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Saturated fat is healthy

By David Coory

For years, I've tried to share the proven fact that saturated fats, like cream, butter, lard, cheese, meat fat and coconut oil are healthy and do not cause heart disease as some commonly believed.

Numerous studies over recent years have proved this beyond doubt, and it makes perfect sense – millions have eaten saturated fats for centuries and suffered little or no cardiovascular disease.

Before 1920, when nearly all fats were butter and lard, heart disease was virtually unknown. The International Journal of Medicine reports “At the beginning of the 20th century, CHD (coronary heart disease) was effectively unknown in the UK”. It received no mention in the writings of Sir James MacKenzie, the father of cardiology in the UK, and the 1912 edition of the first textbook of UK medicine states: “Angina is a rare disease in hospitals: a case a month is the average even in the larger metropolitan hospitals”.

Even after the 1920’s a coronary heart attack was such a rare event that Dr. Dudley White, Harvard’s famous cardiologist, remarked that when a case arrived at the local hospital, other doctors were alerted so they could witness this disease first-hand.

Yet, month after month, on popular TV and in print media (even Consumer magazine) we continue to hear or read that saturated fats like butter are to be avoided and are a major cause of heart disease. That we should instead use polyunsaturated vegetable oils and margarine. This is wrong, wrong, wrong!

Polyunsaturated oils linked with severe disorders

What is now painfully clear, is that polyunsaturated vegetable oils are not healthy for us. In fact they are largely responsible for the epidemic of cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and depression that we see all around us.

All the disorders mentioned above were rare when saturated animal fats like butter and lard were a mainstay of our diet. This is because polyunsaturated vegetable (seed) oils are high in omega 6 fats – typically 70%, whereas saturated fats like butter and coconut oil are only about 3% omega 6. When our omega 6 fat intake exceeds our omega 3 intake by more than 4 to 1, it causes inflammation in our body and depresses our immune system. This is because omega 3 fat counteracts the inflaming effect of omega 6. Our average NZ ratio is a dangerous 18 parts omega 6 to one part omega 3.

Interestingly, animal fats in the past contained useful amounts of omega 3, reportedly on par with fish, but nowadays, due to modern farming methods it has dropped markedly. For example, wild kangaroo meat remains typically three times higher in omega 3 than farm-grazed beef. I explain the vitally important roles of the different fats more fully in my "Stay Healthy by supplying what's lacking in your diet" book. Essential information if we are to enjoy a healthy old age.

British Medical Journal warning on seed oils and inflammation

In September 2018 British Medical Journal reports “Numerous lines of evidence show that the omega-6 polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid (ie, omega 6 fat) promotes oxidative stress, oxidised LDL (cholesterol), chronic low-grade inflammation and atherosclerosis and is likely a major dietary culprit for causing CHD (coronary heart disease), especially when consumed in the form of industrial seed oils commonly referred to as ‘vegetable oils”.

Fats not associated with actual heart attacks however

Although inflammation from high omega 6 seed oils is a major cause of many health problems, fatal heart attacks do not seem to be related to fats. (Stress and too much sugar, causing blood clots seem to be the main culprits.) In November 2017 the UK medical journal ‘The Lancet’ reported the results of an 18 nation study of dietary fats which concluded: “Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality”.

High cholesterol life extending

Also proven wrong is the warning that high cholesterol is dangerous – it’s quite the opposite in fact, especially for older people. The Lancet medical journal reported as far back as 1989 “In older people high cholesterol levels give a survival advantage.” Vol. 333 pg. 868-70

Healthy cooking oils

Not all oils are high in omega 6 – olive, coconut and avocado oils are healthy exceptions, all being very low in omega 6 fat. These, along with butter should ideally be used for our cooking, baking and salad dressings. Flaxseed oil is high in omega 3 (four times higher than its omega 6 content).

Why polyunsaturated fats were once recommended

Our current serious health problems due to excessive use of polyunsaturated fats, dates back to the 1950’s when health authorities mistakenly concluded that saturated animal fat caused cardiovascular disease. (They now realise the real reasons are excess sugar, stress, lack of walking and not enough omega 3 fat in our diet.)

With hindsight it’s now clear this recommendation, to avoid saturated fats, was a major mistake. As a result, in America by 1980, three times more omega 6 fat was being eaten. Heart disease however continued to soar until blood thinners were introduced, and although the proportion of men who were smokers dropped from 75% down to 30%, the number of lung cancer deaths soared 60 times higher – other cancers have also skyrocketed.

Hopefully the truth will quickly filter through to our popular media and NZ health will begin to turn around to what it was before the wholesale change from saturated to polyunsaturated fats? Meanwhile, unsuspecting people worldwide continue to succumb to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimers due to this false diet advice. So spread the good word and let us save much suffering.