Keys, cholesterol and rabbits

The following quotation, attributed to Ancel Keys, has been repeated quite often, but with the source for it not always clear:

There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. None. And we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.”

I have referenced it as having come from an interview with Ancel Keys in Eating Well magazine, 1997, but I have expressed concern at the source being less robust than I would like. I most recently said that in this post on eggs and dietary cholesterol.  I’m extremely grateful to Bob Kaplan who got in touch with me following that comment to share a copy of the article and the precise quotation within.  The whole article is interesting and we have that quotation finally properly sourced.

I have shared that I think that this (1954) quotation from Keys was even more interesting: “The evidence – both from experiments and from field surveys – indicates that cholesterol content, per se, of all natural diets has no significant effect on either the cholesterol level or the development of atherosclerosis in man” (p.182 – original emphasis)” (Keys A, Anderson JT. The relationship of the diet to the development of atherosclerosis in man. In: National Research Council DoMS, ed. Symposium on atherosclerosis. Washington: National Academy of Sciences – National Research Council. 1954:181-96). It was even more interesting because it exonerated animal foods (which are the only sources of dietary cholesterol) from being involved in both the cholesterol level and the development of atherosclerosis. If only Keys had then turned his attention to plant foods. Alas…




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