Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Narrowly-Focused Saturated Fat Study Contradicts Previous Research

This Washington Post story about a very small study claiming a single high-saturated fat meal can negate the positive effects of HDL "good" cholesterol protecting the body against clogged arteries is yet another in a long line of baseless attacks against livin' la vida low-carb and the consumption of healthy saturated fats.

Geez Louise, do we have to go through THIS again?!?!

Lead researcher Dr. Stephen Nicholls, a cardiologist and Associate Director of the Intravascular Ultrasound Core Laboratory at the Cleveland Clinic, along with his colleagues at The Heart Research Institute in Sydney, Australia, observed 14 men between the ages of 18 and 40 (average age: 29.5) who ate two meals exactly one month apart consisting of a piece of carrot cake and a milkshake.

The two meals had one primary difference between them--the kind of fat used in them. The first meal consisted of coconut oil which is high in saturated fat while the second meal used safflower oil which is high in polyunsaturated fat.

Dr. Nicholls conducted his study under the archaic assumption that saturated fat leads to the buildup of fat in the arteries causing them to get clogged and lead to heart attacks and strokes. Newer research in recent years has proven these long-held beliefs are inaccurate, but medical researchers and doctors still profess them as the gospel truth anyway.

Three hours after the saturated fat meal was consumed, Dr. Nicholls said he looked at the lining of the arteries and noticed they were unable to expand to increase blood flow in those study participants. After six hours, he said the anti-inflammatory qualities of the HDL cholesterol were actually reduced.

On the other hand, the polyunsaturated meal resulted in improvements in the anti-inflammatory qualities with less visible inflammatory markers present in the arteries following the meal than before the meal.

This study appears in the August 15, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Oh, don't you know the low-fatties are having a hayday with this study today. Too bad for them, this research is so narrowly-focused and contradictory of previous research on saturated fat that it is all for naught.

In fact, a recent study of healthy and successful individuals on weight loss who had lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for over one year found that their consumption of saturated fat rose from 12.3g daily to 154.0g daily, an unbelievable INCREASE of 1,250 percent!!! Do these people know something that Dr. Nicholls and his ilk don't? Apparently so!

As shocking as it may sound to people like Dr. Nicholls and the countless others in the medical profession like him who mindlessly spout "low-fat" as the dietary answer to every ailment, the truth of the matter is that SATURATED FAT CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU!!! Gasp! Can you say that in this day and age? Yep, you sure can as people need to stop being, as my friend Low-Carb Dave so succinctly blogged about recently, "fat phobic!"

Even the head of the preventative cardiogist from the New Orleans, LA-based Ochsner Clinic Foundation named Dr. Richard Milani was quoted in this story as being impressed by this study because it is "simple" and "very straightforward."

"Given a choice between something with polyunsaturated fat and saturated fat, please avoid the saturated fat," Dr. Milani said.

When I asked Anthony Colpo, author of the landmark book on fat and cholesterol called "The Great Cholesterol Con," to respond to Dr. Milani's comment about avoiding saturated fat, here's what he said.

"My advice would be to avoid this man's highly misguided advice like a putrid smell," Colpo told the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog.

Colpo went on to say that he goes into great detail about saturated fat in Chapter 8 of his book and that the conclusions drawn by Dr. Nicholls with his study are "utter garbage."

The researchers allegedly showed negative arterial changes and increases in inflammatory agents from ONE SINGLE meal...Whoopee!!" Colpo exclaimed.

Citing previous randomized, controlled clinical trials that are found throughout his book showing people on high polyunsaturated diets for the long-term actually show HIGHER levels of inflammatory agents and free radical activity than those on high-saturated diets, Colpo said there is no evidence that reducing saturated fat intake actually leads to improved cardiovascular or overall mortality rates.

"In fact, a number of these trials observed worse outcomes in the high-polyunsaturate group," Colpo noted, again reiterating that this information is included in great detail in his book.

But while the American Diabetes Association is backing away from condemning all fats, they are certainly not backing down from the notion that people should be consuming less than 7 percent of their calories from saturated fat. But as my low-carb blogging friend Regina Wilshire has proven with her $1,000 dietary challenge, that's a lot easier said than done. That is what has led doctor like this to call for a moratorium on any dietary advice that has not been verifiably proven in large, long-term studies.

And therein lies the problem. All of this brew-ha-ha over saturated fat doesn't have a leg to stand on when it comes to research over the long-term. FOURTEEN PEOPLE were in this so-called study and everyone is tripping all over themselves saying how much this proves saturated fat is so bad. Puh-leeze people! This reminds me of the study that came out earlier this year about that ONE woman who allegedly experienced ketoacidosis on the Atkins diet. What a freakin' joke!

Despite how small his study was, Dr. Nicholls said he was proud of the results of his study and boldly proclaimed his study has a great "take-home, public-health message."

"It's further evidence to support the need to aggressively reduce the amount of saturated fat consumed in the diet," he concluded.

Um, no it doesn't, Dr. Nicholls. Perhaps your "cake and shake" meal may have just a wee bit too many carbohydrates and sugar in it to do a person any good. Hmmmm? Have you thought about that with that big scientific brain of yours?

Saturated fat is NOT the great nutritional enemy that you want people to believe it to be, Dr. Nicholls. The body NEEDS the fat that comes from consuming beef, pork, lard, poultry fat, butter, cheeses, coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter, among other sources. Plus, these foods taste so much better than those fake soy versions that are actually bad for your health.

One interesting side note is who funded Dr. Nicholls' study through their Young Investigator Award: Pfizer! For those of you playing at home, that would be the SAME company that makes and markets the top-selling cholesterol-lowering medicine Lipitor and the new inhaled insulin set to release soon. Don't you know Pfizer doesn't want people to know how HEALTHY eating saturated fat can be for them because it could help them come off those expensive medicines they are on. Oh, we can't have that now, can we?!

8-16-06 UPDATE: I was so hoping Dr. Mike Eades would respond to this ridiculous saturated fat study. He does so in his usual irreverent-but-right-on style! And just in case you missed it, here's Anthony Colpo's take on the study as well. When idiotic research like this comes out, it's good to know there are a FEW people who are still willing to speak the truth.


Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Ah, Pfizer... well that explains it all - this so-called "study". This is a great example of bad science, and a complete mockery. Great post, Jimmy. And I also loved Anthony's remarks!

8/09/2006 9:08 AM  
Blogger Kevin Dill said...

Well, you have to look at the context of the study. The answers you get depend on the questions you ask. IS saturated fat in the presence of a high sugar content going to do bad things to your arteries? Why yes it will. It is well documented that SFA in a high carb diet increases insulin resistance vs UnSFA. The real question we should be asking is do I eat a high sugar diet and does this data apply to me? For the Low Carb community there is not much here to look at, but for folks on the SAD, there are real issues here that need to be considered.


8/09/2006 9:19 AM  
Blogger Bella and Blessing said...

Thank you, Kevin; I had forgotten that factor!
-Bella and Blessing at

8/09/2006 12:20 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Combined with the SAD-CRAP (Standard American Diet-Cereals Refined And Processed) diet, yes, there certainly is a significant risk - but that's probably more due to the detrimental effects of the anti-nutrient sugar and the resulting insulin sequelae. For example, it is also well-documented that in the presence of dietary trans-fatty acids a minimal intake of MCFA's like virgin coconut oil significantly improves the lipid profile by, for example, reducing inflammatory markers. So MCFA's like this improve things even if really bad (engineered) fats like transfats and carbs are ingested.

But indeed, it's of course much better to steer completely clear of transfats and empty carbs, and adopt a healthy LC or even ketogenic diet - combined with adequate intake of saturates.

Saturates are extremely important for all kinds of stabilization processes, and act as very effective cancer inhibitors - even in a non-LC diet. How much total saturated fat do we need? Already during the 1970s, researchers in Canada determined that on the basis of their own and other research the diet should contain at least 25 percent of fat as saturated fat. Among the food fats that they tested, the one found to have the best proportion of saturated fat was lard, the very fat we are told to avoid under all circumstances! Other important sources of saturates are coconut oil, palm oil and dairy fats.

These are some of the complex but vital reasons we need to include palm oil, coconut oil, butter and lard in our diets in generous quantities.

8/09/2006 2:35 PM  

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