by Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD
(Donald Miller is a cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle)
Types and Structure of Fats
Evidence Supporting the Lipid Hypothesis
Rabbits, Cholesterol, and Atherosclerosis
In 1913 a Russian physiologist fed high doses of cholesterol to rabbits and showed that cholesterol caused atherosclerotic changes in the rabbit’s arterial intima like that seen with human atherosclerosis. Over the ensuing decades other investigators did atherosclerosis research on cholesterol-fed rabbits, which they cited in support of the diet-cholesterol theory of heart disease.
Framingham Heart Study
In 1948, government-funded investigators began following some 5,000 men and women in Framingham, Massachusetts to see who developed coronary heart disease. They found that people with elevated cholesterol were more likely to be diagnosed with CHD and die from it.
Six years later the American Heart Association began promoting what it called the Prudent Diet, where "corn oil, margarine, chicken, and cold cereal replaced butter, lard, beef, and eggs."
Ancel Keys Six-Country and Seven-Country Studies
Ancel Keys, the father of K-rations for the military, published a study in 1953 that correlated deaths from heart disease with the percentage of calories from fat in the diet. He found that fat consumption was associated with an increased rate of death from heart disease in the six countries that he studied.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, chaired by Senator George McGovern, released, in 1977, its "Dietary Goals for the United States," designed to reduce fat intake and avoid cholesterol-rich foods. These dietary goals became become official government policy.
McDonalds and the Center for Science in the Public Interest
Next, in 1984 the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, joined the fray and started to coerce fast-food restaurants and the food industry to stop baking and frying food with animal fats and tropical oils. McDonalds fried its French fries with beef fat and palm oil. That's why they tasted so good. But the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s well-orchestrated saturated fat attack coerced McDonalds and other fast-food chains to switch to partially hydrogenated, trans-fat vegetable oil.
USDA Food Pyramid
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
Beginning in 1980, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services has published every five years an updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The most recent one, published in December 2010, recommends reducing saturated fat intake to 7 percent of caloric intake, down from its previously recommended 10 percent.
Meet the Fats
Other Countries with CHD-Death and Fat Consumption Data
Evidence against fat wilts upon close scrutiny. In his Six Country Study, Ancel Keys ignored data available from 16 other countries that did not fall in line with his desired graph. If he had chosen these six other countries [on the left side], or even more strikingly, these six countries [on the bottom right] he could have shown that increasing the percent of calories from fat in the diet reduces the number of deaths from coronary heart disease.
22 Countries with Such Data including four other groups of people
If Keys had included all 22 countries in his study, the result would have been a clutter of dots like this.
The Hunter-Gatherer Diet
Reasons Why Saturated Fats Are Good For Us
The Biologic Importance of Saturated Fat
There is good reason why 54 percent of the fat in mother’s milk is saturated fat. Cell membranes need saturated fatty acids to function properly and be "waterproof." The heart prefers saturated long-chain 16-carbon palmitic and 18-C stearic acid (over carbohydrates) for energy. Bones need them to assimilate calcium effectively. They protect the liver from the adverse effects of alcohol and medications like Tylenol. Lung surfactant is composed entirely of saturated 16-C palmitic acid, and when present in sufficient amounts prevents asthma and other breathing disorders. Saturated fats function as signaling messengers for hormone production.
Cracks in the Wall of Diet-Cholesterol Heart Orthodoxy
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is a leading establishment medical journal that defends the lipid hypothesis. Even this journal has backed down and is now reporting cracks in the wall of diet-cholesterol-heart orthodoxy. A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease does not support the notion that saturated fats increase the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease.
And this journal also recently published a prospective cohort study of 53,000 women and men comparing their intake of carbohydrates and saturated fats and found that replacement of saturated fats with high glycemic index carbohydrates significantly increases the risk of heart attacks.
If not cholesterol, then what causes heart disease?
Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory process brought on by eating too many carbohydrates and omega-6 vegetable oils. Stress plays a role and possibly also bacterial infection.
A deficiency of various vitamins shown here may also play a role in causing atherosclerotic heart disease, as may an excess or deficiency of various minerals.
Prevalence of Obesity among US adults 1950-2010