Heart doctor: time to bust the myth about saturated fat and heart disease


More and more people are questioning the silly old-fashioned fear of butter. A heart doctor writes in the latest issue of the respected British Medical Journal that it’s time to bust the myth that saturated fat has anything to do with heart disease.

A number of papers report on this and the heart doctor was on British morning TV today (watch).


  1. Peter Clark
    Statins 'could benefit the healthy'


    This report in The Independent (UK national quality daily newspaper) last May refers to a different study, published in The Lancet:

    'They found that every one mmol/L lowering of LDL cholesterol reduced the risk of major vascular events by 21 per cent "irrespective of age, sex, baseline LDL cholesterol or previous vascular disease, and of vascular and all-cause mortality'

    What is a poor lay person such as myself to think? Why should I believe either of these?

    (I am a committed low carber and do not believe in the ‘Cholesterol Hypothesis’)

    Any thoughts welcome,


  2. charles grashow
    From the article you linked to

    "Adopting a Mediterranean diet after a heart attack is almost three times as powerful in reducing mortality as taking a statin. The recently published PREDIMED randomised controlled trial was stopped early after it showed that in high risk people the Mediterranean diet achieved a 30% improvement over a “low fat” diet in terms of cardiovascular events.

    The author references this study

    Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet

    "The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals."

    "Eligible participants were men (55 to 80 years of age) and women (60 to 80 years of age) with no cardiovascular disease at enrollment, who had either type 2 diabetes mellitus or at least three of the following major risk factors: smoking, hypertension, elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, overweight or obesity, or a family history of premature coronary heart disease"

    " Salient components of the Mediterranean diet reportedly associated with better survival include moderate consumption of ethanol (mostly from wine), low consumption of meat and meat products, and high consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, fish, and olive oil."

    How does this study prove that "saturated fat is not a major issue" if the study referenced used a diet that was LOW is consumption of saturated fat but HIGH in MUFA??

  3. Helge
  4. Z.M.
    charles grashow: "How does this study prove that "saturated fat is not a major issue" if the study referenced used a diet that was LOW is consumption of saturated fat but HIGH in MUFA??"

    It does not prove anything about saturated fat (or mufa vs. safa) since all groups had similar saturated fat intakes. It does show that a higher fat diet can be better than a lower fat one.

  5. charles grashow
    @Z.M. " It does show that a higher fat diet can be better than a lower fat one."

    Does it show that a higher SATURATED FAT diet is better or a HIGHER MUFA diet?

  6. Z.M.
    charles grashow: "Does it show that a higher SATURATED FAT diet is better or a HIGHER MUFA diet?"

    Neither, there was no high saturated fat comparison group so no conclusion can be drawn as to which is better. The only trial to directly compare safa to mufa was the Rose Corn Oil trial in which the safa group fared better than both the olive oil and corn oil group. This was not statistically significant but the trend was in favor of the safa group.

  7. Graham_LCHF
    I wonder if Andreas could perhaps post something about the recent changes in Sweden to the official dietary advice (when you have time obviously Doc!).

    If you go to the BBC clip of them discussing the BMJ article (with the author) the 'diet' expert (also on the show) does not even want to engage with the real science. It's just the high crab low-fat dogma.

    What do you call 50 NHS dietitians at the bottom of the North Sea?

    A good start.

    Reply: #13
  8. Graham_LCHF
    High carb not *high crab* lol
  9. Z.M.
    Peter Clark: "Statins 'could benefit the healthy' http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-ne..."

    It is very difficult to find an objective analysis when statin trials are involved. A Canadian group did an analysis (http://www.ti.ubc.ca/letter77) in 2010 which removed sources of potential bias and concluded: "Statins do not have a proven net health benefit in primary prevention populations and thus when used in that setting do not represent good use of scarce health care resources."

  10. eddy
    A basic staple in the Mediterranean diet is bread, what comes to mind for me is Pita Bread.
    Bread has been a major part of the diet in that part of the world for thousands of years. Also in Mediterranean Cooking they use Chick Peas , hummus is an example.

    They also use potatoes , rice , eggplant as well as tomatoes, cucumber and onions. Tomatoes and Potatoes only appeared on the scene a few hundred years ago after they discovered the new world.

  11. PatrickP
    Very funny that the obese "dietician" is scolding the thin doctor.
  12. PaleoDentist
    Great piece! My favorite part was the FAT "dietitian" sticking tho the old low fat dogma! and ignoring the science. And what PatrickP said! I wonder how many people she killed with her advice! I think I may send her a mirror!
  13. Per Wikholm
    Graham, the Swedish dietery guidelines to the general public (based on the new edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations) hasn't changed much att all. Only change is that we are allowed to eat 5 % more MUFA and 5 % less carbs. Recommended carb intake is now 45-60 % of calories, Before it was 40-60 %. Maximun SFA intake ist still 10 %. And our USDA, the Swedish national Food Administration is campaigning to ban schools from serving butter and whole milk.

    The SBU-report on the other hand is indeed revolutionary but restricted to the treatment of obesity in the health care system. It´s states that low carb is better at least in the short term for weight loss, that it has benificial effects on bloodsugar, HDL and triaglycerides. The most revolutionary aspect of this SBU-report is that they say that the scientific base for the warnings against saturated fats is "fragile".

    So we how have two differnt government authorities with very differnts stands on saturated fat. One warning aginst satureted fat, the other basically saying that warning is based on crappy science. We will have to see what comes out in the future of this controvercy. It might at least produce some good Entertainment.

    Reply: #15
  14. Robin Mostacero
    Hi Andreas!
    Very interesting blog of yours. We are a relatively new lifestyle concept from Sweden with two units up and runnning and a third one opening in Gothenburg in January. Im the COO of SPIS&DELI and it would be interesting to meet you along with my fellow friend and associate P-O that is an expert in metabolic typing and holistic lifestyle to just have a meeting about diets and food/lifestyle in general. Our units and menu does not follow any diets but a holistic view of health and happiness. So we have the same fundamental ideas like you but does definitely not believe in diets, this is a interesting clash!
    This is our website http://www.spisdeli.se

    Have a wonderful day!

  15. Graham_LCHF
    Per thanks for that clarification.
  16. ChristinaGVA
    And CNN...

    Cardiologist: Don't demonize fat

    Becky Anderson talks to medical experts about the truth behind the fatty foods we consume

  17. Z.M.
    ChristinaGVA: "Becky Anderson talks to medical experts about the truth behind the fatty foods we consume http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2013/10/23/ctw-f"

    Neil Poulter didn't give even one citation to back up his claims on saturated fat, but instead used the surrogate marker argument that reducing saturated fat lowers cholesterol. Apparently he missed the numerous clinical trials which showed no difference in events despite lowered cholesterol from reducing saturated fat.

    Neil Poulter actually claimed that the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists' (CTT) Collaboration is totally independent of pharma industry. If you take a look at the study he is referring to (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2988224/) it says:

    "Conflicts of interest: Most of the trials in this report were supported by research grants from the pharmaceutical industry. Some members of the writing committee have received reimbursement of costs to participate in scientific meetings from the pharmaceutical industry. AK and JS have also received honoraria from Solvay for lectures related to these studies"

    "Observers: Bristol-Myers Squibb M Mellies, M McGovern, J Barclay, R Belder; Merck Y Mitchel, T Musliner; Laboratoires Fournier J-C Ansquer; Bayer M Llewellyn; Novartis Pharma M Bortolini; AstraZeneca G Brandrup-Wognsen, B Bryzinski, G Olsson, J Pears; Pfizer D DeMicco."

    Neil Poulter himself isn't independent:

    "Dr Poulter has received grants for clinical research from Pfizer and from various ad-hoc pharmaceutical companies, which manufacture lipid-lowering agents. He also received grants for educational activities and was a consultant for those companies (http://www.theheart.org/fr/documents/satellite_programs/spotlight/752795/disclosures/poulter.html).

  18. Jamie Hayes

    Why don't you make the simple point about butter... "It's not the butter that is the problem but what you put the butter on!" Butter on your 2 slices of toast. Butter on your one or two sandwiches. Butter on your scone or muffin. Butter on that bread roll with dinner.

    We often hear 'health experts' warning us against "fatty sugary foods" which totally misleads. As we know, choosing a healthy fat like butter (not margarine or seed oils) is the first step and then choose wisely what you put it on - preferring veggies over wheat.

  19. Thomas
    Making 'simple points' is what the Vocal Vegans do to entertain the confused with binary logic. “Good or bad”, “Right or wrong”, "plant based" and "animal based" and in so doing easily entertain the minds of the simple and confused. Some of the ‘World renowned’ doctors use languages patterns that an educated NLP practitioner will recognise and they convince the simple and confused that vegan is right.
    “Research tells us . . . “ “We have learned . . “ “All oils are toxic . . . . “ “It has been shown . . . .
    To break that open we must stop using their binary terms of reference and talk in terms of “natural fats” “chemically refined oils”, “lipoproteins” and not “cholesterol” “Organic” “Free range”, “Pasture fed”. Where vegans take supplements due to the vitamin deficiencies of their diet, it cannot be naturally healthy by definition.
    The VV label Keto/LCHF/HFLC/Paleo as “meat eaters” and we must correct them that we are omnivores (even Keto) eating a healthy natural diet that does not require any synthetic drugs or potions. Eating only meat, like eating only vegan, can never be a healthy balanced diet.
    Their argument about SFA is the classical binary one. All the various fats are a composition of saturated and unsaturated. For example, Lard is only 45% saturated, 45% mono and 10% poly. Peanut oil is 20% saturated, 47% mono and 33% poly. The only way you can avoid eating saturated fat is to not eat any fat.

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