6 Graphs That Show Why The “War” on Fat Was a Huge Mistake

The “war” on saturated fat is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition.

As people have reduced their intake of animal fat and cholesterol, many serious diseases have gone up.

We are now in the midst of worldwide pandemics of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.

Man at a Restaurant Eating Steak

Studies conducted in the past few decades conclusively show that neither saturated fat nor dietary cholesterol cause harm in humans (1, 2, 3, 4).

Scientists are now beginning to realize that the entire low-fat dogma was based on flawed studies that have since been thoroughly debunked.

Here are 6 graphs that clearly show how incredibly damaging it has been to advise people to reduce their consumption of animal fat.

1. In Europe, The Countries That Eat The Most Saturated Fat Have The Lowest Risk of Heart Disease

Saturated Fat and Heart Disease in Europe

Data from: Hoenselaar R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.

Have you ever heard of the “French Paradox“?

It is a phrase used to describe the seemingly “paradoxical” fact that French people have a low risk of heart disease, while eating a diet that is high in saturated fat.

Well… here is the European paradox, where there is simply no correlation between saturated fat consumption and heart disease deaths in different countries in Europe.

If anything, the countries eating more saturated fat have a lower risk of dying from heart disease.

The reason for this is simple, actually… the truth is that saturated fat simply has NOTHING to do with cardiovascular disease. There is no paradox. It was a myth all along (5).

Thanks to Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt for the enhanced graph.

2. The Obesity Epidemic in The USA Started at Almost The Exact Same Time The Low-Fat Dietary Guidelines Were Published

Low Fat Guidelines and Obesity Epidemic

Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.

Back in the year 1977, the low-fat diet was recommended to all Americans. Looking back, it is interesting to see that the obesity epidemic started at almost the exact same time the guidelines first came out.

Although this graph doesn’t prove anything (correlation does not equal causation), this does make sense because people started giving up traditional foods like butter, in place of processed “low-fat” foods high in sugar.

Since then, many massive studies have been conducted on the low-fat diet. These studies show clearly that the low-fat diet does not cause weight loss and has zero effect on cardiovascular disease in the long term (6, 7, 8).

Despite the poor results in the studies, this diet is still recommended by nutrition organizations all over the world.

3. Diets That Are High in Fat But Low in Carbohydrates Cause More Weight Loss Than Diets That Are Low in Fat

Weight Loss Graph, Low Carb vs Low Fat

Source: Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003.

If animal fat was as bad as they say, then diets that contain a lot of it should be both fattening and harmful to your health. However, the studies do NOT back this up.

In the study above, women eating a low-carb, high-fat diet until fullness lost more than twice as much weight as women eating a calorie restricted low-fat diet.

The truth is, diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to much better results than low-fat, high carb diets.

Not only do they cause more weight loss, but they also lead to big improvements in pretty much all the major risk factors for diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes (9, 10, 11).

4. The Diseases of Civilization Increased as Butter and Lard Were Replaced With Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

Fat Consumption in USA

Source: Dr. Stephan Guyenet. The American Diet. 2012.

In the 20th century, several serious diseases became common in humans.

The heart disease epidemic started around 1930, the obesity epidemic started in 1980 and the diabetes epidemic started around 1990.

Even though these diseases were almost unheard of before, they have now become the biggest health problems in the world, killing millions of people per year.

It is clear from the graph above, that these diseases have skyrocketed as animal fats have been replaced with shortening, margarine and processed vegetable oils.

5. The Obesity Epidemic Started as People Reduced Their Intake of Red Meat and High-Fat Dairy products

Fatty Food Consumption From 1980 to 1990

Source: Hu FB, et al. Trends in the Incidence of Coronary Heart Disease and Changes in Diet and Lifestyle in Women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2000.

It amazes me that some people still blame traditional foods like meat and butter for the diseases of civilization.

These foods have sustained humans in good health for a very long time and blaming new diseases on old foods just doesn’t make sense.

All the data shows that people actually reduced their consumption of these foods as these diseases went up.

The graph above, from the Nurses Health Study, shows that Americans were reducing their intake of red meat and full-fat dairy at the same time the obesity epidemic was starting.

6. In The Framingham Heart Study, Heart Disease Goes up as People Replace Heart-Healthy Butter With Toxic Margarine

Butter vs Margarine, Stephan Guyenet - Larger

Source: Gillman MW, et al. Margarine intake and subsequent coronary heart disease in men. Epidemiology, 1997. Photo source: Whole Health Source.

Back when everyone started pointing the finger at saturated fat as the cause of heart disease, butter and other high-fat dairy products were demonized.

Nutrition professionals all over the world started telling people to replace butter with margarine… which was low in saturated fat, but high in man-made trans fats.

As with so many of the “truths” in nutrition, this ended up having the exact opposite result. Whereas saturated fat is harmless, trans fats are highly toxic (12, 13, 14).

In the graph above, based on the Framingham Heart Study, you can see how heart disease risk goes up as people eat less butter and more margarine instead.

For some very strange reason, many health organizations are still recommending that we avoid heart-healthy butter and replace it with processed margarine.

79 Comments

  1. I took a snippet from a Youtube video that’s a chart of “Death Rates vs Cholesterol Levels” from a World Health Organization study. The higher the cholesterol level the lower the death rate. You can see the chart here:

    http://bebrainfit.com/lifestyle/drains/exposed-why-cholesterol-doesnt-cause-heart-disease/

    • There is no research cited in your link Diane. There is also none cited it the above article either. Anyone who understands that pretty graphs and figures do not prove anything without validated research to back up their claims will not take this article seriously.

      • You are right, pretty graphs alone don’t prove anything.

        But there are actually quite a few studies cited in the article above (in the brackets behind the paragraphs). There are also links to other articles from this site, which explain all these points in much more detail with a ton of references.

        • People like “Dve” always say there is no research, yet there is lots of research that backs up the correlation between the reduction in fat intake and increasing chronic disease. Just do a search on pubmed, or read alsearsmd.com and the websites of the few other clear-headed integrative physicians who have been talking about this for years.

          • I’m sorry, I’m having a hard time finding what either of you are speaking of. Please paste links to the peer reviewed research that your article discusses. I’m not saying I believe or disbelieve, but without the ability to substantiate any of this article through actual published research it makes it hard for anyone to take it seriously.

            I’m not saying that to be derogatory, its just honest, and I would think that an article that cites reputable sources have them easily accessible.

          • They are easily accessible. Please look at the article again, then click the numbers in the brackets behind the paragraphs. These are clickable links to peer-reviewed papers.

          • I am not sure how anyone can miss the sources. Below each graph the source is listed and most are from various and highly credible medical journals. As with most properly referenced online citations, the numbers within parentheses are also linked to the source.

        • A quick look on google scholar will bring up articles like http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/535.full.pdf where the conclusion is that increased intake of saturated fat does not lead to cardiovascular desease, but there is no mention of it having beneficial effects

          • Funny thing… After some more digging, I found a study that actually says that replacing saturated fat (animal fat) with polyunsaturated fat (nuts, seeds, fish, algae, leafy greens) actually reduces CHD.

    • Looks interesting at first glance but the Swiss have an excellent health care system unlike the Aborigines. The Swiss also live at a high altitude, which is known to lower LDL. The Aborigines have serious problems with alcohol and tobacco. Both are major CHD factors.

      I must say, I’m surprised the average TC in France is as low as the graph indicates.

  2. Phil Lozano says:

    A great and healthy read, latest info.

  3. “The war on fats was a huge mistake” is past tense, yet many health “experts” continue to give advice along these lines. Health tips published in major newspapers continue to recommend things like low fat dairy products. Articles referencing flawed studies linking meat consumption to heart disease also remain quite common.

    • You’re so right, Dave. I don’t want to think it’s “the almighty dollar” that is causing this, and I know the doctors I’m associated with (medical transcriptionist, here) don’t read and try to keep abreast of the latest information. But they STILL push low-cholesterol and statin drugs (etc) because that’s what the American Heart Association or American Diabetes Association say to do. It bothers me to no end!

      • Wenchypoo says:

        That’s where the money’s at! Back in the last century, doctors made house calls and took things like chickens and jelly in payment–they mostly delivered babies and visited the bed-bound.

        Today, in order to become a doctor, you have to shell out vast sums of money (or go into vast sums of debt), go through many years of schooling, more years of residency, and pretty much accept the AMA mantra whole-cloth just to get some sort of job security out of it all, and for what? The chance to (hopefully) recompense yourself for the time and money outlay already made.

        Truth be told, ANYONE can be a doctor as long as you stay away from drugs and supplements, and stick to using food as your medicine. But the people who invented this expensive and wasteful slog of a training program don’t want you to know that!

        Today, we now have Obamacare riding (or rather, steering) the coattails of all this Big Medicine/Big Pharma/Big Insurance scam that’s all neatly rolled up into a big ball, complete with penalties for not playing along. It’s adding yet another layer of job security for all three industries in an era where it’s much MUCH cheaper to pay cash for what little ails you.

        Add the mechanized farming, GMOs, chemicals, and additives, and you have more job security (on the front end) in the form of patient creation. It’s Henry Ford’s assembly-line production gone COMPLETELY awry and is skewed toward profiting from learned behavior–they may as well start profiting from our breeding, just like puppy mills!!

        Paleo and Primal are our only hopes for escaping any of this never-ending nonsense.

    • I think “was” refers to the decision that was made a long time ago to wage the war in the first place. Not to misunderstand it and think that the war on fats is over.

    • Paul Allen says:

      Yeah, saw my doc recently re: possible apnea, mild hypertension and super obesity (BMI mid 40′s) and she recommended low fat, and in particular Slimming World (which says that rice, pasta and potatoes are free foods to eat in unlimited quantities)… such ridiculous advice.

  4. The future is low carb, high fat. Trust me, I’m not a Doctor or Dietitian!

    Kind regards, Eddie.

  5. There is a new article just published in British Medical Journal title “Saturated fat is not the major issue”. Medical journals are finally starting to realize saturated fat isn’t bad:

    “The mantra that saturated fat must be removed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease has dominated dietary advice and guidelines for almost four decades. Yet scientific evidence shows that this advice has, paradoxically, increased our cardiovascular risks…

    The aspect of dietary saturated fat that is believed to have the greatest influence on cardiovascular risk is elevated concentrations of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

    Yet the reduction in LDL cholesterol from reducing saturated fat intake seems to be specific to large, buoyant (type A) LDL particles, when in fact it is the small, dense (type B) particles (responsive to carbohydrate intake) that are implicated in cardiovascular disease.

    Indeed, 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.”

    http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6340

    • You’re grasping at straws. LDL type A and B are both atherogenic. The “large, fluffy” particle nonsense just gives people a false sense of security.

  6. Good article, Kris.

    Sadly, we have not learned from our mistakes, and we are beginning to see the similar wars waged against carbohydrate consumption. People are lumping all carbs under the same umbrella (just as they did with fats) and making unsubstantiated, emotion-invoking claims (carbs destroy your brain, make you fat, etc.), despite the fact that cultures around the world consume high amounts of carbohydrate with no issue (Kitavans are one example).

    It seems that we have such a dichotomous mindset by design. We want things to be black and white, but the reality is that we have adapted to survive on numerous different diet compositions, so the arguments about which is best are pretty much futile without considering individual context.

    I would also like to add that low fat diets are often extremely low in protein, which doesn’t give them a fair chance in the literature (in many cases, not all).

    Anyways, I don’t want to continue rambling, so once again, good post.

    PS: for the love of all things Holy, can we stop drinking 1500 calories of butter? We get it, saturated fat isn’t evil. Now eat some bacon and eggs for breakfast, not a 2000 calorie saturated fat bomb. ;)

    Jake

    • Hey Jake,

      The point you make about black and white thinking is a stunningly valid one, in my opinion. We want sureness and certainty. We want recommendations to be concrete and reliable. Yet diet, and life, just doesn’t tend to work like that, it’s dynamic, changing and reactive. Just like we have to be with our diets. You can’t sell that very easily though…

      I also like your point about low fat diets also frequently being low in protein. Hardly talked about at all.

      Keep it up,
      George

      PS. What sat-fat-drink bombs are you talking about?

      • Hey George,

        First off, I checked out your website, and I just wanted to congratulate you on your excellent fat loss progress. Keep up the great work.

        And you’re absolutely right. We want to know exactly what to do, not “experiment and find what works best in your individual situation.” Certainly not a book-selling concept, and unfortunately, it’s the concept we need to embrace more than any other.

        The saturated fat bombs I was talking about is Bulletproof Coffee. In my opinion, it’s not a healthful breakfast replacement. Sure, saturated fat is not evil, but that doesn’t mean we should guzzle 1000 calories worth of it in place of other highly nutritious breakfast options such as eggs, fruit, meat, and vegetables. Just my opinion of course.

        Jake

    • Michael Wassil says:

      I look at it this way. For maybe several hundred thousand years (or more) of human evolution, certainly at least two hundred thousand years for our specific species homo sapiens sapiens, humans ate carbs in the form of roots, berries and tree fruits (where/when available), honey (where/when available) and partially digested stomach contents of animals. Locally, there may have been other carb sources such as mushrooms or nuts. So, yes, humans can digest a lot of stuff and we have evolved to be omnivorous and opportunistic to a certain extent. Most of these original carbs, however, were pretty low quality, containing a lot of non-digestible fiber and/or cellulose and didn’t convert to glucose very efficiently.

      It was not until the advent of the Neolithic and the subsequent development of agriculture, something like less than 5-6 thousand years ago, that our species began to eat highly concentrated carbs containing a lot less fiber, cellulose and other non-digestible components. Combined with pastoralism and animal domestication that provided animal products for consumption, this worked out fairly well as it increased the available food supply and made it possible for humans to increase in numbers far beyond what could be supported by hunting, fishing and gathering.

      But it came at a cost. The new, concentrated carbs, especially grains, especially wheat and corn, caused multiple health issues, which were not realized and which we are only now beginning to understand.

      Recognizing that eating certain foods or even certain classes of foods cause health issues is not to demonize them, but to accept reality about them. For example, eating even a small amount of aminita mushrooms will make you very sick and if you eat too much will kill you. That’s reality, eat them if you want and the consequences will follow.

      It’s the same with carbs. We are learning that all sorts of health issues develop from eating different carbs either by themselves or in combination with other carbs or fats. We are learning that consuming high concentrations of omega6 from vegetable oils causes issues. We are learning that consuming high concentrations of sugars from many different sources causes issues, especially when combined with fats.

      So you have a choice. Are some carbs worse than others? Yes. Are you a unique individual who might or might not have a problem with certain carbs and not others. Yes. Is overall consumption of carbs going away any time soon? Not likely.

      For me the bottom line is: carbs are not necessary so the less I eat the better for me. Your mileage may vary.

      Cheers

      • Michael,

        I have a huge issue with the comparison between carbohydrate intake to the consumption of amanita muscaria. C’mon, that’s just silly. Like I said in my original comment, there are cultures around the world that consume high amounts of carbohydrate with no issue (the Kitavans consume ~70% of their calories from carbohydrate).

        Now, if you don’t want to eat carbohydrates and you feel better restricting them, that’s great. I just ask that we don’t start making silly comparisons and attributing the obesity epidemic to carbohydrates (not saying anyone here has done that, but it seems to be a common sentiment nowadays) while ignoring the ridiculous increase of vegetable oils, fast foods (which are high in fat as well as carbohydrate), and massive amounts of processed foods (which are highly rewarding, and again, high in both carbohydrates and fat).

        We just have to look at the big picture here. No, carbohydrates are not “essential” by definition, but since when does something have to be essential for us to consume it? Just some food for thought.

        Jake

        • Jake,

          You keep talking about the Kitavans eating “carbs”, but not saying what they eat. It isn’t as though they are noshing on bread and oats for 70% of their diet. Most of their carbs come from “tubers (yam, sweet potato, taro and cassava), fruit, vegetables and coconuts. [...] Grains, refined sugar, vegetable oils and other processed foods are virtually nonexistent on Kitava.” (source: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/08/kitavans-wisdom-from-pacific-islands.html)

          It’s not the amount of carbs in the case of the Kitavans, maybe so much as their source eh? Carbs from veggies and fruit vs. carbs from grain and refined sugar. And I am not sure what diet out there is demonizing vegetables and lumping them in with “all carbs” anyway, most of the lower carb diets I have seen say to stay away from grains, starches and sugars and advocate eating more leafy green vegetables.

          I think it is not a war against “carbs”, so much as against grains, starches and sugar.

          ~Jess

  7. Augustus Caesar says:

    Hi Kris,

    I am a big fan and practitioner of low-carb (keto to be more specific) diet so I like what you are doing on this website.

    However as a mathematical statistician all sorts of alarms were ringing in my head as I was reading this article. So let me be factual and constructive:

    1) You miss the main point of the chart – the countries with highest heart disease are all those of the “eastern block” (ex-soviet-union), so the correlation (0,58 correlation isn’t even strong) totally doesn’t equal causation in any way, I would search for the real reason in combination of low income and worse healthcare. The lowest heart disease countries are all rich western countries.

    3) You have picked the one study that favours the low-carb diet and not the others that are not so pro-low-carb.

    4) It is clear from the graph above. Really? Nothing is clear as there is no variable or metric showing the rate “these diseases” on the graph.

    5) By the same logic you could say “All the data shows that people actually increased their consumption of white meat as these diseases went up.” … So what? Correlation Causation.

    6) In the graph above, based on the Framingham Heart Study, you can see how heart disease risk goes up as people eat less butter and more margarine instead. — Terrible interpretation of data. It shows correlation between margarine and disease – yes (again, still no causation), says nothing about replacing.

    • Thanks for the comment, you are right. But I’m definitely not basing my conclusions on these graphs alone – I’ve covered all of these things in great detail in other articles that are linked below the graphs, all of them citing many research studies (including randomized controlled trials).

      These weight loss results are actually fairly typical for the first 6 months of low-carb diets, but you are right that I picked the best looking graph to demonstrate it. More studies on this here: http://authoritynutrition.com/23-studies-on-low-carb-and-low-fat-diets/

      • Chris Joseph says:

        I have to agree with the Caesar here, although I do value your website as being a good source of information in general.

        While I do believe that the the science backs up your arguments Kris, as a visible health authority in the low carb arena, I think a lot more care is needed when quoting epidemiological studies as evidence of anything, and big red warning signs should be held aloft beside them to state that they don’t prove cause and effect, and may well be confounded by other variables. As Caesar mentioned, properly adjusted for health care quality\accessibility, income, and other factors like smoking\drinking rates, the negative correlation isn’t nearly as strong.

        I’m not saying we shouldn’t use them, but we have to place emphasis on good science, otherwise we’re no better than Ancel Keys was, and look how that turned out!

        Our primary goals should first be to educate people on how to properly weight scientific evidence and think for themselves, above and beyond trying to prove a point using pretty graphs.

    • Pretty much what I was thinking. I’ll stick with my heavy on pasta, olive oil, cheese, and vegetables diet, thank you. But then, I’ve been watching food fads come and go, as well as advice about the health benefits and detriments of various types of foods from the scientific community, since the 1950s, and it’s quite clear to me that human beings are complex organisms, and the best guide to what’s good for you is what makes you feels energetic and keeps you at a reasonable weight.

    • Wenchypoo says:

      “the countries with highest heart disease are all those of the ‘eastern block’ (ex-soviet-union)”

      Isn’t that where the alcoholic problems are the worst? Since we know sugar causes heart disease, and alcohol is basically liquid sugar… I’m just askin’.

      • Maureen McGovern says:

        Low fat/high carb diet (and it’s cause of heart and brain dis-eases) and alcoholism go hand in hand. Eating a high saturated fat /low or no carb diet takes one off the carb addiction rollercoaster. Alcoholics aren’t victims of a lifelong disease, just faulty misguided junk science corporate greed PC brainwashing. Good fats release us from this. Look up Cynthia Perkins website for the science behind this.

        • “Low fat/high carb diet (and its cause of heart and brain dis-eases) and alcoholism go hand in hand.”

          That explains why Asian populations are dropping like flies. Oh, that’s right, they aren’t!

  8. I have really liked the articles on this site so I’ve been trying a low carb diet. However, it gave me terrible heart burn. Has anyone experienced something similar? What could be the reason?

    So, needless to say I have amended the diet with more carbs, especially from fruit and a bit less fat. The symptoms have now resolved.

    • I absolutely love my low-carb diet but have had terrible heartburn as well. Antacids seem to help, and cut out the coffee. I also try not to eat too much fat if it’s not with vegetables. Fruit helps as well.

    • Chris Joseph says:

      Eating lots of vegetables with your meals will help. Also try not to drink lots with a meal – it will dilute your stomach acid. Made a big difference for me.

  9. Hi,
    Thanks for this post and your website. You have made my life easier convincing my husband who is an academic doctor. His opinion has far reaching consequences. I am a nurse who is finishing a program with the national institute of whole health.

    It teaches evidenced based health promotion based on 5 elements of whole health: nutrition, physical, emotional, spiritual and environment. We heard a lot of “it depends” as there is no one size fits all but giving people the information to make their own decisions within their 5 elements is key.

    I know for me and my health issues, I tried the low carb approach and it made my thyroid issues worse and probably my gut too. I like the perfect health diet approach for most things. Thank you for your work!

  10. Kris, a few days ago you posted Robert Lustig’s latest video, “Fat Chance: Fructose 2.0.” At 1:14:15 he says, “The AHA gets it. I am a proud member of the AHA. The fat hypothesis has been debunked. 2010 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition..”. and then a word or possibly 3 words that are unintelligible but may end in “…it all.”

    Were you, or anyone who watched the video, able to decipher what he said? I’d like to know if the AHA has in fact debunked the diet heart hypothesis. If they have, that’s news to me and I think very newsworthy indeed. I wonder why I haven’t heard it, or if I heard him correctly.

  11. Thank you for your article. Would you be willing to follow this up with a correlation to weight gain and use of high fructose corn syrup? I am not a nutritionist, however we fatten up our livestock by feeding them feed corn, and essentially put the same substance in out bodies at almost every meal. I for one consider this to be one of the many reasons our country is getting heavier.

    • No, it’s because we eat too much for our modern lifestyles. Btw, the Hadza (a hunter/gatherer group in Africa) consume large amounts of raw honey (plus the bee larvae) from honey combs. They aren’t fat and that represents a lot of fructose, wouldn’t you say?

  12. Hi,

    thank you for this article. I get very excited when I read information about low carb being good for you. I have been a low carb eater for past 9 years, originally learning the benefits from Dr Peskin and discovering Best of Health at the time. It is the most frustrating feeling when you try to explain to anyone that low fat is no good… even the logic of it when someone takes a product, plays around with it, takes the best out of it and tells you it’s good for you… logically, people still don’t seem to grasp it as they have been fed with nutritional myths for decades.

    I would love to study nutrition and work with people to help them get healthier and lose weight but no idea where to start to avoid the ‘traditional views’.

  13. Dan Thomas says:

    All that will happen is carbs will now become the enemy. The same blinkered view that gave us the lipid hypothesis will now be applied to all carbs.

    Low carb/high fat diet diets where calorie intake is identical to higher carbs/moderate fat diets produce no greater fat loss, and in some studies the higher carb diets spare more muscle mass as there is no oxidization of stored aminos to create glycogen for fuel during glycogen dependent exercise (HIIT for example).

    The causes of obesity and diabetes are far more complex, confounding factors like work related stress, environmental pollutants, less physically demanding jobs, lack of exercise and the fact that we can eat as and when we want are as much to blame as the food we choose to eat.

  14. Cynthia Rohde says:

    It still always comes back to moderation and variety in your eating habits.

  15. Zawodowiec says:

    The CHD, obesity, insulin resistance, etc. are associated with MANY risk factors, the dietary fat intake being only one of them. This is why studying relationship between saturated fat intake and the CHD without taking other risk factors into account will always be affected by confounding. I’m pretty sure that the higher prevalence of CHD in countries like UK, France or Germany than in Kazakhstan, Georgia or Azerbaijan is not only because of the lesser saturated fat dietary intake.

    The other graphs, which show an in-time relationship between fat intake and the CHD incidence/prevalence are not a prospective/retrospective studies but a cross-sectional analysis – so that we don’t know what’s the cause and what’s the result.

    And the studies linked are not about the case – two of them are about egg consumption, one of them gives totally different conclusions than this article and the fourth one is about to say, that there is no relationship, but more evidence is needed.

    In other words, this article is nothing but naive sensation and should not be treated as a source of scientific information.

    • Of course there are many confounders that can explain the correlations. Again, I’ve written about ALL of these points before, looked at a lot more studies (including randomized controlled trials) – there are links to these posts within the article.

      If I were to have to go through ALL of that stuff again in order to satisfy all the die-hard skeptics, then this article would have been 20 times as long and very boring.

      Btw… Are you talking about references 1-4?

      “Studies conducted in the past few decades conclusively show that neither saturated fat nor dietary cholesterol cause harm in humans (1, 2, 3, 4).”

      References 1-2 have to do with saturated fat, 3-4 have to do with eggs, which are the biggest source of dietary cholesterol, supporting the point “nor dietary cholesterol.”

      Of course scientists say that more evidence is needed. That’s what they always say.

      If you look at the words “conclusively show” then you see that this points to this article here, which has covered all of this in great detail: http://authoritynutrition.com/it-aint-the-fat-people/

  16. Forget low fat, high carb, etc. Just follow the Medierranean diet concept and you cannot go wrong and remember that a balanced diet is one where you eat most things in moderation. IMO the main problem for all of us is the total intake of food combined with a sedentary life.

    The main problem with the article is the use of selected graphs to prove a point. One could simlply argue that the advent of home pc’s also encouraged an even greater sedentary life with ensuing obesity. Forget the graphs and just eat healthily with prime food instead of the industrialized processed version. Francis – @symbolrate.

  17. David Tucker says:

    Most of us involved in the nutritional world of holistic practices have known this for years. Everything has been LOW FAT in the UK for some years… except the population… hello!

  18. This is simple, remove processed foods and sugar 100%. Eat healthy fats, including butter and red meat and kill off the sugar. Live an active life and keep moving everyday.

  19. Gotta watch out for statistics….they can be made to prove just about anything. The conclusions could well be true, but in graph 1, deaths due to heart attacks in Belarus and Kazakhstan could also be due to poor medical care compared to the UK and France.

    The obesity epidemic also started when cable TV and computers became widely available – maybe they are the cause of obesity due to reduced exercise?

  20. That would be pretty ironic if the heartburn (after switching to a low-carb, higher-fat diet) mentioned in a few comments above was actually angina. Lol just saying…

    • When I was on a LCHF diet years ago I did develop chest pains. After a high fat meal I felt tingling sensation in the hands, neck as well. My TC shot up to 6.12mmol/L (236mg/dl). I was running 10K 4 times per week prior to the diet but had to cut out running due to lack of energy. Wisely I kicked this dangerous diet to the curb and went on a lower-fat vegetarian diet which lowered my TC to 4.80 mmol/L (185mg/dl).

      Just a warning to those out there that believe a LCHF diet is harmless and carries no risks. I’m proof of that! Oh and there’s a lot more to health than weight loss. Outward appearances can be misleading. Even if you are slim (like I am) you can still have heart disease developing inside you.

  21. Saturated fats may not be bad for heart health, but studies have shown that a high intake of saturated fats DOES greatly increase risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. So while there is no link to heart disease, people shouldn’t take this information to mean they can eat all the saturated fats they want.

    • David Tucker says:

      Just the opposite… low saturated fat intake is likely to increase your chances of dementia… sugars are the most likely problem in increasing the odds. There is no substantiated evidence for saturated fats being a problem in this respect.

  22. I think you need to speak with Dr. Esselstyn and his son. Plant strong backed by science!

    • Esselstyn and Ornish are the ONLY people that have reversed heart disease in people with advanced CHD. The low-carbers hate these guys. An inconvenient truth?

      • Esselstyn’s study did NOT use a control group and they also had people take large doses of statins.

        Ornish’s study also used exercise, meditation, smoking cessation and a ton of other variables. There is no proof that it was his diet that caused the effects.

        The Ornish diet has been compared against Atkins in a large randomized controlled trial, which happened to be conducted by a vegetarian:

        http://authoritynutrition.com/low-carb-vs-vegan-vegetarian/

        Guess what… Atkins did the best out of all 4 diets tested (including for important cardiac risk factors), Ornish did the worst. This is the best study there is comparing low-carb vs low-fat vegetarian, period.

        Btw… who says they are the only people that have reversed heart disease? That’s nonsense. There are also plenty of cardiologists that use low-carb diets on their patients with great success, although they don’t go and make documentaries about it.

        • The fact of the matter is they both have documented evidence that their diets have reversed atherosclerosis. Btw, Esselstyn prescribed statins to HALT the progression of their heart disease. Statins do not reverse it. The VLF diet did that over 3-4 years.

          He has the patients’ angiograms and cardiac PET scans to prove it. I know you’re trying to infer that the statins were responsible for the reversal. If you knew how statins worked you wouldn’t have stated that. Statins lower cholesterol, they do not reverse atherosclerosis. Esselstyn’s patients were severe cases, many (if not all) had at least one surgical procedure done and some were basically told by their GPs that there was nothing more they could do for them.

          So, whether you care to admit it or not the proof of his work is there for anyone to see. These people he treated were doing fine 20 years after the dietary treatment. They still eat this way. It is a lifestyle change. Unlike Ornish, Esselstyn did not tell his patients to exercise, meditate, etc. He wanted to see what a dietary intervention could accomplish.

          As far as Atkins is concerned, I followed an Atkins type diet years ago. I kept my carbs below 30g per day. Ate eggs, bacon, meats, chicken, fish and low-starch vegetables. All it did was raise my cholesterol levels to the highest they had ever been and bring on what I’ve been told were angina pain in my chest. My bad. I’ll never try that again!

          I switched to a lower fat (vegetarian) diet, less strict than Ornish. My cholesterol dropped to 4.80 mmol/L from 6.12 mmol/L and the angina stopped and has never returned. I keep copies of my blood tests and have done so going back to 1997. There is a distinct pattern that is revealed from these tests.

          If I fall off my healthy diet and increase my dietary fats the cholesterol increases accordingly. Likewise, when I return to my normal diet, the levels drop back to healthy levels. While I don’t deny that there is a segment of our population that can tolerate a high fat diet, there is an even larger segment that cannot.

          I’m not even hypercholesterolemic. But it is obvious that I do respond in a negative way to a high fat diet. I’m not sure how much higher my cholesterol would have gone and I wasn’t about to find out, nor was my doctor. So, if you have actual evidence of doctors that have successfully used low-carb diets to REVERSE (not just improve) their patients atherosclerosis, I would be genuinely interested in seeing it.

  23. There’s a whole lot of correlation = causation in this post, which makes it rather difficult to take seriously. One of the main issues with epidemiology is properly controlling the analysis, and when you show graphs of obesity vs time, heart disease vs time, etc, without controlling for any of the other factors that contribute to obesity or heart disease- of which there are dozens- your conclusions are essentially worthless.

    Which isn’t to say that you don’t make some valid points, but that sort of argument isn’t the way to prove them.

  24. Maureen McGovern says:

    Kris, you are my new ‘main man’, and I’m proud and excited to share your website with all my clients. Super article! Thank you.

  25. Correlation doesn’t mean causation. I understand that fats aren’t Inherently bad, but these need asterisks. You shouldn’t eat too much fat. Everything is about balance.

    Also, the lifestyles of westerners have changed around the time the guidelines were implemented, so I would say our lifestyle choice, and industrial food, have more to do with disease than the fact that we reduced fat intake, which despite the guidelines, we have only just implemented.

    The correct balance is needed. These articles need to be careful because people will think this means they can have an unhealthy lifestyle because they didn’t understand balance.

  26. Now I can justify to my wife cooking with duck and beef lard. MMMM duck fat.

  27. Francis Borg says:

    Cody above mentioned the right word i.e. balance. Simply put, forget about the science and ‘expert’ and controversial articles like this one and follow the natural way that is the Mediterranean diet now endorsed by WHO as the gold standard.

    Here is a good guide to follow; even if you follow the principles, the detail will fall in place naturally.

    http://www.patient.co.uk/health/how-to-follow-the-mediterranean-diet

    • David Tucker says:

      Oh dear… more of the same bad advice from the same folks who for the last 40 years have been part of the problem, with such now mostly discredited nonsense as, “a third of your plate should be starchy carbohydrates” …

      • The mediterranean diet has been around since time immemorial. Unfortunately it was only 3 years ago that it was finally recognised by the world health authorities as the right diet for all. If you read the guide, maybe you will understand the concepts of it. In the end, even eating the right stuff but in grotesque quantities while leading a sedentary life will still end up bad.

        So READ the guide and understand the simple principles that guided many people over the years to good health around the Mediterranean shores.

        Twitter: @symbolrate

        • David Tucker says:

          I have read it… it still contains erroneous advice and will continue to contribute to the nutritional problems of carb ingestion and bad lipid choices… as the mainstream advice has for the last 40 years at least. This is why the graphs and information within this article are posted here, I expect, to try and provide some better advice and information.

          • Francis Borg says:

            David,
            It took many years of research evaluation and discussions among the many health authorities around the world to come to the conclusion three years ago that the concepts and principles of the Mediterranean diet is the one to recommend to ALL humanity.

            I for one am not going to go by spurious research and interpretation of selected graphs like those above that seem to contradict not only what has already been researched by MANY but the real statistics of longevity and minimal disease incidence in the Mediterranean region. Of course if you look closely now at recent events, you will find that obesity in these regions is now becoming a problem in some areas where the fast food outlets and a sedentery lifestyle are also leaving their mark in these regions. It is obvious that not all regions of the world can all of a sudden change their lifelong habits because WHO has decreed this is the way to go. However it is a concept recommended to all humanity because of the extensive research evaluation carried out over many years.

            You keep mentioning the 40 years but the Mediterranean diet has been around for thousands of years and evolved into what we now KNOW is the way to go for a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle.

            If as you said you have read the guidelines I sent, you will surely have understood that this form of diet is not a rigid set of rules as those you find in the diet books by one or other. These are principles which you need to absorb and live; providing the total intake is not excessive, then a healthy lifestyle is the inevitable result and obesity will not occur. If it occurs you are NOT following the guiding principles. These guidelines provide a holistic approach to a healthy way of living, minimizing (not cancelling) the risk to diseases as you go through life. @symbolrate (on twitter).

  28. David MacAffer says:

    There are no other factors, socio-economic or otherwise, than could contribute to heart disease and obesity, other than median intake of saturated fat. None whatsoever. Nope.

  29. David Tucker says:

    Francis, please read my comments again carefully and you will see that I am NOT referring to the Mediterranean diet in the context of the forty years or so that the mainstream… and I am thinking primarily of The Food Standards Agency… advice has been a major part of the nutritional/obesity problem, as a look at the real world will confirm, since it is either incorrect, or not followed!

    The basic principles of a good diet are not rocket science… but our traditional live, fresh foods that people consumed for thousands of years before man started processing junk. Within this, I include vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, meat, eggs and possibly raw dairy. I would also advocate at least 50% of one’s diet should be raw.

    The ingestion of quality saturated fats and oils is essential for optimum health and indeed, our primary source of energy would have come from them… until the insidious sugars and processed carbs appeared via man-made products.

    I specifically would not recommend pasta, other grain based products, or cooking with olive oil… from the Mediterranean diet advice.

  30. Olaf Koenders says:

    What I’ve found over the decades was a constant chastisement of just about every food. First potatoes were demonized, then they were the fad again and red meat was demonized. Now red meat is apparently OK, unless you’re an idiot vegan PETA fan (who incidentally murder and eat fish by the ton).

    Grabbermint studies will continue to tell us what’s bad (m’kay) or good for us – and mostly get it wrong. Grabbermint funded science is an open money pit for scientists to continue making money for their universities regardless the truth or actual “scientific” discovery, which is usually in favour of the grabbermint anyway.

    For decades we’ve been pushed into using margarine because it’s “healthier” than natural butter. However, it’s full of trans-fats, which are suddenly bad for us and the FDA is considering banning all hydrolyzed oils. So say goodbye to all your donuts, biscuits, cakes etc.

    Lifestyles are far more sedentary now than decades ago. We’re also eating more as well. Stands to reason that’s just one reason for the obesity epidemic.

    Also, the low fat fad has caused food to taste worse, so companies reacted by adding more sugar.

    The leading cause of death is birth. It’s time the nannies just left us alone to enjoy ourselves.

If you made it all the way down here, you probably liked the article. Please share it:

Speak Your Mind

*