researchers found no clear evidence that higher saturated fat intakes led to higher risks of heart disease or stroke
The saturated fat found mainly in meat and dairy products has been regularly vilified by health professionals and the media, but a new analysis of published studies finds no clear link between people's intake of saturated fat and their risk of developing heart disease. In the new analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition January 13, 2010, which combined the results of 21 previous studies, researchers found no clear evidence that higher saturated fat intakes led to higher risks of heart disease or stroke.
Those who are regular readers of this website over the last few years are well aware of my long standing opinion that saturated fats and cholesterol are not the cause of heart disease and this most recent analysis of the scientific literature has validated this opinion.
The demonization of saturated fat began in 1953 with Dr. Ancel Keys’ publication of a paper comparing fat intake and heart disease mortality, and the misguided ousting of saturated fat has continued ever since.
The idea that saturated fat is bad for your heart became so ingrained in the medical and health community, anyone daring enough to question this dogma was automatically viewed as a quack, regardless of the evidence presented.
Instead, trans fats became all the rage and have since saturated the market. But times are a-changing, and in many ways for the better. Medical scientists have finally begun to take a hard look at the link between saturated fats and heart disease – only to find that there is none.
Additionally, by now many have realized that it’s the trans fat found in margarine, shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that is the true villain, causing far more significant health problems than saturated fat ever could. Trans fats are found in most margarines, chrisps, chips, baked foods, deep fried foods – anywhere where vegetable oils have been heated to high temperatures.
Yet Another Study Finds No Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease
Over the years, researchers have repeatedly failed to find the link between saturated fat and heart disease that Dr. Keys initially thought he had discovered, and this latest study is no exception.
When they pooled data from 21 studies that included nearly 348,000 adults, and surveyed their dietary habits and health events for anywhere from five to 23 years, they found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat.
Most likely, the studies that have linked the so-called “Western diet” to an increased heart disease risk simply confirm that sugar and refined carbohydrates are harmful to your heart health. Because although the Western diet is high in red and processed meats and saturated fats, it’s also alarmingly high in sugar and refined carbs like bread and pasta.
What I found most encouraging in this article was Dr. Eckel’s statement that “the thinking on diet and heart health is moving away from a focus on single nutrients and toward ‘dietary patterns’."
This is precisely the message that needs to get out. You simply cannot optimize your health while staring at individual ingredients or nutrients in your diet. Whole foods – real food that has been minimally processed and manipulated – contain so many symbiotic micronutrients that work together to produce the end result. The moment you start taking these ingredients apart, you lose the overall nutritional value, and you change how the nutrients operate inside your body.
So, essentially, a healthy diet is quite simply a natural diet of REAL foods. And that’s the type of “eating pattern” you’ll want to strive for, if you want to be optimally healthy.
Healthy Fat Tips to Live By
Remember, you do need a certain amount of healthy fat, while at the same time you’ll want to avoid the unhealthy varieties. The easiest way to accomplish this is to simply eliminate processed foods, which are high in all things detrimental to your health: sugar, carbs, and dangerous types of fats. After that, these tips can help ensure you’re eating the right fats for your health:
• Use whole fat block butter instead of margarines and vegetable oil spreads. Butter is a healthy whole food that has received an unwarranted bad rap.
• Use coconut oil or Lard for cooking. It is far superior to any other cooking oil and is loaded with health benefits. (Remember that olive oil should be used COLD, drizzled over salad or fish, for example, not to cook with.)
• To round out your healthy fat intake, be sure to eat raw fats, such as those from avocados, raw dairy products, and olive oil, and also take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat, such as fish oil.
The Bottom Line
The push for low-fat low –cholesterol diets has been going on now for 30 years, yet obesity, Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are in epidemic proportions. It doesn’t work. Yet there is a very large amount of evidence to suggest that its trans fats, sugars and processed carbohydrates that’s behind these modern epidemics. However there is enormous financial interest in low fat/cholesterol food and drugs that its going to take many years to change this common misconception.