ACC Journal review reveals decades-old studies of saturated fats are not related to heart disease

How could three randomized, controlled human studies fall by the wayside after nearly 55 years?

The question isn’t how could this be done but rather by who. Who stepped up to gain from the studies being ignored for decades? What were the effects to the general public? Why was the evidence ignored by the medical industry?

What if you were to learn that eating cholesterol does not raise your cholesterol?

Earlier this week the Journal of the American College of Cardiology released its review of Saturated Fats and Health: A Reassessment and Proposal for Food-based Recommendations: JACC State-of-the-Art Review (https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0735109720356874?token=1EE9EFE447AD3C22A8E0168CF66BFEE1239A9BA017972DF963C6E2A1110204ABD4062231E0F8BAAB8FA1C13816B758FC).

The review from Drs. Arne Astrup, Magkos Faidon, Dennis M. Bier, et.al, revealed the governmental recommendation of limiting saturated fats (animal fats) in the human diet is contrary to evidence based on human trials conducted in the 1960s-70s.

In the abstract, the “most recent meta-analyses of randomized trials and observational studies found no beneficial effects of reducing saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality, and instead found protective effects against stroke,” the review stated.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Eating SFAs is beneficial to your heart. It does not cause heart disease.

Saturated fatty acids include foods such as salmon, meat, whole eggs, bacon and dark chocolate (no sugar). 

Since the 1980s, US dietary goals have been recommended to limit SFA to less than 10 percent of total calories as a way to reduce cardiovascular disease, the journal review said.

This, despite the thousands of years humans have been digesting meat on a daily basis across the world with little to no risk of heart disease until the age of processed foods (grains, sugar and industrial seed oils) took hold of our industrialized food sources.

The US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services will be releasing its 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and in 2018 posed the question: “what is the relationship between saturated fat consumption (types and amounts) and risk of CVD in adults?,” as stated in the JACC review.

Three human trials, the Sidney Diet Heart Study, Minnesota Coronary Experiment and Corn Oil in Treatment of Ischemic Heart Disease, were published from 1965-69, were reviewed by the JACC and brought to light.

The Sidney study (https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e8707) was conducted from 1966-73 at the coronary care clinic in Sydney, Australia, and cited in the British Medical Journal (2013). The participants were 458 men, ages 30-59, with a recent coronary event. Its goal was to evaluate the effectiveness of replacing dietary saturated fat (lowering the intake of meat, etc.) and replacing it with omega-6 linoleic acid as a secondary prevention of heart disease and death.

In other words, participants had their natural, human diets replaced with safflower oil and safflower oil polyunsaturated margarine (processed industrial seed oils).

The study had both a controlled group and an uncontrolled group (limits of dietary SFAs were not replaced with oils). The study proved the controlled group succumbed to higher death rates, by as much as 17.6 percent and an increase in CVD by a whopping 17.2 percent, then the uncontrolled group.

The study concluded the advice to substitute the naturally-occurring SFAs found in the thousands-year-old human diet for omega-6 linoleic acid (processed vegetable oils) showed no clinical benefits. In fact, the substitution increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease, and “the findings could have important implications for worldwide dietary advice to substitute omega-6 linoleic acid, or polyunsaturated fats in general, for saturated fats,” the BMJ stated. 

The Minnesota Coronary Experiment was conducted from 1968-73 and was given a second look by the British Medical Journal in its cited research publication “Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73),” Christopher E. Ramsden, Daisy Zamora, Sharon Majchrzak-Hong, et.al.

Ramsden, et.al, examined the previously unpublished data from the MCE, which was the gold-standard of human health studies – a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. The setting for the trial was one nursing home and six mental hospitals in Minnesota and included 9,423 men and women ages 20-97. The trial tested the replacement of saturated fats with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid reduced heart disease and death by lowering serum cholesterol. The oil used was corn and corn oil polyunsaturated margarine. The control diet was high in saturated fat from animal fats, common margarines and shortenings.

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