We have to put away our fear of normal saturated dietary fat. People struggle with this concept. Saturated dietary fat is not only safe but protective! For people in our generation this is an idea that is hard to accept. But it is no longer debatable! Dr. Eenfeldt discusses this in a recent post. The study was just published in March 2012. I think the chart is self explanatory. More saturated fat, less heart disease. Less saturated fat, more heart disease.
In 1988, the U.S. Surgeon General decided to finally put the controversy to rest. They decided to gather all the available evidence together to show that saturated fat causes heart disease. Eleven years later the project was disbanded. The reason given was that “the amount of expertise and human resources needed to complete the project was not fully anticipated.” Right. It took them eleven years to figure this out? What had they been doing up until then? We know that the science behind the theory was clearly not holding up. If they had found the smallest bit of evidence you can bet that not only would they have publicized it, but we would have never heard the end of it.
Still worried about normal saturated fat? Look at Japan. Japan at one point led the world in stroke mortality. In the mid-1980’s, there was a campaign to increase normal dietary fat to reduce stroke deaths in Japan. Boy did it ever fall! It is the single greatest fall in death rate for a disease in any given population that many of us have ever seen! A study published in 2004 showed that the risk of dying from a stroke in Japan fell from 1334 (per 100,000 people) to 224. Almost a 6 fold reduction! If you are wondering whether the people in Japan started dropping over from heart attacks after increasing their dietary fat, that did not happen either!
Finally, look at the Women’s Health Initiative. This was a randomized, controlled study that included 50,000 women. It ran 8 years. Half the women were given a low-fat diet which ended up being about 29% of the diet. The control group ate 37% of the diet as fat. For the women who had a prior history of cardiovascular disease, if they ate the low-fat diet there was a 26% greater chance of having a heart attack. The authors failed to comment on this. When they were asked to comment, no reply was given.
This is just a small sampling of the evidence disproving the dietary fat concerns. There is much, much more. Saturated fat is not harmful and is Helpful!