The Saturated fat & Cholesterol Myth


For more than half a century, it has been instilled in our brains that cholesterol is something to be feared. Yet it is found in every cell of our bodies and is used in production of cell membranes, vitamin D, hormones and acids needed for digestion of fats. We have been persistently told that high cholesterol diets will lead to heart disease and eventually early death. However the fact is that cholesterol is a highly regulated substance with 75% of the cholesterol present in blood serum being produced by the liver while the remaining 25% is obtained through the daily diet. If the intake of cholesterol is low, the body makes up the deficit and if the intake is high, it produces less! This is why recent studies show that dietary cholesterol has little effect on serum cholesterol levels in an overwhelming & of the population. In the remaining & of the population that it does affect adversely, it does so only mildly and without changing the overall ratio of the “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol” 1

Eggs are considered to be the worst possible food due to the high amount of cholesterol they contain. However, consider the fact that a single egg contains sufficient nutrients to produce a brand new chick, then imagine the nutrients you are being deprived of when the yolk is not consumed. Moreover, recent research indicates that dietary cholesterol does not elevate the blood serum levels of the bad cholesterol. Eggs actually elevate the good cholesterol levels in the blood.5

It is common knowledge that saturated fat causes heart disease. If so, why is there no proof of this? One 2010 scrutiny of more than 20 studies resolved that “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.”2 Additionally, the Women’s Health Initiative used nearly 49 thousand postmenopausal women in their randomized study in which the participants were divided into two groups. One was fed the low fat diet while the other was fed a typical western diet high in saturated fats. No difference in the frequency of cardiovascular disease was detected after having monitored the participants for over eight years.3 A separate study, known as the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT), composed of nearly thirteen thousand men at high risk of heart disease investigated the benefits of low-fat diet versus the standard western diet. Seven years of investigation concluded that there was no difference in the rate of cardiovascular disease occurrence between the group eating the low-fat diet and the group eating standard western diet.4

So where did all this erroneous information come from? It turns out that a University of Minnesota pathologist by the name of Ancel Key used 13,000 middle-aged participants from seven countries to carry out a comparison health and diet study. He concluded that populations consuming hefty quantities of saturated fats had a higher prevalence of heart disease while those populations whose diets were primarily based on nuts, grains, fish and vegetables evaded this. Over the years many scientists tried to challenge his methods of research and the data collected. However, being influential and very vocal, he successfully shot them down each time. In fact, in 1961 he convinced the American Heart Association to come out with recommendations regarding saturated fat for the very first time. It turns out that Key’s manipulated the data to suit his hypothesis. He purposely skipped nations like France, where heart disease is uncommon but diet is abundant in fats.6

Hence, based on numerous new studies, carried out under more strict and scientific conditions, the concept that saturated fat is bad for the heart is nothing more than a myth.

References

1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19852882

2 http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

3 http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=202339

4 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3519736

5 http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=189529

6 http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/time-magazine-we-were-wrong-about-saturated-fats/

 


About Andy

Hi, my name is Dr. Andy Williams and I am a biologist with a keen interest in diet and nutrition. This site was set up to help me explore the research, facts and fiction about Krill Oil. Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions.

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