End the war on saturated fat
by Mary Budinger —
We have been told for decades that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat has been demonized ever since Ancel Keys’s landmark “seven countries” study in 1970. But a key editorial in the British Medical Journal is asking us to “bust the myth of its role in heart disease.”
Author Dr. Aseem Malhotra, an interventional cardiology specialist registrar at Croydon University Hospital in London, asserts that unprocessed fatty foods — butter, cheese, eggs and yogurt — are good for your heart.
“The food industry has profited from the low-fat mantra for decades because foods that are marketed as low fat are often loaded with sugar,” Malhotra said. “We are now learning that added sugar in food is driving the obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
Malhotra’s paper highlights recent research that suggests that the mainstream approach of lowering a patient’s total cholesterol with statin drugs has failed to reduce heart disease. A 2009 UCLA study, for example, indicated that 75 percent of patients admitted to the hospital with acute heart attacks did not have high cholesterol. However, 66 percent of them had metabolic syndrome — a cluster of worrying signs including hypertension, high fasting blood sugar, abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and low HDL (“good” cholesterol).
Malhotra says cholesterol levels are not the real problem and that cutting sugar out of our diets should be a far greater priority. Sugar and carbs elevate the small, dense (type B) LDL particles that are implicated in cardiovascular disease.
“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,” Malhotra said. “Yet scientific evidence shows that this advice has, paradoxically, increased our cardiovascular risks. 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.”
Source: Malhotra, A. Saturated fat is not the major issue. British Medical Journal. October 22, 2013;347:f6340. Accessed at www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6340.
Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist who writes about nutrition and integrative medicine. 602-494-1999.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 5, October/November 2014.