Why The American Heart Association Can’t Admit They’re Wrong

If you’re a sympathetic sort, you could almost feel sorry for people who work for the American Heart Association, the British Heart Foundation, the Australian Heart Foundation, etc.   They’ve been promoting anti-fat hysteria for more than 40 years now, people have dutifully cut back on their saturated fat intake and consumed more “heart-healthy” grains, and yet our societies are witnessing record rates of obesity and diabetes. Even if these organization believe their advice is correct, I don’t see how they could feel successful in their missions.

But of course, their advice isn’t correct.

I’m not a big fan of observational studies, but since the American Heart Association likes to cite them as evidence, here’s a conclusion several observational studies have reached:  when people replace saturated fats with refined carbohydrates, their rate of heart disease goes up, not down.  Clinical studies show that refined carbohydrates raise triglycerides, and high triglycerides at at least associated with heart disease, if not an actual cause.  And yet for decades now, the AHA has been putting its stamp of approval on products like the ones shown below.


Let’s look at the (ahem) nutrition in some of these heart-protecting foods.  In a serving size that provides just 118 calories (boy, that’ll get you through the morning, won’t it?), Honey Nut Cheerios contain 23 grams of refined carbohydrates.  Almost 10 of those grams are pure sugar.   A cup of West Soy vanilla soy milk contains 21 grams of carbohydrates, including 10 grams of sugar.  The instant oatmeal contains 31 carbohydrates including 12 grams of sugar, and the V-8 fusion juice may as well be a Coca-Cola:  25 grams of sugar in one cup.

So well-meaning people filling their grocery carts with products bearing the American Heart Association’s seal of approval could easily end up on a diet high in refined starches and sugars and think they’re doing their hearts a favor.  I’m sure many have.

Meanwhile, more and more studies are suggesting that the whole arterycloggingsaturatedfat! theory was wrong.  I just posted on one of those last week.

So image you’re a dedicated member of the American Heart Association.  Evidence is piling up that the advice your organization has been handing out since the 1960s not only didn’t help, it probably caused actual harm.  What can you do?

Well, you could call a press conference or take out ads in national newspapers and announce that you’ve been wrong all along, but that would likely spell the end of your organization.  It would also mean looking yourself in the mirror and saying, “Oh my god … have I been promoting foods that turned people into fat diabetics?  Have kids been diagnosed with ADHD and sent to special-ed classes because I told their parents Honey Nut Cheerios are a heart-healthy food?  Have I told people to eat foods that sent their triglycerides through the roof and caused their bodies to produce small LDL particles? Has my advice killed people?”

Nope.  You won’t do that.  You probably can’t do that.

I’ve mentioned the excellent book Mistake Were Made (but not by me) several times.  It covers a range of ideas, but here are three of the most important points:

  • Once we’ve taken a public position, it’s very difficult to admit we were wrong.
  • Psychologically, most of us need to believe we’re both good people and good decision-makers.
  • We are quite capable of fooling ourselves into believing things that simply aren’t true, even if that means ignoring clear evidence.

The book provides interesting (and unfortunately common) examples of those points in action.  What happens when, say, a woman marries a guy who turns out to be an abusive creep?  She runs out and gets a divorce, right?

Nope.  Odds are she’ll spend years with the guy before dumping him, if she dumps him at all.  Think about the three points above.  When you get married, you’ve made a dramatic public statement:  this is the one. It would be embarrassing to admit to your family and friends a year later that your marriage was a huge mistake – telling them, in effect, that in making perhaps the most important decision of your life, you chose badly.  (I broke off an engagement in my early 30s, so I know all about that one.)

So the abused wife can, against all evidence, convince herself that her husband is actually a decent guy.   Sure, he’s abusive, but it’s not really his fault.  He’s just under a lot of stress, you see.  It’s because other people treat him badly.  It may even be her fault for aggravating him.  And he’s nice to her once or twice per month, and that’s the real him, you see.  He just needs more time and few breaks, and he’ll be nice all the time.

Another example the book gives is police and prosecutors who arrest an innocent man and send him to prison, only to see him exonerated years later by DNA evidence.  You’d expect the prosecutors to say to themselves, “Wow, that’s horrible.  We put an innocent guy away.”  You’d also be wrong.  Despite the large number of people who have been exonerated by new evidence, it’s exceedingly rare for a prosecutor to admit he or she put the wrong man in prison.  As the authors recount, most prosecutors are still convinced – despite the evidence – that the guy they put away was guilty.

Once again, we’re talking about people who took a very public position (ladies and gentlemen, this is guy who committed the crime) and who need to think of themselves as good people (I’m the good guy because I put away bad guys.)  To protect themselves psychologically, they can explain away the evidence that they were wrong.  The alternative is to look in the mirror and admit they ruined an innocent person’s life, not to mention his family’s life.

As the authors note, people who insist they were right all along even when the evidence says they’re wrong aren’t usually lying.  To lie, you have to know what you’re saying isn’t true.  These people truly believe they’re right.   That pesky new DNA evidence was probably planted, you see.  The lab made a mistake.  The guy committed the murder, but the DNA that doesn’t match his was left behind by an accomplice we didn’t know about.  The guy we put in prison is guilty, damnit.  Never mind the fact that the DNA left behind on the victim doesn’t match.  You have to look at the totality of the evidence.

The American Heart Association and its sister organizations have been spreading arterycloggingsaturatedfat! hysteria for decades – in effect, prosecuting the innocent.  They’ve recommended processed vegetables oils instead of animal fats.  They’ve taken very public positions warning people away from high-fat foods and promoting breads, cereals, pastas, juices, and other foods low in fat but high in carbohydrates.  And of course, they think of themselves as the good guys.

So no, they’re not going to admit they were wrong.  They’re not going admit their advice may have killed people.  They’re incapable of believing that.  They’re going to show up in media articles and TV shows and blogs and insist they were right all along.  Never mind that latest study, they’ll insist.  You have to look at the totality of the evidence.

Actually, no, we don’t have to look at the totality of the evidence.  We just need to examine some key evidence that falsifies their theories.  I’ll cover that in my next post.


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144 thoughts on “Why The American Heart Association Can’t Admit They’re Wrong

  1. Buzz

    One thing to add to this, Tom. Don’t forgot to follow the money.

    For a product to carry the AHA “Heart Check,” not only does it have to pass certain guidelines, but it has to PAY for the privilege. The AHA makes a lot of money off of this program

    http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HeartSmartShopping/Heart-Check-Mark-Nutritional-Guidelines_UCM_300914_Article.jsp

    Make sure you read the last paragraph.

    I’m not sure what the current fees are, but five years ago they were $7500 for testing and $4500/year to keep the “Heart Check” on a product.

    Here’s more from the AHA:

    http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HeartSmartShopping/Heart-Check-Mark-for-Food-Manufacturers_UCM_300866_Article.jsp

    Subway recently paid more than $600,000. Imagine the difficulty the AHA would have announcing their low-fat advice is wrong after collecting that kind of dough.

  2. Merlin

    I gleefully await the day when a class action lawsuit is filed against the AHA. And CSPI…

  3. JasonG

    A critical thinker must always be a skeptic, and that starts with critical, lifelong introspection.

    Nowadays, skeptics are labeled as “denialists.”

  4. Bret

    Mistakes Were Made was such an awesome book. It poignantly articulated so many things about human nature that most of us know deep down but can’t quite string together in our lives.

    After I read it, I started seeing examples of the head-in-the-sand syndrome nearly everywhere. It’s as if rule #1 of human psychology is to possess an extreme fear of anyone ever thinking you were wrong.

    What’s so ironic is that when somebody does step forward and admit to being wrong, people typically respect his courage and appreciate his honesty. And then things move on and everybody forgets all about it. But you’d never think so by looking at the way most powerful people behave.

    I’ve got to give the AHA some credit, though. Their example has taught me never to trust big bureaucracies for advice about…well, anything.

    Unfortunately, it’s much tougher for an organization to admit it’s been pushing bad advice for nearly 50 years.

  5. Jeff B

    I suspect one reason orgs (or people) never admit they’re wrong is liability. If the AHA were to admit they’re wrong (or a cop or prosecutor who puts away an innocent man), they’d be sued into nothingness. Not a bad thing in the case of the AHA, but I don’t think we’d want to have every police officer or prosecutor who acted in good faith on what they knew at the time sued. Of course the AHA is acting in bad faith at this point – there’s too much evidence against them. At least an innocent prisoner has a third party, i.e., a judge, to intervene. And maybe we need a lawsuit against the AHA as a third party to intervene. 🙂

    I believe prosecutors are immune from such lawsuits in most states for exactly that reason. Any of you legal eagles out there can correct me if I’m wrong.

  6. Jennifer Snow

    I know a large number of people who have no trouble admitting when they’re wrong, because they take the position that being a good person and living rightly doesn’t derive from knowing the right answer but from exercising a proper methodology to the best of your ability. They don’t expect to be omniscient or never make mistakes and have no ego invested in Being Right. Their ego is invested in Doing The Stuff that Enables You to Eventually Become Right.

    I strive to emulate this approach, not always with perfect success, but I’m getting better at it. I’m CERTAINLY a lot better at saying “my bad” when I’m wrong and this is pointed out to me.

    There’s no reason why the heart association HAS to cling to their old ideology, nor why being wrong HAS to destroy their organization. But many people do believe this sort of thing.

    I once took over software development at a two-person company. A few weeks into the job, one of the owners asked me if such-and-such was possible. I told her I didn’t know, but I’d find out.

    She thanked me for saying “I don’t know.” Turns out the previous programmer would never admit to not knowing everything there is to know, so if she asked for a feature and he didn’t know how to do it, he told her it couldn’t be done.

  7. Rob

    Given the mounting evidence, couldn’t someone sue the AHA for their bad advice causing heart attacks and death? A class action suit seems to fit best.

    That would be a very tough lawsuit to wage.

  8. Dan Sadler

    Tom, I’m a big fan of yours, and I bought the movie too. I came to the conclusion that saturated fat was good before I bought the movie, and Fathead confirmed what I thought was right.
    The reason I am replying is I am wondering if you have ever had a chance to learn about Vitamin D/sunlight deficiency. I just found out about it, and I was surprised that all of the lies the dermatoloist community does to keep people from knowing about it, just like the anti saturated fat people lie also. I really think the Vitamin D people make a pretty convincing case.
    I just wanted to tell you, just in case you don’t know. Love the blog!

    Sure, I’ve written about vitamin D a few times on the blog. Dermatologists tell people to avoid the sun, so they become vitamin D deficient.

  9. Buzz

    One thing to add to this, Tom. Don’t forgot to follow the money.

    For a product to carry the AHA “Heart Check,” not only does it have to pass certain guidelines, but it has to PAY for the privilege. The AHA makes a lot of money off of this program

    http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HeartSmartShopping/Heart-Check-Mark-Nutritional-Guidelines_UCM_300914_Article.jsp

    Make sure you read the last paragraph.

    I’m not sure what the current fees are, but five years ago they were $7500 for testing and $4500/year to keep the “Heart Check” on a product.

    Here’s more from the AHA:

    http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HeartSmartShopping/Heart-Check-Mark-for-Food-Manufacturers_UCM_300866_Article.jsp

    Subway recently paid more than $600,000. Imagine the difficulty the AHA would have announcing their low-fat advice is wrong after collecting that kind of dough.

  10. Tom Welsh

    “Subway recently paid more than $600,000. Imagine the difficulty the AHA would have announcing their low-fat advice is wrong after collecting that kind of dough”.

    I’m with you all the way, Buzz, up to that final statement. Ever met a financial adviser? A government minister? A business consultant? A lawyer? An ECONOMIST? All people who quite often give completely wrong advice, and blandly ignore the consequences. Even doctors are not unknown to make completely wrong diagnoses, and stick to them through thick and thin. (If the patient ever gets the right diagnosis from another doctor, and eventually makes a full recovery, the first doctor’s reaction is apt to be along the lines of, “She maliciously presented with misleading symptoms”).

    Sure, the phenomenon is rampant.

  11. Tom Welsh

    Stick it to them, Tom! Maybe one day, when NuSI and the other similar organizations that will soon be springing up have presented their conclusions, we can launch the mother of all class action suits… After all, the one redeeming feature of those people to whom *following the money* leads you is that they have lots and lots of money.

  12. JasonG

    A critical thinker must always be a skeptic, and that starts with critical, lifelong introspection.

    Nowadays, skeptics are labeled as “denialists.”

  13. Bret

    Mistakes Were Made was such an awesome book. It poignantly articulated so many things about human nature that most of us know deep down but can’t quite string together in our lives.

    After I read it, I started seeing examples of the head-in-the-sand syndrome nearly everywhere. It’s as if rule #1 of human psychology is to possess an extreme fear of anyone ever thinking you were wrong.

    What’s so ironic is that when somebody does step forward and admit to being wrong, people typically respect his courage and appreciate his honesty. And then things move on and everybody forgets all about it. But you’d never think so by looking at the way most powerful people behave.

    I’ve got to give the AHA some credit, though. Their example has taught me never to trust big bureaucracies for advice about…well, anything.

    Unfortunately, it’s much tougher for an organization to admit it’s been pushing bad advice for nearly 50 years.

  14. Jeff B

    I suspect one reason orgs (or people) never admit they’re wrong is liability. If the AHA were to admit they’re wrong (or a cop or prosecutor who puts away an innocent man), they’d be sued into nothingness. Not a bad thing in the case of the AHA, but I don’t think we’d want to have every police officer or prosecutor who acted in good faith on what they knew at the time sued. Of course the AHA is acting in bad faith at this point – there’s too much evidence against them. At least an innocent prisoner has a third party, i.e., a judge, to intervene. And maybe we need a lawsuit against the AHA as a third party to intervene. 🙂

    I believe prosecutors are immune from such lawsuits in most states for exactly that reason. Any of you legal eagles out there can correct me if I’m wrong.

  15. George @ the High Fat hep C Di

    You see it in various dietitians’ responses to the Sydney study –
    “there was nothing wrong with the advice to consume more linoleic acid, you just needed to also consume more monounsaturated fat, or drink less alcohol, or consume more omega 3 or antioxidants, or do something, anything, to protect yourself from it so it could be as good for you as we believed! And if really it isn’t good for you, why, that’s what we’ve been trying to tell you all along – eat less fat!
    For we are wise and you are not, so whatever happens to you cannot be our fault.”

    The alternative is to say, “Hmm … everything I learned in school and have been telling my clients for all these years is wrong.”

  16. George

    Did you ever see the Ox-Bow incident with Henry Fonda about a group of vigilantes looking for the killers of a rancher and find a couple of random people and without proof decide they must be the killers and then hang them, afterwards the “dead” rancher shows up ver much alive, the leader of the gang ends up killing himself rather than face justice. These men truly believed they were heroes on a mission of justice, they truly convinced themselves they were doing the right thing and that these men absolutley must be guilty. Reminded me of what you were talking about people convincing themselves their doing the right thing. The AHA the ADA and all the rest will never admit their wrong because Kelloggs, general mills, nestle and coca-cola would stop sponsoring them. Its not our fault you got fat and diabetic following our advice you probally snuck in a few slim jims didn’t you.

    I did see that film. Good example.

  17. Jennifer Snow

    I know a large number of people who have no trouble admitting when they’re wrong, because they take the position that being a good person and living rightly doesn’t derive from knowing the right answer but from exercising a proper methodology to the best of your ability. They don’t expect to be omniscient or never make mistakes and have no ego invested in Being Right. Their ego is invested in Doing The Stuff that Enables You to Eventually Become Right.

    I strive to emulate this approach, not always with perfect success, but I’m getting better at it. I’m CERTAINLY a lot better at saying “my bad” when I’m wrong and this is pointed out to me.

    There’s no reason why the heart association HAS to cling to their old ideology, nor why being wrong HAS to destroy their organization. But many people do believe this sort of thing.

    I once took over software development at a two-person company. A few weeks into the job, one of the owners asked me if such-and-such was possible. I told her I didn’t know, but I’d find out.

    She thanked me for saying “I don’t know.” Turns out the previous programmer would never admit to not knowing everything there is to know, so if she asked for a feature and he didn’t know how to do it, he told her it couldn’t be done.

  18. Rob

    Given the mounting evidence, couldn’t someone sue the AHA for their bad advice causing heart attacks and death? A class action suit seems to fit best.

    That would be a very tough lawsuit to wage.

  19. Nads

    Australia’s sugar and vegetable oil slayer, David Gillespie, has been waging his own war against Australia’s Heart (Attack) Foundation. He’s a lawyer, not a doctor, and like you Tom has researched a lot (written four books) and is great at getting the message through. Of course he is public enemy number one to the sugar apologists, the dieticians!

    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2010/08/why-is-heart-foundation-in-denial-over.html
    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2010/06/heart-foundation-tick-or-coles-tick.html
    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2011/02/heart-foundation-says-sugar-isnt.html
    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2012/11/act-on-sugar-before-its-too-late.html
    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2013/01/a-day-late-and-dollar-short-australias.html

    Good stuff. So he’s like the lawyer trying to exonerate the innocent man.

    “The Confession” by John Grisham — a novel about a lawyer and a minister trying to save an innocent man from being executed — is a great read, by the way.

  20. Dan Sadler

    Tom, I’m a big fan of yours, and I bought the movie too. I came to the conclusion that saturated fat was good before I bought the movie, and Fathead confirmed what I thought was right.
    The reason I am replying is I am wondering if you have ever had a chance to learn about Vitamin D/sunlight deficiency. I just found out about it, and I was surprised that all of the lies the dermatoloist community does to keep people from knowing about it, just like the anti saturated fat people lie also. I really think the Vitamin D people make a pretty convincing case.
    I just wanted to tell you, just in case you don’t know. Love the blog!

    Sure, I’ve written about vitamin D a few times on the blog. Dermatologists tell people to avoid the sun, so they become vitamin D deficient.

  21. Jim Butler

    Sooooo many similarities to climate…it’s stunning.

    Can’t wait for your follow up.

    Jim

  22. Danny J Albers

    Tom just go ahead and add the Candian Heart and Stroke Foundation to your list. Most of their sponsors are drug companies and their health check logo is a likewise joke. I actually took a picture once of the egg aisle, both EGGs and EGG Beaters and Yolk free Egg Beaters were all health check logo’d! What? So much for consumer guidance huh?

    http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.4389517/k.3AF2/Our_National_Corporate_Partners.htm

    Sponsors are all Becel and drug companies…

    No surprises there.

  23. Janet

    Our local paper ran an article this week seeking ‘wellness volunteers’ for a Texas A&M community education program. Sounds good. What are they going to do? Recruit volunteers who will pay $50 each for a 40 hour course in wellness and obligate themselves to 40 hours of distributing that information in their community.

    As a retired RN, I don’t mind volunteering in my fat, sick community. (parking lots at the local clinics are always full and motorized carts at the Walmart are always in use) Then I read the volunteer agreement in the application for the program. The last line before you sign says: “I must present the research-based information on which Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s educational programs and services are based.” I’m guessing that a call to the coordinator of the program reveals that the program is….low fat, whole grain, eat less, move more. The evidence base is: “it’s proven and widely accepted”.

    Well, darn!!! I’d pay $50 to help my community but not with their evidence-based stuff. I like these people around here too much.

    If only their “evidence-based” advice were based on evidence.

  24. Ellen

    They’d probably end up with a massive class action suit against them, they’ll never admit they were wrong.

    Someone at the American Diabetes Association pretty much admitted that (off the record) to an acquaintance of mine: if they reverse themselves now, they’re looking at potentially huge lawsuits.

  25. Tom Welsh

    “Subway recently paid more than $600,000. Imagine the difficulty the AHA would have announcing their low-fat advice is wrong after collecting that kind of dough”.

    I’m with you all the way, Buzz, up to that final statement. Ever met a financial adviser? A government minister? A business consultant? A lawyer? An ECONOMIST? All people who quite often give completely wrong advice, and blandly ignore the consequences. Even doctors are not unknown to make completely wrong diagnoses, and stick to them through thick and thin. (If the patient ever gets the right diagnosis from another doctor, and eventually makes a full recovery, the first doctor’s reaction is apt to be along the lines of, “She maliciously presented with misleading symptoms”).

    Sure, the phenomenon is rampant.

  26. Tom Welsh

    Stick it to them, Tom! Maybe one day, when NuSI and the other similar organizations that will soon be springing up have presented their conclusions, we can launch the mother of all class action suits… After all, the one redeeming feature of those people to whom *following the money* leads you is that they have lots and lots of money.

  27. Darren Crisp

    Great post Tom, I hope it’s Ok but I’ve been linking your posts to my Face Book page, in the hopes of getting some of my “digital friends” on board with LCHF lifestyle. I think it’s starting to work.

    Keep it up!

    It’s not only okay, I appreciate you getting the word around.

  28. George @ the High Fat hep C Diet

    You see it in various dietitians’ responses to the Sydney study –
    “there was nothing wrong with the advice to consume more linoleic acid, you just needed to also consume more monounsaturated fat, or drink less alcohol, or consume more omega 3 or antioxidants, or do something, anything, to protect yourself from it so it could be as good for you as we believed! And if really it isn’t good for you, why, that’s what we’ve been trying to tell you all along – eat less fat!
    For we are wise and you are not, so whatever happens to you cannot be our fault.”

    The alternative is to say, “Hmm … everything I learned in school and have been telling my clients for all these years is wrong.”

  29. zoe harcombe

    A wise dude called Alexander Pope said, “A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”

    Alas the AHA has no intention of being wiser today!

    Sad but true. I’m no fan of John Maynard Keynes’ economic theories, but I like this quote attributed to him: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

  30. John

    I’ll label my concern “Industrial Inertia.” It would be interesting to know how much investment there is in food production and distribution. I once tried to add up all American annual subsidies and I came to over three hundred billion dollars. I expect total investment is in the trillions, maybe even tens of trillions around the globe. This money pushes and delivers cheap, attractive, profitable food. It employs a gazillion workers from farmers to processors to dietitians. It is investment that has been made on the assumption that factory food is healthy — amazing but true. Yes, of course it’s wrong, but how do you stop this unstoppable force? How do you turn shift it on a new set of tracks? We can’t expect change to be easy. We can’t supply truly healthy food to seven billion souls. Sudden change will cause starvation and social instability. Which sin do you want, unhealthiness or anarchy? This will take some time to fix.

    Yes, it’s a strange place where we find ourselves. Egg or pig produced by Mother Nature = bad, oils and cereals that required industrial processing = good.

  31. Catherine Reynolds

    I found this “advice” on the website of a long-established British company, Boots the Chemist:
    Facts about cholesterol
    Is the cholesterol in egg yolks the “good” or “bad” kind? Can you “burn” cholesterol by exercising? Which has more cholesterol, butter or a peanut butter?

    Most people know that fat is bad for them, but many are also confused about how cholesterol differs from fats. The fat issue is actually the most clearly defined topic in nutrition. Many people in the UK would benefit from cutting the fat in their diet. They need to do it now and for the rest of their lives, for the sake of their hearts, health and waistlines.

    Can you burn off cholesterol?
    Cholesterol is a type of lipid, just as fats are. However, unlike fat, cholesterol can’t be exercised off, sweated out or burned for energy. It is found only in animal products, including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, organ meats and high-fat dairy products.

    Is cholesterol good or bad?
    Just as homemade oil-and-vinegar dressing separates into a watery pool with a fat-slick topping, so would fats and cholesterol if they were dumped directly into the blood. To solve this dilemma, the body transports fat and cholesterol by coating them with a water-soluble “bubble” of protein. This protein-fat bubble is called a lipoprotein.

    Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) carry cholesterol to the tissues. This is “bad” cholesterol, since high LDL levels are linked to increased risk of heart disease.
    High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) carry excess cholesterol back to the liver, which processes and excretes the cholesterol. HDLs are “good” cholesterol; the more HDL you have, the lower your risk of developing heart disease.
    HDLs and LDLs are found only in your blood, not in food.
    Test your cholesterol
    Your risk of heart disease can be assessed with a blood- cholesterol test. In this test, your total-cholesterol reading should approximate the sum of your LDL, HDL and other lipoproteins. If you have 3.5 mg of total cholesterol, or less, for every 1 mg of HDLs, then your cholesterol ratio is ideal. According to guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Programme in the US:

    Total cholesterol should be 5.0 mmol/L or less.
    LDL should be 3.0mmol/L or less after an overnight fast.
    HDL should be 1.2mmol/L or more.
    Total cholesterol/HDL ratio should be 4.5 or less.
    However, if you have heart disease or diabetes total cholesterol and LDL target readings will be lower.

    Fat facts
    The fats that supply calories, float in your blood and accumulate in your thighs and hips are called “triglycerides.” They can be saturated or unsaturated, and the unsaturated ones can be either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. For every ounce of triglycerides you eat, you add 250 calories (or 9 calories per gram – the weight of a raisin) to your diet. Only saturated fats increase blood levels of cholesterol and heart-disease risk.

    I’m just applying a sticking plaster to my head, having banged it repeatedly on my desk……

    Next time you should pad your desk first. I’m learning to do that.

  32. Vicki McKinnon

    I am ridiculed by certain friends for reading labels. I always read labels, especially if a product triggers an impulse to buy. Almost every time I put it back. We need to be leaders, not sheep. My dilema is that I need to be low fat as well as low carb. It’s difficult.

    That would be difficult. Why low-fat? Gallbladder issue?

  33. Nads

    Australia’s sugar and vegetable oil slayer, David Gillespie, has been waging his own war against Australia’s Heart (Attack) Foundation. He’s a lawyer, not a doctor, and like you Tom has researched a lot (written four books) and is great at getting the message through. Of course he is public enemy number one to the sugar apologists, the dieticians!

    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2010/08/why-is-heart-foundation-in-denial-over.html
    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2010/06/heart-foundation-tick-or-coles-tick.html
    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2011/02/heart-foundation-says-sugar-isnt.html
    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2012/11/act-on-sugar-before-its-too-late.html
    http://www.raisin-hell.com/2013/01/a-day-late-and-dollar-short-australias.html

    Good stuff. So he’s like the lawyer trying to exonerate the innocent man.

    “The Confession” by John Grisham — a novel about a lawyer and a minister trying to save an innocent man from being executed — is a great read, by the way.

  34. Mike P

    If only the AHA, and other organizations, would follow the ten habits of highly successful hunter-gatherers from the Primal Connection….

    Great post Tom!

  35. Rocky Angelucci

    Another great book that complements “Mistakes Were Made” very nicely is “Wrong: Why experts* keep failing us–and how to know when not to trust them” by David H. Freedman.

  36. Danny J Albers

    Tom just go ahead and add the Candian Heart and Stroke Foundation to your list. Most of their sponsors are drug companies and their health check logo is a likewise joke. I actually took a picture once of the egg aisle, both EGGs and EGG Beaters and Yolk free Egg Beaters were all health check logo’d! What? So much for consumer guidance huh?

    http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.4389517/k.3AF2/Our_National_Corporate_Partners.htm

    Sponsors are all Becel and drug companies…

    No surprises there.

  37. Scott

    Kind of like what you said about the food pyramid, they’re never gonna admit it’s based on bad science, they’ll just convince themselves that we the public just don’t understand it and change it to a plate or a square.

    Yup, same principle in action.

  38. Bruce

    Speaking of Vitamin D defency. Fox News ran a piece last week on vitamin D defency. The article listed several ways to get more vitamin d. One of the ways to get more was to geat some sun. Which is true. But they had to remind people to wear sunscreen so they didn’t get skin cancer. Head Bang on Desk.

    Ugh. Since I removed frankenfats from my diet and replaced them with natural fats, I’m much more resistant to burning, even with my Irish skin.

  39. Janet

    Our local paper ran an article this week seeking ‘wellness volunteers’ for a Texas A&M community education program. Sounds good. What are they going to do? Recruit volunteers who will pay $50 each for a 40 hour course in wellness and obligate themselves to 40 hours of distributing that information in their community.

    As a retired RN, I don’t mind volunteering in my fat, sick community. (parking lots at the local clinics are always full and motorized carts at the Walmart are always in use) Then I read the volunteer agreement in the application for the program. The last line before you sign says: “I must present the research-based information on which Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s educational programs and services are based.” I’m guessing that a call to the coordinator of the program reveals that the program is….low fat, whole grain, eat less, move more. The evidence base is: “it’s proven and widely accepted”.

    Well, darn!!! I’d pay $50 to help my community but not with their evidence-based stuff. I like these people around here too much.

    If only their “evidence-based” advice were based on evidence.

  40. Wes

    Wow Tom, you are being pretty generous with the AHA. When something stinks, it’s usually about money. Where does the funding for the global Heart Association organization come from? They know exactly what they are doing and they knew in 1977 when one lobby beat out another and the food pyramid was born. The AHA makes billions of dollars for agriculture and sugar and they get their cut. The genius of it is that they are also funded by pharmaceuticals that benefit from dietary guidelines which have made a generation of people sick. It’s a sweet funding model, the envy of any “non-proft” organization.

    I believe in “Follow the Money” as well, but people who are making money promoting a cause can still consider themselves the good guys and fool themselves into dismissing evidence they’re wrong.

  41. Digger

    I think the Beef Farmers and Egg Producers should pool their resources and go after the next high profile clown who says “arterycloggingsaturatedfat”.

    They’ve tried publicizing studies that supported their cause before but got shredded in the media. The assumption was that it’s like tobacco companies trotting out studies suggesting cigarettes don’t cause cancer.

  42. Ellen

    They’d probably end up with a massive class action suit against them, they’ll never admit they were wrong.

    Someone at the American Diabetes Association pretty much admitted that (off the record) to an acquaintance of mine: if they reverse themselves now, they’re looking at potentially huge lawsuits.

  43. Darren Crisp

    Great post Tom, I hope it’s Ok but I’ve been linking your posts to my Face Book page, in the hopes of getting some of my “digital friends” on board with LCHF lifestyle. I think it’s starting to work.

    Keep it up!

    It’s not only okay, I appreciate you getting the word around.

  44. Denise Moore

    I liked the example of the woman who married a bad man. I have a friend who left her perfectly good husband for “the love of her life”. Well, now that she’s together with TLOHL, he’s turned into a TOTAL JERK. But, she made the public statement that husband was horrible and boyfriend was great, so she’s sticking with boyfriend. She will not admit that breaking up her family for “TLOHR” was a bad idea. She’s now completely miserable, (as is her ex-husband, and 2 children). But she’s sticking with Jerk boyfriend.

    That’s unfortunately quite common. I understand it, I’m sorry to say. I stayed with my previous fiancee at least a year longer than I should have. When I looked back on the situation later, I felt like quite the fool for not bolting much sooner.

  45. zoe harcombe

    A wise dude called Alexander Pope said, “A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”

    Alas the AHA has no intention of being wiser today!

    Sad but true. I’m no fan of John Maynard Keynes’ economic theories, but I like this quote attributed to him: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

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