Have you ever bought a low-fat yogurt or milk trying to be health conscious? Ever avoided eating eggs or the yolk for fear of cholesterol? Ever been told to buy margarine instead of butter to reduce your cholesterol? Even by your doctor?
Everything you currently think about fat and it’s affect on cholesterol and your heart, is mostly bullshit. It’s a pretty big stuff up, but it’s not your fault.
The bad news is that the generation before us messed up the science, was influenced by big money and steered us in the direction of an obesity crisis. The good news is, now we know that they did the wrong things and we can see the fraudulent science, we can start to change our habits and teach the new generation the correct things.
Popular schools of thought;
- Saturated fats cause coronary heart disease (CHD)
- High Cholesterol causes CHD
- Polyunsaturated fats are good for you
All of the above things, are potentially false. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try and break this down for you. I am starting with Saturated fats/animal fats and the idea that they cause heart disease.
Some people are already checking out of this article. Lots of people don’t know the difference between types of fats and some likely don’t think it matters. It does matter and I’ll try and break it down for you.
Different types of fats are a combination of different molecules. Their pattern determines the types of fats they are and how they are broken down.
Saturated fats have molecules that are neatly stacked together and because of this they are able to be solid at room temperature. When heated, the fats melt. Saturated fats includes animal fats like butter & lard and also coconut oil.
Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temp. They are more solid when cooled but are not stable, with the potential for free radicals. Eg. Olive oil, peanut oil and canola oil.
Polyunsaturated fats are liquid all of the time. They are highly refined oil (deodorised, washed with toxins) and they are highly unstable oils. They include things like corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.
Where did this idea that ‘Saturated fats are bad’ come from?
In the 1960’s the growing number of heart attacks was on the rise (there were around 500,000 reported deaths from CVD in 1960). The public attention was shifting towards heart disease prevention and cure.
This is when Dr Ansel Keys along with his team of scientists created The Diet Heart Hypothesis (or Lipid Hypothesis). It was created to explain the increase in CHD. He was able to convince the American Heart Association that cholesterol & saturated fat leads to atherosclerosis, which then leads to Cardiovascular Heart Diseases and then eventually death. He urged them to guide the public to avoid saturated fats.
There were significant problems with this study. Dr Keys only chose the data that he wanted to show his hypothesis was correct. He cherry picked countries from his study that helped to support his argument. Once they reintroduced all the countries into the study, the correlation between saturated fats, cholesterol and heart disease was no longer existent.
In any case, it didn’t matter. Keys was still able to convince the American Heart Association to introduce guidelines that alerted consumers to decrease their fat intake and to increase their consumption of carbohydrates. The guidelines also urged the public to conform to the Prudent Diet; stop consuming animal fats and to start consuming vegetable oils instead. The food pyramid which we all know so well from our school years was drilled into our minds. Large amounts of carbohydrates and less amounts of fat. The idea being that this would help to reduce our risk of heart disease, but in reality we were just eating more and more carbohydrates.
In 1984 there was a National Cholesterol Consensus Conference which created a set point of unhealthy cholesterol which suddenly included large numbers of normal, healthy people and gave them a disease; “hypercholesterolemia.”
This new disease now included about half the population. It led to “National Cholesterol Education Program” for all physicians to promote veg oils and statins to patients and The National Institute of Health promoted the “Prudent Diet” for all people above 2 yrs of age (even though there was no evidence to support the claim).
Now everyone was consuming very high amounts of carbohydrates and barely any animal fats.
On the contrary, an ongoing study in the town of Framingham, United States has shown that there is no evidence of link between CHD and animal fat consumption. Former Director of the Framingham Study, Dr George Mann stated…”the public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century…” That is – the idea that animal fats are bad for your heart.
Other evidence was also able to show that there was no evidence that consuming these types of fats led to heart disease;
- 1957: no link with animal fat
- 1972: Honolulu study – no link with CHD and animal fat
- 2001: Systematic review – no evidence of CHD and animal fat
- 2005: Malmo Diet & Cancer Study: examined 28,000 middle age people for 5 years, no evidence
“ …found that people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories actually weighed the least and were the most physically active.”
So the important conclusion of all this; current evidence does not support guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fats and low consumption of total saturated fats.
The guidelines about eating a high carbohydrate and low fat diet is misinforming the public and has had devastating consequences.
In fact, Dr Ansel Keys’ “The Lipid Hypothesis” has shown to be more than a half century global human experiment: a terrible failure. An experiment that has led to horrendous, generational consequences. Things like obesity, diabetes and possibly the worst of all, it didn’t help to lower the heart disease risk.
The public mind is still swayed towards a “low-fat” diet. Foods are processed, removed of fat and replaced with carbohydrate. People are still looking for ways to reduce their cholesterol and they do this by lowering their fat intake. They stopped eating egg yolks thinking that it would decrease their cholesterol (which is the most nutrient dense part of an egg!). They started buying margarine instead of butter (which is made from nasty chemicals and trans fats) and they taught the next generation the same things. Now we have generations of people who are scared to eat fat and are much more likely to head towards sugar instead.
The scariest part about this is that saturated fat doesn’t contribute to cholesterol problems! Even if it did, having high cholesterol doesn’t lead to heart attacks and death in most people.
Fat and cholesterol are so important in our diets for many reasons and we cannot avoid them. They don’t cause heart disease. They won’t make you fat.
Learn to love animal fats and implement them in your diet. They are great sources of protein, a huge variety of vitamins and minerals and besides, it just tastes better.
More to come on cholesterol soon.