Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal:

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RF Pictures/Corbis

“Saturated fat does not cause heart disease”—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.

The new study’s conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

Our distrust of saturated fat can be traced back to the 1950s, to a man named Ancel Benjamin Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Keys was formidably persuasive and, through sheer force of will, rose to the top of the nutrition world—even gracing the cover of Time magazine—for relentlessly championing the idea that saturated fats raise cholesterol and, as a result, cause heart attacks.

This idea fell on receptive ears because, at the time, Americans faced a fast-growing epidemic. Heart disease, a rarity only three decades earlier, had quickly become the nation’s No. 1 killer. Even President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955. Researchers were desperate for answers.

As the director of the largest nutrition study to date, Dr. Keys was in an excellent position to promote his idea. The “Seven Countries” study that he conducted on nearly 13,000 men in the U.S., Japan and Europe ostensibly demonstrated that heart disease wasn’t the inevitable result of aging but could be linked to poor nutrition.

Critics have pointed out that Dr. Keys violated several basic scientific norms in his study. For one, he didn’t choose countries randomly but instead selected only those likely to prove his beliefs, including Yugoslavia, Finland and Italy. Excluded were France, land of the famously healthy omelet eater, as well as other countries where people consumed a lot of fat yet didn’t suffer from high rates of heart disease, such as Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany. The study’s star subjects—upon whom much of our current understanding of the Mediterranean diet is based—were peasants from Crete, islanders who tilled their fields well into old age and who appeared to eat very little meat or cheese.

As it turns out, Dr. Keys visited Crete during an unrepresentative period of extreme hardship after World War II. Furthermore, he made the mistake of measuring the islanders’ diet partly during Lent, when they were forgoing meat and cheese. Dr. Keys therefore undercounted their consumption of saturated fat. Also, due to problems with the surveys, he ended up relying on data from just a few dozen men—far from the representative sample of 655 that he had initially selected. These flaws weren’t revealed until much later, in a 2002 paper by scientists investigating the work on Crete—but by then, the misimpression left by his erroneous data had become international dogma.

In 1961, Dr. Keys sealed saturated fat’s fate by landing a position on the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association, whose dietary guidelines are considered the gold standard. Although the committee had originally been skeptical of his hypothesis, it issued, in that year, the country’s first-ever guidelines targeting saturated fats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture followed in 1980.

Other studies ensued. A half-dozen large, important trials pitted a diet high in vegetable oil—usually corn or soybean, but not olive oil—against one with more animal fats. But these trials, mainly from the 1970s, also had serious methodological problems. Some didn’t control for smoking, for instance, or allowed men to wander in and out of the research group over the course of the experiment. The results were unreliable at best.

But there was no turning back: Too much institutional energy and research money had already been spent trying to prove Dr. Keys’s hypothesis. A bias in its favor had grown so strong that the idea just started to seem like common sense. As Harvard nutrition professor Mark Hegsted said in 1977, after successfully persuading the U.S. Senate to recommend Dr. Keys’s diet for the entire nation, the question wasn’t whether Americans should change their diets, but why not? Important benefits could be expected, he argued. And the risks? “None can be identified,” he said.

In fact, even back then, other scientists were warning about the diet’s potential unintended consequences. Today, we are dealing with the reality that these have come to pass.

One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970s. Consumption of saturated fat, meanwhile, has dropped by 11%, according to the best available government data. Translation: Instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we’re eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Even seemingly healthy low-fat foods, such as yogurt, are stealth carb-delivery systems, since removing the fat often requires the addition of fillers to make up for lost texture—and these are usually carbohydrate-based.

The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.

The real surprise is that, according to the best science to date, people put themselves at higher risk for these conditions no matter what kind of carbohydrates they eat. Yes, even unrefined carbs. Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do.

The second big unintended consequence of our shift away from animal fats is that we’re now consuming more vegetable oils. Butter and lard had long been staples of the American pantry until Crisco, introduced in 1911, became the first vegetable-based fat to win wide acceptance in U.S. kitchens. Then came margarines made from vegetable oil and then just plain vegetable oil in bottles.

All of these got a boost from the American Heart Association—which Procter & Gamble, the maker of Crisco oil, coincidentally helped launch as a national organization. In 1948, P&G made the AHA the beneficiary of the popular “Walking Man” radio contest, which the company sponsored. The show raised $1.7 million for the group and transformed it (according to the AHA’s official history) from a small, underfunded professional society into the powerhouse that it remains today.

After the AHA advised the public to eat less saturated fat and switch to vegetable oils for a “healthy heart” in 1961, Americans changed their diets. Now these oils represent 7% to 8% of all calories in our diet, up from nearly zero in 1900, the biggest increase in consumption of any type of food over the past century.

This shift seemed like a good idea at the time, but it brought many potential health problems in its wake. In those early clinical trials, people on diets high in vegetable oil were found to suffer higher rates not only of cancer but also of gallstones. And, strikingly, they were more likely to die from violent accidents and suicides. Alarmed by these findings, the National Institutes of Health convened researchers several times in the early 1980s to try to explain these “side effects,” but they couldn’t. (Experts now speculate that certain psychological problems might be related to changes in brain chemistry caused by diet, such as fatty-acid imbalances or the depletion of cholesterol.)

We’ve also known since the 1940s that when heated, vegetable oils create oxidation products that, in experiments on animals, lead to cirrhosis of the liver and early death. For these reasons, some midcentury chemists warned against the consumption of these oils, but their concerns were allayed by a chemical fix: Oils could be rendered more stable through a process called hydrogenation, which used a catalyst to turn them from oils into solids.

From the 1950s on, these hardened oils became the backbone of the entire food industry, used in cakes, cookies, chips, breads, frostings, fillings, and frozen and fried food. Unfortunately, hydrogenation also produced trans fats, which since the 1970s have been suspected of interfering with basic cellular functioning and were recently condemned by the Food and Drug Administration for their ability to raise our levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Yet paradoxically, the drive to get rid of trans fats has led some restaurants and food manufacturers to return to using regular liquid oils—with the same long-standing oxidation problems. These dangers are especially acute in restaurant fryers, where the oils are heated to high temperatures over long periods.

The past decade of research on these oxidation products has produced a sizable body of evidence showing their dramatic inflammatory and oxidative effects, which implicates them in heart disease and other illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. Other newly discovered potential toxins in vegetable oils, called monochloropropane diols and glycidol esters, are now causing concern among health authorities in Europe.

In short, the track record of vegetable oils is highly worrisome—and not remotely what Americans bargained for when they gave up butter and lard.

Cutting back on saturated fat has had especially harmful consequences for women, who, due to hormonal differences, contract heart disease later in life and in a way that is distinct from men. If anything, high total cholesterol levels in women over 50 were found early on to be associated with longer life. This counterintuitive result was first discovered by the famous Framingham study on heart-disease risk factors in 1971 and has since been confirmed by other research.

Since women under 50 rarely get heart disease, the implication is that women of all ages have been worrying about their cholesterol levels needlessly. Yet the Framingham study’s findings on women were omitted from the study’s conclusions. And less than a decade later, government health officials pushed their advice about fat and cholesterol on all Americans over age 2—based exclusively on data from middle-aged men.

Sticking to these guidelines has meant ignoring growing evidence that women on diets low in saturated fat actually increase their risk of having a heart attack. The “good” HDL cholesterol drops precipitously for women on this diet (it drops for men too, but less so). The sad irony is that women have been especially rigorous about ramping up on their fruits, vegetables and grains, but they now suffer from higher obesity rates than men, and their death rates from heart disease have reached parity.

Seeing the U.S. population grow sicker and fatter while adhering to official dietary guidelines has put nutrition authorities in an awkward position. Recently, the response of many researchers has been to blame “Big Food” for bombarding Americans with sugar-laden products. No doubt these are bad for us, but it is also fair to say that the food industry has simply been responding to the dietary guidelines issued by the AHA and USDA, which have encouraged high-carbohydrate diets and until quite recently said next to nothing about the need to limit sugar.

Indeed, up until 1999, the AHA was still advising Americans to reach for “soft drinks,” and in 2001, the group was still recommending snacks of “gum-drops” and “hard candies made primarily with sugar” to avoid fatty foods.

Our half-century effort to cut back on the consumption of meat, eggs and whole-fat dairy has a tragic quality. More than a billion dollars have been spent trying to prove Ancel Keys’s hypothesis, but evidence of its benefits has never been produced. It is time to put the saturated-fat hypothesis to bed and to move on to test other possible culprits for our nation’s health woes.

Ms. Teicholz has been researching dietary fat and disease for nearly a decade. Her book, “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” will be published by Simon & Schuster on May 13.

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2 thoughts on “Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

  1. Hello, I have some very important information for you, if you would, please share it with as many people as you can as soon as possible.

    No Well Waters are safe or suitable for animal consumption and plant growth, because one small glass of Well Water, on average, contains the Fluoride equivalent of one pea sized dab of Fluoridated Toothpaste, Fluorides are harmful in any amount, and there is almost always more than 0.7 parts per million of Fluoride in all Well Waters.

    We have effectively increased our exposure to Fluorides on average by 50,000% when we choose to expose our selves to this water source, that is in comparison to the majority of our evolutionary history of drinking surface waters that contain which contain roughly 500x less fluoride, although, some wells may even be contaminated with levels as high as 12+ ppm.

    I believe that most people do not understand the science of why fluoride’s are so dangerous, so I’d like to explain why, but first I’d like to point out the fact that we are the only life on this planet to dig deep holes in the ground to obtain water to drink, at least deep enough to contaminate our water with high levels of fluoride in this way.

    The safest alternative is distilled water, or rain water (I suggest a collection time during long periods of rain to avoid polluted air contamination), filters like reverse osmosis do not do enough and they hardly filter the majority of fluorides at all because most naturally occurring fluorides are relatively small compounds, but they may help filter many larger fluoride compounds like those which may be additionally added to water supplies by many city water suppliers. Regardless of which fluorides are getting through, distilled water, or rain, will remove them all, except those leached into water droplets through out atmosphere, rain will be especially vulnerable to this and there are about 50 parts per billion of hydrogen fluoride / other fluoride gasses in our atmosphere, but rain collected should contain less than 0.008 parts per million of fluorides on average.

    So, why are fluorides dangerous…?

    Besides specific bond formations that may occur within the body and disrupt normal biological processes, like that of calcium bonds in our bones rather than our teeth due to excessive fluorides in the blood stream, here is the key issue behind fluorides disastrous effects, which continue be disastrous even after bonds like this occur.

    “Electronegativity”, which is the tendency to draw in electron mass, is a fundamental atomic property of all the elements on the periodic table, out of all these 118 elements of the Periodic Table, the element fluorine has the highest Electronegativity, and, more importantly, one eighth of the entire spectrum of Electronegativy for these Elements on the Periodic Table, is a gap between Element Oxygen, and Element Fluorine.

    Let me just repeat that once again…

    1/8th, of the entire spectrum of Electronegativity, for the elements on the periodic table, is a gap, between elements oxygen and fluorine.

    That kind of Electronegative energy, drawing in electrons in a biological system, (which is a finely tuned system of exchanging electrons), will extremely distort functions of biological systems, especially systems that have not evolved to cope with the levels of Fluoride they are being exposed to.

    We are 70% water like most life on this planet, and only throughout roughly the last 100,000 years or so have we begun digging these holes in the ground to obtain water.

    Evolution does not occur rapidly enough for this fluoride contaminated water to really be called “safe” by now, one quick example of the the slow progression of evolution is that we split from Chimpanzee’s / Bonobo’s nearly 7 million years ago.

    There is roughly 500 times less fluoride in natural sources of water like rain, or springs, even rivers and lakes, than there is in this water from holes in the ground. Drinking and using this water for farming, globally, is destroying our bodies, developing a wide spectrum of health issues for us, our pets, and our plants, I’m sure you’ve noticed we are the only wild animals getting cancer.

    A good example of the powerful Electronegativity that the Element Fluorine has is when experiments are done in it’s pure state as a Gas, in this state, it is so reactive, that almost any substance, Glass, Metals, or even WATER, BURN, with a Bright Flame in a Jet of Fluorine Gas, WITHOUT the need for a Spark.

    This incredibly high Electronegativite Energy still lingers even after Fluorine forms a bond with positive ions, and these are what we call “Fluoride’s”.

    Among the wide spectrum of various health Issues fluoride can cause, Cancer is a big one, but i’d like to focus on another not so obvious symptom of fluoride exposure.

    I think it is crucial to understand this particular issue, i’ll start with the fact that we are 70% water, we need a lot of water each and every day, and our body can detect the amounts of Fluoride, along with the minerals that end up in our water as it is processed for use in the blood stream, and if this amount is higher than the natural levels we have evolved to cope with, our brains have evolved a coping mechanism which attempts to put a damper on precious processes such as higher cognitive functions involved with imagination, functions that are involved with implementing new neurons, or functions that strengthen new neurons and neurons already in use for more reliable access. This damper is done as a way to preserve these functions for more significant moments, which will be judged by your conscious thought and with emotions, rather than just allowing these functions to be used all the time, because doing so would damage neurons your trying to strengthen if there are fluorides present in the blood stream. (this is hard for me to explain so I hope you understand.)

    This damper is the reason why cognitive dissonance occurs in the minds of so many people, many of us who are so heavily poisoned by these fluorides would much rather rely on a set of neurons that are already hardwired and therefore reliable, than to risk developing new ones that may be distorted by the presence of excessive amounts of fluorides.

    Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, are emotions that help you to overcome this damper that the Human Brain Implements, these emotions help your conscious mind in ways that get you “worked up” enough to use these higher cognitive functions, it is like forcing your brain to use these parts it’s trying to preserve (imagination and functions that are involved with implementing new neurons) because your consciously telling it that you think what your doing is extremely important. A good example of this, is if your having a discussion with your boss at work and he is noticeably upset because you didn’t do your job right, you’ll stress your self out over this kind of event in order to strengthen particular neurons for more reliable access so it won’t happen again.

    That sort of behavior can cause someone to act impulsively, i’m sure you’ve seen it many times even with your self, we want to stick to a set of reliable and hardwired neurons, as if we know it all and we don’t need improvement on our methods or awareness of particular things… and many times cognitive dissonance will occur as we try to avoid stress, anxiety, and depression, as we are met with concepts perhaps true, which seem counter intuitive to us.

    To make it short, excessive fluoride in the blood stream can literally makes it stressful to try to imagine and develop new ways of thinking… Your brain is telling you not too do something via these emotions, because of fluorides present in your blood stream, and unless you overcome this stress with your conscious judgement of importance, like realization of truth and excitement for learning this truth, cognitive dissonance will occur.

    Money, and other various ways of cultures, will keep us plugging along sticking to Hardwired Neurons doing something we wish we weren’t doing, or preforming a job which barely pays at all, perhaps worthless and unsustainable as well. There are many various ways our cultures promote these bad ideas, among each other in this adversity, must stand up for the rights of our planet, to live sustainability, to do so we must use our consciousness to it’s utmost potential, that means getting off of fluoride as soon as possible…. that’s the first step I believe. Money is evil in the sense that it is a false incentive and provides many unconscious opportunity’s for the destruction of our planet, it will promote the success of particular neurons, meanwhile demoting others, and we rewarded our selves self chemically when we receive “money” for doing a job right, or when we receive / spend / have money, this strengthens those neurons even further, it’s all about money sometimes, and not the actual thing it’s self.

    Rain (Like Distillation) = Averages 0.008 ppm (parts per million) fluoride.
    Surface Waters (For example, Lakes, Rivers, Springs) = Averages 0.05 ppm fluoride.
    Bottled Water = Averages 0.1 ppm fluoride.
    Well Water = Ranges from 0.7 – 12+ ppm fluoride .
    Tap Water = Ranges from 0.7 – 12+ ppm fluoride (In america, the maximum allowance is 4.0 ppm, regulated by the FDA).

    Additionally fluoridated water supplies often use chemicals we’ve never even come into contact with throughout the last 3.5 billion years of evolution here on earth, for example, chemicals like Sodium fluorosilicate (Na2SiF6)and HydroFluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6). Fluoridation of a public water supply is medication without consent.

    Some Of The Easiest Thing And Most Important Thing You Can And Should Do Immediately to avoid the majority of Fluoride Exposure, Is to drink distilled water, and to avoid tea or tobacco, they both contain very high levels of fluoride.

    Distilled water is very inexpensive, it cost roughly $0.88 for a 1 Gallon jug which is available at nearly every grocery store, otherwise you can order it from a water supplier like “Culigan”, for nearly the same price.

    Please start drinking distilled water, or rain water (collected sometime near the end of a storm, during a long duration of rain preferably, to give time to clean the atmosphere and avoid polluted air contamination) as soon as possible, drink, cook, and process your foods with this water.

    Distilled water and rain water, are the process of evaporating water, collecting and condensing the Vapors, which will leave you with 100% uncontaminated (no dissolved solids) h2o.

    If your worried about not getting enough minerals anymore once you switch to distilled water, let me assure you that if you eat acidic fruits, or add some lime or lemon (Organic) to your distilled water, you will be completeeeely fine… and feeling much better than you were before.

    For water with more alkalinity, you can add coconut water to your distilled water, and there are plenty more options out there for you to try, but a proper food diet is all that is necessary, many fruits will contain all the minerals you need in your diet, Banana, Cantaloupe, Water Melon, etc, fruit is incredibly healthy, especially raw fresh fruit, which happens to contain incredibly low levels of fluoride as well, especially if grown organically.

    Home Water Distilling Units range in Price from 100$ which is sufficient to start drinking, to 1000$ which will be ridiculously efficient, supporting your entire Family and a Home Garden as well, although rain can be very sufficient for a home garden if unpolluted, rain water (<0.008 ppm fluoride)

    If you decide to distill rain, or even reverse osmosis water, you will never have to clean your distillation unit, you will only need to drain the water from the boiling tank occasionally and replace the post filter every 2-5 months.

    Fluorine is in low friction "plastics" such as Teflon which is a molecule comprised of only carbon and fluorine atoms, when Teflon Coated Cookware is Heated, it will release Carbon Fluoride Vapors into the Air or into your Food, do not use Teflon for this reason, and it is well known to cause cancer,

    Aluminum is very dangerous as well, it will increase the toxic build up of Fluorides in the Human Body, avoid aluminum cookware because it aluminum has a low melting point and if scraped, bits of it will end up in your food, small amounts may boil off into water or evaporate like Teflon as well.

    Aluminum is the 3rd most abundant element in the Earth's Crust, and Fluorine is the 13th most abundant element in the Earths Crust: An average of 950 ppm of Fluoride are contained in it. Top Soils contain approximately 330 ppm of Fluorine, ranging from 150 to 400 ppm. Some Soils can have as much as 1000 ppm, and contaminated soils from industrial processes have been found with 3500 ppm.

    Rain water has 0.008 ppm as I've mentioned, and it is what the majority of the water that the Life on this Planet has evolved to cope with, waters are further contaminated when they make contact with the surface of this planet, and the further down those waters go before they are dug up from wells for various human purposes, the more contaminated they are going to be.

    Fluorine that is located in Soils may potentially accumulate in Plants, Especially the Tobacco or Tea plants, i'd like to suggest to you that you avoid exposing your body to these two plants in particular, you can find very credible information on wikipedia about them and their fluoride contamination.

    The amount of uptake of fluoride by Plants depends upon the type of Plant, and the type of Soil, and the amount and type of Fluoride found in the Soil / Water.

    Too much Fluoride, whether taken in from the Soil by Roots, or absorbed from the Atmosphere by the Leaves, retards the growth of Plants and reduces Crop Yields. Growing plants with well water is like pumping the fluoride equivalent of 25 to 100+ tubes of fluoridated tooth paste in with the soil throughout the plants life… that's because well water averages a 0.7 ppm contamination of fluoride… and unfortunately that is what I assume the majority of our foods are grown with at this time.

    With Plants that are Sensitive to Fluoride Exposure, even Low Concentrations of Fluoride can cause Leaf Damage, and a Decline in Growth.

    Although Fluoride was once considered an Essential Nutrient, the U.S. National Research Council has since removed this Designation due to the lack of Studies showing it is essential for Human growth.

    It is important to note that if Fluorides are absorbed too frequently it will cause Calcification of the mammalian Pineal Gland. The Pineal Gland is Biological Filter for Fluoride. It has the most Profuse Blood Flow 2nd only to the Kidneys, with the Highest Concentrations of Fluoride throughout the entire Mammalian Body, ranging from 20,000 ppm to 25,000 ppm.

    Both the Pineal Gland and The Kidneys turn Fluorides from our Diet / Blood Stream (note: Smoking, Vaporizing, Water Vapors in the shower, Air (15-50 ppb) into Calcium Fluorides, which are safer to process out of the body. The Pineal Gland processes built up calcium fluorides to safely exit the body through urine at night, the process involves the molecule n,n-DMT which is produced naturally in the Pineal Gland, many plants contain this molecule, and this molecule is good medicine for decalcification of the Pineal Gland if taken before your sleep as concentrated dried plant matter (nearly boil plant matter containing n,n-DMT, let settle for an hour, scoop off top layer of water and dry it in a glass dish), the urge to urinate will increase and you should wake up to do so accordingly. The molecule n,n-dmt neutralizes the electronegative effects of fluorides in the blood stream by clumping together with fluorides to help them safely exit the body.

    If these two filters cannot handle the fluoride they are being exposed to, then Fluorides may end up in other calcium deposits throughout our bodies, like our Bones, which can cause Skeletal Flurosis, (which may lead to Arthritis or Joint Pains), this may even be the general cause of Arthritis.

    Dental Flurosis (White spots on Teeth) which may lead to Tooth Decay, is an obvious sign of wider systemic damage.

    This information is updated as frequently as I can update it at DamageReport.org

    An obvious indication of a significant reduction in fluoride exposure to your body is remembering your dreams from each time you sleep, and vividly.

    (You are experiencing a subjective reality, and there are many others experiencing a subjective reality as well, but we are all the universe it's self, and so we must not activate neural pain networks.)

    Much Love,

    – И

    • Thanks for the info, I’m no fan of fluoride and the calcification of the pineal gland inhibits what we can achieve and connect with, let alone the negative health benefits. I think Carl Sagan said it right, we are the universe experiencing itself

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