Last week, I pointed out that traditional diets from all over the world have often contained a high percent of saturated fat yet have not led to heart disease or stroke. This fact provides evidence that saturated fat is not the villain it’s been made out to be. Much trouble could have been avoided if traditional diets had been considered in the decision making process regarding dietary guidelines. If, however, you are dubious about cultural anthropology other forms of evidence should help.
You may be asking, “what does the science say?” I previously cut away at the unsupported claims made from epidemiological studies. It’s worth mentioning, however, a meta-analysis of 21 studies involving 350,000 people followed for 14 years in which 11,000 developed cardiovascular disease. It was reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in the issue of 1/13/10. The conclusion of the authors was as follows: “The meta-analysis showed that there is no significant evidence to conclude that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.” If you will recall, this type of study if positive can show association but not causation but in the case of showing no association, which this one did,we can comfortably conclude no causation. (I hope that is clear.)
A more recent meta-analysis, this one in the March 2014 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at 76 studies in over 600,000 patients and concluded the following: “Current evidence does not support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of saturated fatty acids.” This should come as no surprise if you take a minute (or so) to think about it. The dietary powers that be and makers of guidelines have basically been suggesting that we substitute the fat from meat, dairy, eggs, tropical oils (i.e. Real Food) with stuff from a lab like corn oil, margarine, various soy extracts etc… (i.e. Not Real Food). Also consider an interesting fact: Human breast milk is 50-60% fat mostly saturated. Hmmmm…….is some government agency going to ban breast milk?
A plethora of studies and analyses have come out on the heals of these, all of which help exonerate saturated fat. Nina Teicholz, speaking to the Wall Street Journal, summarized the truth nicely: “There has never been solid evidence for the idea that saturated fats cause heart disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the last half century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.” Moving forward, let’s consider dietary recommendations that focus on real foods for disease prevention and good health.