Saturated fat does not cause heart disease

We have not even established a consistent association between saturated fat and heart disease. The study to look at this has not even been done. You may like to read that again if you thought that the trial against saturated fat had even been opened, let alone closed. Here are the confessions from the UK Government, since 1984, that the trial has not been done and nor will it be…

–    “There has been no controlled clinical trial of the effect of decreasing dietary intake of saturated fatty acids on the incidence of coronary heart disease nor is it likely that such a trial will be undertaken.” (COMA – Committee On Medical Aspects, 1984). (Ref 9)

–    “It has been accepted by experienced coronary disease researchers that the perfect controlled dietary trial for prevention of coronary heart disease has not yet been done and we are unlikely ever to see it done.” (Truswell, 1994). (Ref 10)

–    “The ideal controlled dietary trial for prevention of heart disease has not yet been done and it is unlikely ever to be done.” (FSA, 2009). (Ref 11)

When Ancel Keys ended the 1950’s having failed to find a connection between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood, he turned his attention to saturated fat. This was an incomprehensible move. Given that cholesterol is only found in animal foods and given that all real fats (saturated, mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated fats) are found (in differing proportions) in all animal foods, having effectively exonerated animal foods, why accuse fat?

(Pause for a moment for some common sense – do you really think that nature is out to get us? Why on earth would nature put anything harmful, saturated fat, in the exact same foods that have all the vitamins, protein, minerals and life vital substances?!)

Surely the logical culprit to suspect would be carbohydrates generally and refined carbohydrates and modern processed foods specifically. We had no heart disease for 3.5 million years and no processed food. Then we had both. Do we suspect the beef or the beef flavoured crisps?!

Keys spent the period from 1956 onwards doing The Seven Countries Study (Ref 12) (which should be far more widely known about than it is).

The findings were published in 1970. Keys observed some weak associations between saturated fat consumption in seven hand-picked countries and heart disease in those countries. I can observe people singing in the bath – it doesn’t mean that bathing cause singing or that singing causes bathing! Keys also observed many complete contradictions in his own data and far more conflicting evidence in countries that he chose to ignore.

In The Obesity Epidemic, I drive a bus through the original numbers in this study (as others have done before me, although not as comprehensively). Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, author of “The Great Cholesterol Con did two alternative Seven Country Studies of his own.

He analysed the World Health Organisation data to do this. His first seven countries were those with the lowest consumption of saturated fat. These were Georgia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Croatia, Macedonia and the Ukraine. Kendrick’s second seven countries were those with the highest consumption of saturated fat. These were Austria, Finland, Belgium, Iceland, Netherlands, Switzerland and France. Every single one of the seven countries with the lowest consumption of saturated fat had significantly higher heart disease than every single one of the countries with the highest consumption of saturated fat. This concludes the exact opposite of the Keys’ Seven Countries assertion. Does Kendrick go on to assert that high saturated fat consumption causes low heart disease and low saturated fat consumption causes high heart disease. Of course he doesn’t. He is too sensible and responsible to do so (actually, having met Kendrick, I take this back! He was probably laughing or crying too much to do so).

There are three facts that I can state without any fear of being proven wrong:

1)    It has not been proven that saturated fat consumption causes heart disease;

2)    It has not even been proven that there is a consistent association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease;

3)    The definitive study to try to prove this has not been done and likely never will be.

The government and the media scream at you “saturated fat is going to kill you”. I am telling you that I have never heard anything more ridiculous in my life. How do you, the innocent punter, find a way through this conflict? Here’s how – check the government list of saturated fat. The National Health Service (NHS) and  Food Standards Agency (FSA) have virtually identical lists and they include biscuits, cakes, chocolate, crisps, ice cream, pastries, pies, sausages, savoury snacks, sweets – are you seeing the problem? I will lead any campaign to ban all of those evil horrors, but because they are processed foods and primarily carbohydrates (you may be interested to know that most have more unsaturated fat than saturated – not that one is better or worse than the other – but just to highlight that this is a problem caused by the government and media not knowing their fats from their carbs or their real food from their processed food.) If there is any butter or eggs or real meat in any processed food a) there won’t be much because that’s the expensive stuff and processed food needs to be cheap and b) it will be the healthiest part of the product by a margin.

Butter is also on the government list of things to avoid. This is probably why the UK is suffering malnutrition in vitamins A and D. It is probably why the recent food policy conference was held at Unilever House and hosted by Unilever (makers of margarine – man’s alternative to nature’s butter) and attended by the economic development, sorry, health, minister, Andrew Lansley.  The National Food survey tells us that UK citizens eat 40 grams of butter, on average, per person per week (Ref 13). This compares with 1,423 grams of flour (Ref 14) and 731 grams of sugar (Ref 15). Do you think that the ounce and a bit of butter is causing the obesity epidemic and other epidemics of modern illness, or the two and a bit kilos of flour and sugar?

Ref 9: Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy, “Diet and Cardiovascular Disease: Report of the Panel on Diet in Relation to Cardiovascular Disease”, (1984). (See reference 166 The Obesity Epidemic)

Ref 10: A Stewart Truswell, “Review of dietary intervention studies: effect on coronary events and on total mortality”, Australian New Zealand Journal of Medicine, (1994). (See reference 194 The Obesity Epidemic)

Ref 11: Letter from the FSA to Zoë Harcombe, (25 September 2009). (See reference 387 The Obesity Epidemic)

Ref 12: Keys et al, Circulation, (April 1970). (See reference 131 The Obesity Epidemic)

Ref 13: DEFRA, Family Food Survey, (Table 1.1), (2008). (See reference 109 The Obesity Epidemic)

Ref 14: (See reference 121 The Obesity Epidemic)

Ref 15: (See reference 120 The Obesity Epidemic)