Review shows saturated fat is neutral with regard to health

No evidence that the fat in these foods is harmful.

No evidence that the fat in these foods is harmful.

Is butter bad for you? What about other saturated fats? Probably not.

According to a recent review of a large number of observational studies, only trans fats are associated with heart disease. No other type of fat – including saturated – showed any link to heart disease:

The results showed that people who eat a lot of butter or other saturated fats don’t get heart disease more frequently than people who avoid foods containing saturated fat.

This study confirms previous studies that show that saturated fat is neutral when it comes to your health. Government guidance and health warnings against eating butter and other foods that contain saturated fat can’t be supported by the balance of the evidence.

Is it time for this guidance to end?


Heart Doctor: Time to Bust the Myth about Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

The Real Association Between Butter and Heart Disease in Sweden

“I Was Wrong, You Were Right”

Death of the Low-Fat Diet


  1. charles grashow

    1) It's important to keep in mind that this meta-analysis only looked at heart disease. I think saturated fat's role in heart disease has been exaggerated and misunderstood, but we also can't forget that most foods high in saturated fat are problematic for other reasons (i.e.: processed meats increase colorectal cancer risk, most foods high in saturated fat do not contribute fiber to the diet, the role that L-carnitine, a compound in red meat, plays in promotion of heart disease, etc.)

    2) This study still does not discount the fact that monounsaturated fats (almonds, pecans, olives, avocados) confer many health benefits.

    3) As long as we have this dichotomy of "saturated vs. unsaturated" fats, we'll always have this battle. In reality, we need to start having a "processed vs. unprocessed" fat conversation. "Unsaturated" fats include everything from the fat in avocados (great!) to the fat Doritos are fried in (not good).

    4) Too often, these studies end up inaccurately translated as "saturated fat isn't as harmful as we once thought! Pile on the bacon!" To me, what this study confirms is what I tell my clients often: "it's fine if you want to cook your vegetables in a little butter to give them flavor, but the focus should be on eating a hearty amount of vegetables, not drowning three broccoli florets in a ton of butter because butter has been given the supposed green light."

    5) Remember that whole, plant-based foods contain many compounds (minerals, phytonutrients) that are great for heart health.

    Reply: #13
  2. LCHF_Graham
    The pro-fat low carb revolution is coming. I hope all of the low fat and healthy 'whole grains' charlatans are drummed out of the realm of public health ASAP. They (Ancel Keys and his latter day followers) have done enormous damage to public well-being. And in the process they have acted - either unwittingly (or otherwise if one is more realistic/cynical) - as shills for the very worst elements of the food industry.
  3. LCHF_Graham
    "Counter-intuitive though it might seem, there's no evidence that fat is fattening. . . So why has the public health establishment so assiduously encouraged us to shun it?

    Viewed charitably, public health advice is just like any other socially constructed wisdom in that it gains authority through endless repetition. And who can blame GPs and other well-intentioned purveyors of health guidance up and down the land, if they recycle and disseminate uncritically tablets of nutritional wisdom dispensed from above?

    Viewed cynically, however, it would be naive not to notice how the anti-sat-fat message has been used effectively by food manufacturers and processors to woo us away from whole, natural foods, such as butter, which is only minimally processed, on to their products, which are entirely the opposite, such as margarine.

    For decades now, processed food companies have been using low-fat labels to give a halo of health to their industrially manufactured, nutritionally compromised, food constructions; everything from low-calorie yoghurt and pizza, to breakfast cereals and ready meals. The motto has been, if you want to sell crap, make sure it's low-fat crap, because few people will look beyond the low-fat label to scrutinise the product's composition.

    Read the full article at

  4. Mark Jan
    "...but the focus should be on eating a hearty amount of vegetables, not drowning three broccoli florets in a ton of butter because butter has been given the supposed green light."

    I think if you wanted to drown three broccoli florets in a ton of grass fed butter I don't think it would do you any harm at all, quite the opposite in fact as long as you follow a LCHF lifestyle.

    Reply: #5
  5. Paul the rat
    "...I think if you wanted to drown three broccoli florets in a ton of grass fed butter …"

    I do exactly that (plus some coconut oil and chopped oregano) for many years. broccoli/oregano : fat - 1:1.5 ratio.

  6. bill
    As someone else said: I eat vegetables mostly as a
    delivery system for butter.
  7. Johnny D
    My diabetes magazine just reported that it fat caused belly fat...I have canceled my subscription.:) I suspect that they are still in bed with the pharmaceutical industry.
  8. Eddie Mitchell
    I like Charles Grashow, I am going to eat him last. He spends most of his miserable life sucking up to Evie on the Carbsane blog, she of the permanently morbidly obese. Kicking everyone from Jimmy to Zoe Harcombe. What a class act. Charles your therapy is going nowhere, give it up lad.


  9. tz
    Broccoli doesn't breathe so I can't drown them in butter. Yet something that is part sautee, part stir-fry, part steaming in lots of butter is one of my favorite ways of eating vegetables.

    But I'm interested in a related question - Margerine specifically but also those other fats produced in chemical labs (I would not eat margerine - it never tasted right, but I've always loved butter, now if only there were more things I could saturate to replace bread...).

    For that matter, I don't think carbs per se are poison, we like "sweet" things, and are designed to handle glucose, but we were never intended to have the majority of our calories day after day, month after month from carbs. At best, maybe binge the grains and fruits in the fall, and burn it off during the winter. But in any case carbs aren't necessary.

  10. Eric Anderson
    WHere have all the vegans gone?
    omega 6 and LDL!

    You can not unring the bell
    Diet studies will tell the Tale!

  11. PatrickP
    Great information.
  12. Michelle
    I know you shouldn't crow over those who still bang the drum of low fat and 'healthy' grains, but I am :)
  13. murray
    Alas, poor Jane Brody. As per the great line in National Lampoon, the health oligarchs must be saying to her, "You f***-ed up, you trusted us."

    1) LCHF does even better with other diseases of nutrition. Yes, hot dogs are bad. What has that got to do with butter. That sort of correlation=causation thinking is what launched Ancel Keyes and the Death Pyramid. (I think you mean methionine in muscle meat, not L-carnitine. People successfully supplement L-carnitine for mitochondrial enhancement. Eat head-to-tail to get glycine to balance the methionine and eating fresh meat is not an issue. Osso buco is health food. The Italians are geniuses.)

    2) Of course monounsaturated fats have benefits. Plenty of it in LCHF. My heuristic guideline is to have the same ratio of fats as stored body fat, so generally about half and half butter and olive oil. Pecans have too much sugar and pecans and almonds have too omega-6 to eat regularly. Eat hazelnuts, brazil nuts and macadamia nuts.

    3) Since when have unprocessed fats been recognized as good? There is a reason this study is "news". This reminds me of the various thinkers who point out that a new discovery starts by being ignored, then ridiculed, then deemed unimportant, then controversial, then obvious and what they have been saying all along.

    4) Non-starchy vegetables are great and are heavily promoted here. I love asparagus, for example, especially with an equal portion of Hollandaise sauce. The French are geniuses.

    5) Yes plants have nutrients good for heart and vascular health. Eating non-starchy vegetables is heavily promoted here. I eat celery or spinach most days, for example, to have plenty of dietary nitrates to stimulate nitrous oxide for endothelial health. But why is Co-enzyme Q10 seen as good for heart health? Because it helps mitochondria in the heart muscles (as do tocotrienols, L-carnitine and ketones). And what are excellent sources of nutrients for mitochondria?--organ meats, because they have such high density of mitochondria, being vital organs.

  14. Bill UK
  15. Septeus7
    I know I shouldn't waste my time arguing with a veggie with a highly damage nervous system due to high carb consumption like Charles but here goes:

    Quote from Charles: ") It's important to keep in mind that this meta-analysis only looked at heart disease. I think saturated fat's role in heart disease has been exaggerated and misunderstood, but we also can't forget that most foods high in saturated fat are problematic for other reasons (i.e.: processed meats increase colorectal cancer risk, most foods high in saturated fat do not contribute fiber to the diet, the role that L-carnitine, a compound in red meat, plays in promotion of heart disease, etc.)

    Okay we have a logic problem here i.e. the study and issue is saturated fat but Charles says high consumption is a problem due to L-carnitine which is created from proteins. What does this have to with saturated fat? Nothing.

    He says that high saturated fatty food lack fiber. So what? People will naturally pair it with fiber to make a meal. Is Charles suggesting that monoeating is the only healthy kind of meal? The point is irrelevant.

    Third, since when is fiber a necessary nutrient? Is there any evidence putting high carb high fiber diet versus a "zero" carb ketogenic zero fiber diet? No. There has never been a single study of fiber versus no fiber or carbs at all. NOT A SINGLE STUDY! So Charles has no basis whatsoever to claim that fiber is necessarily beneficial. That is the science or lack thereof period.

    Quote: "2) This study still does not discount the fact that monounsaturated fats (almonds, pecans, olives, avocados) confer many health benefits."

    1. Most of the fat in meat is monounsaturated.

    2. Nuts and Tropical Oils fruits contain many fiberous irritants, goitergenic compounds, and PUFAs which confer create an rather large antinutrient load and increase glycation. Sorry, but the supposed benefits of these cultigens cannot be a good argument for their replacement of the natural human diet's source of monounsaturates i.e. animals consider animals don't have those drawbacks.

    Quote: " As long as we have this dichotomy of "saturated vs. unsaturated" fats, we'll always have this battle. In reality, we need to start having a "processed vs. unprocessed" fat conversation. "Unsaturated" fats include everything from the fat in avocados (great!) to the fat Doritos are fried in (not good)"

    No, we need start having a conservation about rancidity of plant oils and stability of animal fat compounds.

    The reason avocados are great is because evolutionarily those plants are mimicking the fat profile of the animals of the area but they still want to kill you cause they are plants and they are not your friends. In terms of evolution the human to plant relationship is like Plant=Toxin Factory so humans used plants for hormedic effect aka as medicine until a great lack of animal foods (megafauna die off) forced some of us human into a plant breeding program to reduce the number of toxins so that these new "artificially cultivated" plants had their antinutrient and toxic load reduced enough to to be barely nutritional positive over starving and thus the creation of agriculture,slavery, overpopulation, etc.... all in service of the "culture" of the cultigens.

    I could talk about the plant based "cults" err cultures...but we don't have all day. Plants are not natural human food but they can be powerfully therapeutic if used correctly in small amounts. Plants are the smartest and meanest creatures on earth but the stupid humans are to egocentric to "think" like a plant does.

    Quote: " 5) Remember that whole, plant-based foods contain many compounds (minerals, phytonutrients) that are great for heart health."

    All of which are inhibited by the antinutrient toxin load like chelated compounds, phytic acid, trypsin inhibitor, lectin, oxalate, tannins, etc... which means that the absortion factor reduces the the available nutrient concentration to something that is far below almost all animal foods. Unless you know exactly how to prepare a plant-based "food" via fermentation, cooking and pairing with the right animal fats, know the right time to eat them i.e. backloading etc... you aren't doing yourself any good eating pounds and pounds of plants which is only way to get the calories you need to survive from plants alone.

    It's so much easier to just go meat-based keto and use a small to moderate amound of plants for extra flavor.

    Todays plants are not natural human foods. They are cultigens which are far from "natural" and it is the plant-based human cultures of agriculture to overproduce plants that what has created the cruelty toward towards animals by driving them off their natural grazing and hunting lands, imprisoning in dense urban compounds, and forcing to them to live on unnatural plant based diets.

    Plant Based Cultures are the first human CAFOs that treat the plant sicken humanity like the grain sicken cattle we eat because we believe that suppose to grow plants and eat them and we keep doing until all the top soil is destroyed and the civilization collapses.

    The more plant-based a society gets the faster it dies just like the more carbs you eat the faster your proteins glycate, deteriorate your myelin sheaths your NS, age you and make you mentally crazy like Charles and Carb Insane.

    Replies: #19, #26, #28
  16. Bill UK
    Can you imagine the conversation, within the BHF, when this research, they funded, was presented internally.
  17. Nicolas B.
    And so,what should be done to avoid heart disease? Is half an hour walking per day sufficient to reduce risks?
  18. Megan
    Someone from the British Heart Foundation was interviewed on the BBC regarding this. he admitted that sat fat had nothing to do with heart disease - but pointed out that being overweight was implicated in heart attacks and fat makes you fat - therefore it was still a sensible idea to restrict the amount of fat in the diet...

    There was not one word about how you should eat fat - ie not with carbs. carbs are never mentioned when it comes to heart disease - but if it isn't fat causing it, what is?

  19. charles grashow
    "a veggie with a highly damage nervous system due to high carb consumption like Charles"

    I'm as far from a veggie as one could be since I eat raw grass fed ground beef, raw goat milk, goat milk yogurt/kefir and pastured eggs!

  20. Jeffry Gerber, MD
    Can you update your science page: with each new study? How about a page with the weak science refuting LCHF? Thanks. Jeff Gerber, MD
  21. Bill UK
    I get so frustrated when people say fat makes you fat. If fat made us fat then I would be the size of a house and I wasn't far from being the size of a house before I started LCHF.
  22. Butsch
  23. Mauricio Trambaioli
    One more nice study in addition to the previous 4 studies in the 2009's and 2010's.

    Just an obvious caution with processed fat/food due to the presence of added preservatives (such as nitrite and so on) pretty common on bacon, sausages, even some brands of lard ...
    - Mauricio Trambaioli (

    Reply: #25
  24. justmeint
    That Public Relations Doctor that meets the media for the Australian Heart Foundation was on the television again last night telling people this scientific study was a load of rubbish because it took one nutrient in isolation and tried to made a case for it! He said saturated fat lays down cholesterol which blocks arteries and kills people - end of story and that they (the Ozzy HF) would in no way be changing its recommendations based on this most incorrect study PERIOD!

    Personally I believe he has his head where the sun does not shine, and must be in receipt of large sums of something from someone who are terrified of loosing market share. His credibly is zero and his statements are totally worthless to any who are studying the science on this matter.

    He shows clearly what a mouthpiece for the pharmaceutical and grain industries looks like. NOT VERY PRETTY!

  25. bill

    ...and where are the studies showing that "nitrite and so on"
    are bad?

    Here's a link busting that myth:

    More nitrites in your saliva than in anything you might eat.

    Cut out the fear mongering.

  26. François
    Septeus7, though I was rather hard on Charles myself, I am getting the feeling that he really wants to understand but has a very hard time to get rid of the old paradigm. I myself will try to be a little nicer and less caustic in my remarks. By the way, most physicians, who should know better, still believe in the old paradigm. Strangely, the multitude of studies and meta-analyses proving that saturated fat is harmless seem invisible to physicians. (I personally think most of my colleagues do not give a rat's ass about nutrition and would rather prescribe pills and move on to the next patient because this is the way Big Pharma and Big Food, which have taken on the role of medical and dietitian education providers at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, have trained them). Sad but unfortunately true. Continuing with a preconceived idea is very reasuring and prevents the uncertainties of thinking for oneself.

    This being said, here is what I digged about fiber, that "essential non-nutrient"
    Most people are not aware of it, but the fact that fibers are essential for health is only a hypothesis. It was an adaptation by Dr Dennis Burkitt, famous for his description of “Burkitts lymphoma” of an earlier hypothesis by Dr Peter Cleave, called the Saccharine Disease hypothesis, in which Cleave (exactly like Dr John Yudkin had done) stated that chronic disease was caused by excessive sugar in the diet. (
    By switching cause and effect, Burkitt turned Cleave’s hypothesis on its head and managed to reconcile it with Ancel Keys’ saturated fat hypothesis of heart disease. [At that time, if one wanted to survive as a researcher, one had to say like "Master Keys" who would launch personal vicious attacks on anyone challenging his hypothesis as he did with Yudkin in a very disgraceful journal article]. Cleave argued that the addition of sugar was the culprit of chronic disease. Burkitt rather stated that removing fiber from the diet led to constipation and ultimately to chronic disease. This “fiber deficiency” was caused by the removing the fiber during the refining process or by the consuming of carbohydrates when what should have been eaten is unprocessed roughage. This fiber hypothesis was an immediate success upon entering the medical journals and is not even considered a hypothesis anymore by most physicians. It should be.
    “Dr Weston Price, who toured the Sahara with Drs Burkitt and Trowell, noted that all healthy African groups had good sources of animal fat, and that the healthiest groups consumed less, not more, of plant foods; Burkitt and Trowel, however, postulate that the increase in Western diseases among Africans is due to a reduced consumption of plant foods containing dietary fiber. Heart researcher George Mann’s work is conspicuously absent from Burkitt’s Western Diseases. Mann studied the Masai tribes and came to the politically incorrect conclusion that their high fat diet did not predispose them to heart disease.” (
    The fiber hypothesis did not explain the fact that for most of the relationship of man and cereal, cereal was eaten unrefined, yet the same chronic diseases like heart disease, that were basically non-existent before cereal became a staple of humanity were present then as frequently as they are today, as proven by the Horus study (which proved that ancient Egyptians and other Ancient people who ate lots of "fiber-rich cereal", honey and sweet fruits had severe atherosclerosis despite a minimal intake of saturated fat and no smoking).
    Neither could the fiber hypothesis explain the absence of chronic disease in populations whose traditional diets contained predominantly fat, protein and little or no plant foods thus little or no fiber, namely the Masai, the Samburu, the Native American of the Great Plains, the Inuit – and why chronic disease only appeared in these populations with the availability of Western diets.
    Hugh Trowell, who was a missionary physician in Kenya and Uganda since 1929, postulated just like Keys had done, that special ethnic groups like the Inuit “adapted many millennia ago to special diets which in other groups, not adapted to these diets, might induce disease.” This statement (it is not even a hypothesis) was completely disproved by the work of ethnologist Vilhjálmur Stefánsson in Northern Alaska, who demonstrated that every human can thrive on a high fat, high protein and low (or absent) carbohydrate diet. I recommend reading about Stefánsson's northern explorations and about his metabolic lab experience in New York City.

    In summary, fiber is important only if carbs are eaten, as fiber slows the absorption of these carbs in the body. A very low carb diet needs no fiber.

    Reply: #27
  27. Murray
    Thanks Francois. It is consistent with what I have found. Surveying reports of studies over many years, it seems adding fibre to a diet as a supplement does no good, but eating fibrous real food is beneficial. However, as always, the question is beneficial compared to what? Yes, if one is eating a lot of sugar, then it is far better to eat sugar encased in hard to digest plant cells, which slows the release of sugar until later in the gut and allows bacteria to eat much of it, helping blunt nonlinear surges in blood sugar. Of course, that is not an issue for low sugar diets.

    Further, stools are something like 70% dead bacteria and motility is enhanced by bile action stimulated by dietary fat. With Stefansson's work, they found stool action was perfectly normal on a zero plant diet, just not as large. So the dietary fibre obsession is just more crap. The real issue to address is the health of the gut lining and gut flora.

  28. Andrew
    So you're saying we should eat more road kill than I presume! Don't eat too many apples or potatoes but eat more meat? If you want to eat healthy why would you eat something that's dead? Humans are not carnivores not even close. Since giving up meat dairy and refined junk foods I'm in the best health and shape of my life!
    Reply: #29
  29. Francois
    Please, not again this crap of lumping together "meat dairy and refined junk foods". Of course, you'll be better if you stop eating processed junk. You may be lactose intolerant but you could still eat cheese or full fat yogurt. If you are very sick and have an allergy to some milk protein, then only you should consider cutting out dairy products. But on average for the vast majority of people, cheese and full fat yogurt are perfectly fine (who decided on what basis that we could eat the meat of the cow but not the by-product of her milk?)

    But if you have a vegan diet, I strongly suggest you supplement as it is non sustainable: no vitamin B12 and not enough iron and vitamin D, especially if you follow the advice of hiding from the sun for fear of skin cancer.

    Agreed that we humans are not carnivores: we are omnivores and we do eat meat. As far back as there were humans, our species has eaten meat. Whether you like it or not, your teeth are made to cut through meat. Our species also has the same intestinal parasites as the big savanah predators (ie the lions). Our species eats the same prey as the lions do. There has never been in the history of mankind any population that was vegetarian or vegan. There were vegan and vegetarian individuals, but they were few and far between. The proportion may vary, but there is always a component of animal food consumed. it is somewhat of a myth that vegans have a superior health. Some seem to do relatively well, as long as they supplement. Some others just feel miserable and have to quit. But you'll never read about these on vegan web sites. Dissenting ideas are denied access to the blogs.

    Because we do have amylase does not mean we should eat starchy food. Sure, potatoes helped during famines, but these are extreme conditions. Ancient Hawaiians had some plant foods they would eat only if there was nothing else to eat. Potatoes should be just like that.

    And just think for a moment. If, in order to be healthy on a diet, you absolutely need to supplement, how healthy can this diet be? According to my emaciated and abrasive colleague John McDougall, it is very healthy. Yet the same individual stated that drinking coca cola was not unhealthy, but any fat (any) was really creating a mess healthwise. i guess years of low fat have depleted his brain of esential fat and he cannot think straight. Please do not be a troll. Open your mind: just like a parachute, it works better that way (and add a little fat to your diet, it helps).

  30. Septeus7
    Quote from Francois: "Agreed that we humans are not carnivores: we are omnivores and we do eat meat. As far back as there were humans, our species has eaten meat."

    I actually disagree with the idea that humans are true omnivores. The idea of herbivore, omnivore, carnivore are concepts that try to classify the specie based purely on the morphological characteristics and what tropic level from which the specie get its calories.

    In the case of humans, this paradigm is flawed because we as species are defined by behavioral adaptation via technology so any morphological statements don't apply to a species defined technological augmentation. Our teeth retain our insectivore dentation along with both frugivore and carnivore adaptations. Our guts are short like carnivores but we have highly complex mircobiome suitable for some plants. In short, morphology alone tells us nothing.

    Our history and behavior on the other hand tells us that are in a category that I call "technologically facultative carnivores." Almost of the tools we use and create for our food economy during most of the paleolithic is for hunting and processing animals not plants. Also, given the fact that 75% human existence is during glaciation periods plant ingestion would be minimal. I say that the only reason we don't have carnivore morphology is that we used tools to catch and process our meat made such adaptations moot and that our diets based on calorie distribution are on the high end of carnivore spectrum.

    I don't believe that my position will ever be accepted by the academics because they are institutionally part of civilization which is based on the idea that humans must be omnivores. The idea that we are meant to eat essentially only meat can never be politically acceptable for it would challenge all existing economic and social relations of civilization.

    I could go on about history of vegitarianism and dietary taboos to prove the point that consumption of vegitation is forced upon the population (try to get your kids to naturally like veggies) in order maintain an artificial economy and social power structure and the irony is that the more we rely on plants the more ecological problems and population explosions we have but all one has to do to refute all idea of "omnivore" species is ask yourself why does China have 1.5 billion people and Mongolia has a natural stable population with the lowest density?

    I'm seriously considering writing a book called "The Mongolia Paradox: Why the existence of Mongolia challenges just about everything we think we know said about diet, health, civilization and humanity."

    No one in the scientific community pays attention to the ketogenic versus glycolytic metabolism effects on female fertility and epigenetics and hence population density because most scientists can't consider the question what if we are actually carnivores who choose to try and become herbivores i.e. change our tropic level? What would happen?

    They can't ask this question because animals don't change tropic levels and if humans do...what does that mean for the identity of human beings?

    So while the science supporting HFLC will continue to build in the lab don't be optimistic about the institution change because they fundamentally can't on this issue.

  31. Robert
    "Following a high fat diet like Atkins or LCHF increases the risk of the most common form of breast cancer by more than a fifth, research has found...........Scientists who studied data on 10,000 patients found an association between fat consumption and breast cancer in these women............The findings, from the Epic breast cancer study involving more than 300,000 women in 10 European countries, are reported in the Journal Of The National Cancer Institute."

    The above is from the Daily Mail ( I think most people haven´t a clue what to believe - and what not to believe. I´m waiting for the latest results from research on a million people in Lithuania - "Scientists Discover That Fruit and Vegetables are Lethal!"

  32. Christoph Dollis

    If you want to be taken seriously as a “nutrition expert” you’d better keep updated. It’s not good enough to continue spreading ideas from the 80′s about fat, ideas that have long since been refuted.

    Damn straight.

  33. Michael
    Interesting to note that the healthiest, happiest, longest living people on the planet eat whole grains and vegetables and no saturated fat. I'll trust in the habits of traditional people living today as opposed to the scientific mumbo-jumbo presented here.
  34. erdoke

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