Here’s a journal article the anti-fat hysterics at the USDA, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, etc. all should read. (Of course if they did, they’d dismiss it.) The article, published in Advances in Nutrition, is titled Dietary Fats and Health: Dietary Recommendations in the Context of Scientific Evidence. Let’s look at some quotes:
Although early studies showed that saturated fat diets with very low levels of PUFAs increase serum cholesterol, whereas other studies showed high serum cholesterol increased the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), the evidence of dietary saturated fats increasing CAD or causing premature death was weak.
The evidence was weak because the anti-fat hysterics relied on teleoanalysis: saturated fat raises cholesterol (in some people) and cholesterol is associated with heart disease, therefore saturated fat must cause heart disease. Bad logic leads to bad theories.
Numerous reports and reviews in recent years have begun to call the perceived pernicious effects of dietary saturated fatty acids (SFAs) into question.
And yet few of those reports have changed the thinking of your average health reporter … not to mention the goofballs who write those annoying Eat This, Not That books and articles.
The purpose of this review is to summarize the scientific understanding as it relates to dietary fats in health and disease, particularly with regard to the innocuous nature of SFAs and the physiological effects that have implicated PUFAs in numerous disorders and diseases. The role of dietary fats in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and many other diseases is complex, yet there is a powerful inertia that has allowed the saturated fat doctrine to endure.
I don’t think powerful inertia is the correct phrase here. More like powerful vested interests.
Human food preferences tend to favor foods with both fats and sugars, which complicates any attempts to correlate saturated fats with disease.
Well, that should complicate any attempts at correlation, but the geniuses at the American Heart Association and other promoters of arterycloggingsaturatefat! hysteria found a simple solution: if people who eat saturated fats mixed with sugars get heart disease, blame the fat. (After all, you can’t blame sugar and still put your seal of approval on boxes of Cocoa Puffs.)
Because dietary saturated fats do not promote inflammation, it may be wiser to minimize omega-6 PUFAs and consume more SFAs to reduce various types of inflammation.
But … but … but the American Heart Association says corn oil is good for you.
Investigators often seem to have a particular bias against saturated fats.
That’s a polite way of saying “Scientists are freakin’ liars.”
Campaigns were waged against tropical oils (palm and coconut oils) in the early 1980s because of their high levels of SFAs, even though palm oil contains about as much MUFAs acids as SFAs and has an ample amount of PUFAs to keep serum cholesterol low …. Claims that tropical oils with a high SFA content increase the risk of CAD lack clear scientific evidence to that effect. Indeed, countries with high intake of tropical oils have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.
Quick, somebody call The Guy From CSPI. He was behind those campaigns waged against tropical oils, which caused coconut oil to be replaced with trans fats – which he declared safe at the time. Given the success (ahem, ahem) of his campaigns, I’d like him to comment on that last paragraph.
Many of the shorter chain fatty acids found in milk fat and coconut oil have beneficial health effects. The shorter chain SFA in milk (C4–C12) are not only metabolized rapidly for energy in infants, but have been found to have important antiviral, antimicrobial, antitumor, and immune response functions. Lauric acid, which is present in milk and the most abundant fatty acid in coconut oil, is effective in preventing tooth decay and plaque buildup. Diets rich in coconut oils have also been shown to lower other risk factors for CAD, such as tissue plasminogen activator antigen and Lp(a).
Aren’t you glad the USDA has decided kids in school can’t drink whole milk, but sugar-laden skim milk is fine and dandy?
It should not be surprising that substitution of carbohydrates (starches) for saturated fats in the diet has relatively little effect on serum lipids. Excess carbohydrates are converted to fats for efficient energy storage, and the human body synthesizes primarily SFAs from excess carbohydrates, although MUFAs are also formed. Consequently, from a physiological viewpoint, there is no reason to believe that replacing fat in the diet with carbohydrate at a constant caloric intake will improve the serum lipid profile significantly. Indeed, a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet causes an increase in serum triglycerides and small, dense LDL particles, which are more strongly associated with CAD than serum total cholesterol or LDL-C.
So skip the bacon and eggs and eat your Cheerios. The American Heart Association says those processed grains are good for your heart.
The meager effect that saturated fats have on serum cholesterol levels when modest but adequate amounts of polyunsaturated oils are included in the diet, and the lack of any clear evidence that saturated fats are promoting any of the conditions that can be attributed to PUFA makes one wonder how saturated fats got such a bad reputation in the health literature. The influence of dietary fats on serum cholesterol has been overstated, and a physiological mechanism for saturated fats causing heart disease is still missing.
No, no, no … I’ve heard nutritionists, doctors and dietitians on TV insisting that thousands of studies prove that saturated fat causes heart disease. Thousands!
It is time to reevaluate the dietary recommendations that focus on lowering serum cholesterol and to use a more holistic approach to dietary policy.
Well, the USDA dietary experts reevaluate their dietary recommendations every five years. Then, acting like the division of Monsanto the USDA has become, they recommend even less natural saturated fat and more mutant grains. But give them another 50 years or so, and they may actually pay attention to the science.
And another 50 years after that, the American Heart Association may do the same.