Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death, and for the past 60 years, saturated fat and cholesterol have been wrongfully vilified as the culprits. Fortunately, the truth is finally starting to see the light of day.
Dr. Kummerow, author of Cholesterol Is Not the Culprit, is now nearly 100 years old. He has spent eight decades immersed in the science of lipids, cholesterol, and heart disease, and he was the first researcher to identify which fats actually clog your arteries.
His work shows that it’s not saturated fat that causes heart disease, rather trans fats are to blame. Dr. Kummerow was the first to publish a scientific article on this association, all the way back in 1957! Needless to say, the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) move to get trans fats out of the American diet is long overdue.
Now, the rest of the world is finally starting to catch up with him. A review from Cambridge University, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in March, is the latest analysis to confirm the absolute lack of evidence that consuming saturated fat leads to heart disease.
They also found no basis for guidelines that recommend increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats to lower your cardiac risk, calling into question all of the standard nutritional guidelines related to heart health.
Saturated Fat or Trans Fat—Which Really Causes Heart Disease?
As noted in the June 23, 2014 Time Magazine cover story and the Today Health video above, refined carbs, sugar, and processed foods are the real enemy—not the saturated fats found in foods such as butter, lard, or eggs.
Part of the confusion on fats revolves around its impact on LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. According to the conventional view, high LDL is correlated with heart disease, and saturated fat does tend to raise LDL. However, we now understand that there are TWO kinds of LDL cholesterol particles:
- Small, dense LDL cholesterol
- Large, “fluffy” LDL cholesterol
The latter is not “bad” at all. Research has confirmed that large LDL particles do not contribute to heart disease. The small, dense LDL particles, however, do contribute to the build-up of plaque in your arteries, and trans fat increases small, dense LDL. Saturated fat, on the other hand, increases large, fluffy—and benign—LDL.
More importantly, research has also shown that small, dense LDL particles are increased by eating refined sugar and carbohydrates, such as bread, bagels, and soda. Together, trans fats and refined carbs do far more harm than saturated fat ever possibly could.
Unfortunately, when the cholesterol hypothesis took hold, the food industry switched over to low-fat foods, replacing healthy saturated fats like butter and lard with harmful trans fats (vegetables oils, margarine, etc.), and lots of refined sugar and processed fructose. Ever-rising obesity and heart disease rates clearly illustrate the ramifications of this flawed approach.
Flawed Nutritional Guidelines Have Created a ‘Pandemic’ of Heart Disease
Between 1920 and 1960, Americans’ butter consumption declined by over 75 percent, yet heart disease went from a relatively unknown condition to the number one killer. Consumption of trans fat radically increased in the mid-1950s, and rates of sudden death from heart disease have faithfully risen right along with trans fat consumption.
Today, there are 30,000 items in the American diet that contain trans fats, according to the FDA. That should give you an indication of just how prevalent these dangerous fats have become!
Basically, if you eat processed foods, you’re likely eating trans fats. Many products that claim to be “zero trans fat” simply have portion sizes that are so ridiculously small that the trans fat falls below the permissible limits and therefore do not need to be listed.
Authority Nutrition has assembled several graphs with side-by-side comparisons of obesity and heart disease trends with nutritional trends over time. These graphs make it easier to visualize how the low-fat recommendations have done you no favors whatsoever.7 For example, the following graph shows how the European countries that eat the least saturated fats have the highest risk of heart disease:
In Europe, the Countries That Eat the Most Saturated Fat Have the Lowest Risk of Heart Disease
Data from: Hoenselaar, R. Further response from Hoenselaar. British Journal of Nutrition, 2012.