certain, our food is far too loaded with processed chemical non-foods like the antibiotic, hormone, msg flavor enhancers and too much fructose in foods it shouldn’t be in. But you cant say that causes heart disease since heart disease was around before these chemically processed junk foods.

Maybe it is just being overweight that causes heart disease, the body fat, the belly fat that clogs the arteries. Eat too many carbs you get overweight. Eat too much saturated fat and you get overweight and loaded with belly fat.

Alex Lewin said...

Sam, I agree, this study doesn't say anything about what DOES cause heart disease. I don't think we should discount any possible causes.

You say "[c]ertainly a low-fat diet doesn't clog the arteries". What makes you so certain? Refined grains and sugars are relatively new to the human diet. Animal fats have been part of our diet for much longer.

I agree that trans-fats and non-foods are a huge problem. And again, are you certain that heart disease predates chemically processed foods? Trans-fats became popular in the US at the beginning of the 1900s (Crisco).

Sam Montana said...

Alex, that is a great point about Crisco. As a kid I remember that being used a lot in the 1960s and 70s.

Saying any kind of low-fat diet is bad is too general. Refined grains and simple sugars do add to the overweight/obesity problem. But a healthy low-fat diet could also mean grass-fed beef, beans, lentils and a lot of vegetables. That is the type of low-fat diet I was speaking about that shouldn’t be unhealthy. Just like there are good carbs and bad carbs, not all carbs are unhealthy.

The low-fat craze could have been healthy until the food companies and marketing got to it. Low fat foods then added all kinds of junk to the foods to make them taste better. Everyone (me included in the 80s) was fooling themselves when they felt healthy about eating low fat donuts and cookies and now we know looking back.

As consumers, we are once again wondering what in the heck is healthy to eat and what causes heart disease. Salt could be a major cause, I think the sodium level in processed foods has dramatically increased in the past few decades. Marketing and politics have a lot to do with food trends, and we are already starting to see the marketing for lower sodium foods. I am not yet ready to believe people like Dr Eads that eating a ton of saturated fat is actually healthy and will clear the arteries and heal the liver.

Alex Lewin said...

There are some who would say that in order to get proper nutrition, and in order to get sufficient fat-soluble vitamins, you need a moderate amount of fat in your diet--far more than any of the low-fat folks recommend. Not something we're going to settle here and now. :-) But I think you would be interested in reading just the first 70 pages or so of Sally Fallon's book, _Nourishing Traditions_. It's the best nutrition writing I've come across.

Your point about the health food companies and marketing is a good point. Basically, they make money selling stuff that's manufactured or cultivated on a large scale--and as it turns out, almost nothing that's possible to produce on a large scale is actually healthy to eat!

Here's a good one: