In 1955, an American scientist known as Ancel Keys presented his Diet-lipid-heart disease hypothesis at a meeting of the World Health Organisation in Geneva. This prompted members of the American Heart Association to appear on a television program in 1956 suggesting that large amounts of butter, lard, eggs and beef were a major cause of heart disease. This prompted the American government to recommend people adopt a low-fat diet in order to prevent heart disease.
Western culture has believed this nonsense ever since. The low-fat message has made billions of dollars for the food industry, creating processed packaged food sitting on a shelf for three months with a use by date, with graffiti written on the side of the box such as low-fat or no cholesterol. There are still many experts in the medical and nutritional field who continue to demean saturated fat and cling on to the belief that there is a link between high saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease.
In 2002, I wrote a book, “The Cell Factor”, where I clearly stated, based on a 27 trial meta-analysis published in the British medical Journal, that the link between saturated fat and heart disease was tenuous.
In 2013, Dr Maryanne Demasi was vilified by the medical profession and the nutritional world when she presented two segments on the ABC television show, Catalyst, suggesting there was no link between saturated fats and heart disease. 12 months later, the prestigious university, Cambridge in the UK, published a meta-analysis of 72 trials involving 600,000 participants showing clearly there was no link between the intake of saturated fat and heart disease. There were some criticisms of the methodology of this meta-analysis but the results were still rather striking.
Only a few weeks ago, the results of the PURE study conducted by the well-respected Professor Salim Yusuf examined 135,335 people in 18 countries and followed them up for 7.4 years. Over the time there were 5796 deaths and 4784 major cardiovascular events. The study’s findings were quite surprising but again reinforce the same message. Those participants with the highest carbohydrate intake (74 to 80% of calories) had a 28% increased risk for death over the study period. A carbohydrate intake between 65.7 to 69.7%, a 17% increase and up to 62.3% there was no significant increased death risk.
The study also showed that a high intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes were beneficial but all other carbohydrates were not. The study also showed that raw vegetables were better than cooked vegetables.
In my opinion, the most interesting part of the study was the analysis of fat intake when related to cardiovascular events. There was no link whatsoever between total fat or saturated fat intake and cardiovascular events. When the highest intake versus the lowest intake of fat was compared there was a 23% reduction in all cause death and for saturated fat, a 14% reduction, monounsaturated fat a 19% reduction and polyunsaturated fat a 20% reduction.
When looking at the upper levels of saturated fat intake compared with those consuming a low saturated fat intake there was a significant reduction in death and a very low saturated fat intake was actually found to be harmful.
With all the evidence I have presented above, it is now time to finally conclude that the low fat con job that has been shoved down our throats for the past 60 years should be put in the dustbin of bad medical history.
Over the past 60 years coinciding with this ridiculous message has been growing rates of obesity and diabetes because people are shifting their food intake to carbohydrates rather than fats. The only poor quality fat is trans-fats which emanates from the hydrogenation of vegetables used by the food industry to thicken and harden food so it can sit in a box for a few months with a use by date. Also, don’t be conned by the food companies that write “no trans fats” on the side of the box. They are purely using a different form of processing known as inter-esterification to thicken and harden the food and the poor health effects are no different.
Regarding diets, it is very straightforward. The best form of eating is to follow a low-calorie, high-quality fat, high-quality protein and high-quality carbohydrate diet, in a balanced form. This is best demonstrated by the Mediterranean diet which encourages regular fruit and vegetables, Olive oil, nuts, meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
The Mediterranean diet is the best studied diet in the world showing anywhere between a 30 to 50% reduction in all modern diseases. The evidence is overwhelming from a number of studies and hopefully we will no longer hear anyone discussing the poor health effects of saturated fat. It’s very difficult to change an attitude that has been a core belief in society for many years but being able to do so is the mark of an intelligent person.