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Saturated Fats and Heart Disease Not Linked? Think Again

The public view of saturated fats and heart disease is rapidly changing, thanks to paleo bloggers and the media that have been riding the wave of attention of a few new studies on the link between cholesterol, saturated fats and heart disease.

From Chris Kresser's Website
From Chris Kresser’s Website

For example, if I type in “saturated fats and heart disease” in Google, I get a number of provocative titles by various authors, in addition to medical research:

  • New Scientific Analysis Confirms Saturated Fats Have No Link to Heart Disease (Mercola)
  • Confused About Fat and Heart Disease? This Study Explains Why (Time Magazine
  • New study puts final nail in the “saturated fat causes heart disease” coffin (Chris Kresser)

What all of these articles are referring are a few meta-analysis observational studies where no link was found between heart disease and saturated fats, going against the current wisdom.

For example, a 2009 study stated:

A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.1

So what should we think of it?

It seems the public has responded with enthusiasm to this confusion by eating bacon and butter with the same reckless abandon.

The video below by Dr. Michael Greger explains why there is confusion.

The video gets a little complicated but it is 100% worth the watch. In summary:

  • Hundreds of studies have been done to without a doubt prove that saturated fat intake is the leading cause of increase in LDL “bad” cholesterol. These studies were done in a laboratory setting where the scientists had 100% control over the diet prescribed to people. Randomized control trials have also confirmed this.
  • Observational (epidemiological studies) CANT find this link because of highly variable factors in individuals that are difficult to spot in these studies.
  • Control-feeding experiments are different and PROVE that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels.
  • Observational studies don’t have the POWER to prove such a correlation.

The paleo community has embraced these new observational studies (funded by the meat industry) because they prove their point. However, they completely ignore the overwhelming body of evidence that implicates the role of saturated fat in heart disease.

It proves again that “people love to hear good news about their bad habits.”

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.