Low saturated fat diets don't curb heart disease risk or help you live longer

March 5, 2014

Diets low in saturated fat don't curb heart disease risk or help you live longer, says a leading US cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy in an editorial in the open access journal Open Heart.

And current dietary advice to replace saturated fats with carbohydrates or omega 6-rich polyunsaturated fats is based on flawed and incomplete data from the 1950s, argues Dr James DiNicolantonio.

Dietary guidelines should be urgently reviewed and the vilification of saturated fats stopped to save lives, he insists.

DiNicolantonio points out that the demonisation of saturated fats dates back to 1952, when research suggested a link between high dietary saturated fat intake and deaths from heart disease.

But the study author drew his conclusions on data from six countries, choosing to ignore the data from a further 16, which didn't fit with his hypothesis, and which subsequent analysis of all 22 countries' data, disproved, says DiNicolantonio.

Nevertheless, the bad boy image stuck, particularly after US President Eisenhower had a heart attack in his 50s, points out DiNicolantonio in an accompanying podcast.

And it prompted the belief that since these fats increase total cholesterol—a flawed theory in itself, says DiNicolantonio— they must also increase . And as foodstuffs with the highest calorie density, the thinking was that reduced intake would naturally curb obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

But the evidence, which continues to mount, suggests otherwise, he says.

There is now a strong argument in favour of the consumption of refined carbohydrates as the causative dietary factor behind the surge in obesity and diabetes in the US, he says.

And while a low fat diet may lower 'bad' (LDL) cholesterol, there are two types of LDL cholesterol. And switching to carbs may increase pattern B (small dense) LDL, which is more harmful to heart health than pattern A (large buoyant) LDL, as well as creating a more unfavourable overall lipid profile, he says.

Furthermore, several other studies indicate that a low carb diet is better for weight loss and lipid profile than a low fat diet, while large observational studies have not found any conclusive proof that a cuts risk, he says.

But in the race to cut intake, several recommend upping polyunsaturated .

However, a recent analysis of published trial data shows that replacing saturated fats and trans with omega 6 fatty acids, without a corresponding rise in omega 3 fatty acids, seems to increase the risk of death from coronary heart and cardiovascular diseases.

"We need a public health campaign as strong as the one we had in the 70s and 80s demonising saturated fats, to say that we got it wrong," urges DiNicolantonio in the podcast.

The best diet to boost and maintain heart health is one low in refined carbohydrates, sugars and processed foods, he recommends.

And anyone who has had a attack should not be thinking of replacing saturated fats with refined carbs or omega 6 fatty acids—particularly those found in processed vegetable oils containing large amounts of corn or safflower oil, he says.

Explore further: Amount and types of fat we eat affect health and risk of disease

More information: The cardiometabolic consequences of replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates or omega 6 polyunsaturated fats: Do the dietary guidelines have it wrong? Open Heart, DOI: 10.1136/openhrt-2013-000032

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4.8 / 5 (4) Mar 05, 2014
"We need a public health campaign as strong as the one we had in the 70s and 80s demonising saturated fats, to say that we got it wrong," urges DiNicolantonio in the podcast.
I think we need to take a deep breath, and plan a proper, orchestrated effort to research this out, once and for all.

There's no point in having the public turn their diet upside down every six months as "new and amazing" studies pop up, opposing the previous ones.

No wonder people are increasingly giving up, and just eating whatever from the elbow level shelf.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2014
Well it should be obvious that a low fat diet does not equate to low fat people. All one needs to do is just look around you in the US.

Just as this article states it is processed carbohydrates and especially sugars that make one an extra large size.
not rated yet Mar 09, 2014
There is now a strong argument in favour of the consumption of refined carbohydrates as the causative dietary factor behind the surge in obesity and diabetes in the US, he says.

This does not surprise me, as it would not be the first time processed carbohydrates have been the cause of disease in the U.S.


I actually heard about Pellagra on "Dark Matters" television show.

Anyway, what do we do now, for the past couple decades, with food that has genetic engineering for pesticides in it, which we are eating?

The absence of a single micro-nutrient caused Pellagra, surely the introduction of a single biotic toxin is doing similar damage, albeit un-seen?

I have neuropathy with an as-yet undetermined cause (though currently leaning to Vitamind D3 deficiency and calcium excess). yet am I to believe that these neurotoxins produced by the very engineered food we eat are not contributing to the problem?!

GM Corn is in everything we eat.
4 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2014
I am not opposed to gene splicing between related strains and species, or within the same species. I am opposed to gene splicing between unrelated species and unrelated genus, which is currently being done for the past two decades in the GM food industry.

You would not eat the Clostridium Botulinum organism, yet you eat it's DNA and trace amounts of the toxin every day (probably), if you eat anything which contains GM corn.

What's worse, the pollen from these strains are now in the environment permanently, and have probably permanently corrupted the agricultural ecosystem, as there is no way to know whether seeds you have are the infected strain unless they are labelled. It's not like average farmers can do a DNA test on their crop to ensure they haven't been infected by the modified strain...
not rated yet Mar 14, 2014
They forget that it is essential to exercice in proportion to the carbohydrates that you eat, because too much of energy inside any carbohydrates or any fat finish in bad fat and obesity.
Cycling strongly in big mountains need a lot of carbohydrates !!
Even retired like me, you must, each day at least, run or cycle fast a slope with a difference in height of 200m in less than 15 minutes. This exercice burns less than 100g of carbohydrates !!
Thus to burn a lot of carbohydrates or fat, each day, you must run or cycle to the top of mountains at 4000m !!!
not rated yet Apr 27, 2014
Moreover, it is already well known, since more than 20 years, studied and explained by T Colin Campbell at Cornell, in his book The China Study, ben Bella Books Dallas, http://en.wikiped...Campbell and to reduce your risk of heart disease by a factor of 5 to 10, you must reduce the amount of animal proteins, meat, milk, cheese, you eat to that of our poors ancestors or old Chineses working hard for very rare meat and many vegetables.
Like Bill Clinton, you will loose weight and have a better heart !!

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