Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saturated Fat is NOT the Enemy

Ancel Keys was a scientist who was largely responsible for vilifying saturated fats in our diet today. Saturated fats are fatty acids found in meat, eggs, coconuts, butter, cow's milk, and breast milk (you know, that deadly stuff causing baby heart attacks). In the 1950s Dr. Keys hypothesized that cholesterol caused heart disease and that cholesterol was raised by saturated fat in the diet.

After many years, he convinced our government this association was true with a blockbuster paper called "The Seven Countries Study". Unfortunately, his evidence was only based on associations, which scientists are reluctant to call scientific evidence. Also, as part of his data gathering, there were actually 22 countries not just 7. He threw out the evidence from the other 15 countries because their data did not support his hypothesis.

His so called study was seen as such a breakthrough that he was on the cover of Time magazine in 1961. The American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health, and many other scientists fought him but he had the support of politicians. The culmination of his career was in 1980 when the US Department of Agriculture released it's first Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Saturated fats were demonized and unsaturated fats plus carbohydrates starting becoming the foods of choice for filling our bellies. In 1985, unsaturated fats were shoved aside for even more carbohydrates.

Farming subsidies, food stamp programs, school lunches, health class teachings, hospital menus, and prison menus are all based off the Dietary Guidelines for Americans which are updated every 5 years. In 2010, the USDA is calling for even less fat and even more carbohydrates.

It has yet to have been proven that saturated fats cause heart disease. In fact there are some large and recent meta data studies that say the exact opposite. Read at your leisure:

347,000+ Patients. "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 (coronary heart disease) or CVD (cardiovascular disease)."

58,000+ Patients. "No multivariable-adjusted associations were observed between SFA (saturated fatty acids) and mortality from subarachnoid hemorrhage (stroke) and heart disease."

280,000+ Patients. "Intake of total fat was not significantly associated with
CHD (coronary heart disease) mortality...Intake of total fat was also unrelated to CHD events."

Check out this graph:

America eats less fat every year but we continue to get sicker and fatter. The recommended Standard American Diet (SAD) is based on bad science.



Fred Hahn said...

Amazing how many good articles and blogs are out on this subject and yet the concept gets very little big press.

Chuck said...

the more the truth gets out the more good press it will get. we gotta keep on keepin on.