Three recent medical articles published in the British Medical Journal clear saturated fats as the cause of heart disease. I am hopeful that this myth which has pervaded dietary advice for half a century is finally being laid to rest.
Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a New York clinical pharmacist, wrote in a March 5 2014 editorial that:
• The 1950s study by Ansel Keys on which the saturated fat - heart disease theory is based is flawed because Keys selected data from only 6 countries that fit his hypothesis, excluding 16 countries which didn’t.
• Study after study have failed to show that reducing saturated fats is protective from heart disease or stroke.
• Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated (PUFA) Omega 6 fats (e.g. canola, corn and safflower oil) increases risk of cancer and heart disease.
• Diets high in refined carbohydrates, not saturated fats, are responsible for rising rates of obesity and diabetes.
A study published in February 2013 took a new look at data from the 1966-73 Sydney Diet Heart Study and concluded:
• Reducing saturated fats showed no cardiovascular benefit.
• Substituting LA (linoleic acid, an Omega-6 PUFA) for saturated fats increased the rates of death from heart disease and all causes.
• Previous studies showing cardiovascular benefits can be explained by an increase in Omega-3, not a decrease in saturated fats or an increase in Omega 6.
• Reducing saturated fats reduced total cholesterol but did not reduce the risk of heart attacks and death, so the cholesterol-heart disease theory is not supported.
In October 2013 Aseem Malhotra, a UK cardiologist, wrote in an editorial: “recent prospective cohort studies have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk…instead, saturated fat has been found to be protective.”
In summary for cardiovascular health:
• saturated fats (animal fat, butter, coconut oil) are neutral or somewhat beneficial
• Omega-6 PUFAs (most vegetable oils) are harmful
• Omega-3 PUFAs (fish oils, flax oil) are beneficial
• trans fatty acids (shortening, hard margarines) are harmful
• monounsaturated fats like olive oil are beneficial (part of the famous Mediterranean diet)
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.