This is the last thing I expected to see on WebMD:
For more than forty years, we have been recommending a relatively
consistent dietary approach to prevent heart disease. We tell our
patients to avoid saturated fat
from animal products and to increase intake of fruits and vegetables.
This recommendation is widespread and widely endorsed by the American
Heart Association and other organizations.
And it makes sense,
right? Eating cholesterol and saturated fat should translate into more
cholesterol and plaque in your heart's coronary arteries.
Except when it doesn't.
Common wisdom was first put to the test when we began to learn more
about how dietary cholesterol impacts blood cholesterol levels – many
physicians then reconsidered prior recommendations to avoid eggs. Eggs
are not very high in saturated fat, but are high in cholesterol. Eating
cholesterol was believed to increase blood levels of cholesterol,
thereby increasing the risk of heart disease.
But it turns out that dietary cholesterol plays a pretty small role in your own cholesterol profile. Many now recommend eggs
as a high-protein breakfast food that may actually be preferable to
refined carbohydrates and simple sugars found in many cereals and baked
goods. More on those later.
So now that eggs were in,
cardiologists united against saturated fat – a clear "no-no" that no
one could argue with. But a growing number of journalists and
scientists began to question the saturated fat-heart disease hypothesis
with increasing justification.
In recent weeks, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
tried to solve the controversy once and for all. Pooled data from
twenty-plus studies and nearly 350,000 participants and found no difference in the risk of heart disease between people with the lowest and highest intake of saturated fat.
is huge. It's like telling people that bicycle helmets don't protect
them from head injuries or seatbelts don't save lives. Sure, it's not a
perfect study. Some of the research relies on people's recollections of
what they ate, and it's hard to draw any conclusions about whether
there may be some benefit to a low-saturated fat diet in older or
higher risk populations.
But we can't ignore such a clear
challenge to our way of thinking and hope that it just goes away. We
need more research, more data and more open minds. Many are calling for
a new approach to official dietary recommendations that takes the focus
off of pyramids and nutrients like protein and fat, and more towards
general dietary patterns.
- James Beckerman, MD, FACC
"This is huge" is right. It'll be interesting to see how many defections it takes before the mainstream medical organizations admit that the last fifty years of nutrition advice has been killing people. I normally write about health stuff at Meatasaur.us, but this is a big deal.