Academic ResearchCholesterol

Keys, cholesterol and rabbits

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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…




5 thoughts on “Keys, cholesterol and rabbits

  • Thanks for clearing up source for Ancel Keys famous 1997 quote
    I have been trying for almost 2 years
    to my power point presentation
    “How the U.S. Government ruined our health”
    I don’t use any thing that I can’t confirm a source for
    I will refer anyone interested to your website
    Enjoy your work and efforts to find and spread the truth
    If you ever get to Chicago, IL I would love to meet you and show you my story.
    2 bypass operations, Lipitor triggered diabetes, 18 heart stents and more. BTW my diabetes is at least in remission and Doc thinks it could be REVERSED thanks to LC/HF last HbA1c 4.7
    God bless you best wishes for continued good health for you and your family
    Jack Holloway

    • Hi Jack
      Really happy to have been able to help. Huge congrats on your incredible health headlines – wow!
      Funnily enough we flew into Chicago last Sunday but only en route to Madison for the CrossFit games and conference. I’m speaking at the conference tomorrow. No plans to be actually in Chicago although we hear you have a great music festival this weekend!
      Best wishes – Zoe

  • Hello.

    Not related to this one, but I wonder if by any chance do you remember the authors of an old study in which participants were on a sucessful weight loss program just by eating sugar (or just carbs?? – not recall anymore)?

    I saw about it couple of years ago for the first time and now I can not find it anymore.


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