Eating foods that are high in saturated fats has always been discouraged by the nutritionists and health experts. It is a decades-old belief that saturated fat is a leading cause of heart woes and other related cardiovascular diseases.
Food products that are high in fats like red meat and dairy products including butter and cheese are considered as a big no no for health conscious people.
But a new book “The Big Fat Surprise” has trashed all the prior claims and age-old beliefs about these foods products.
Nina Teicholz, the investigative reporter of the book, has said that saturated fat may not be as bad as everyone thinks.
“When the dietary recommendations came out in 1961 saying that saturated fat causes heart disease, that was based on total cholesterol. But our understanding of heart disease has evolved enormously,” Teicholz said.
In her new book, Teicholz writes, “The low-fat, fruit- and vegetable-filled diet that you thought was healthy doesn’t have all the benefits it claims.”
Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, has cautioned the readers from making the final verdict on the submissions made by Teicholz.
Apparently expressing his disagreement with Teicholz’s findings, Willett said that the heart disease is linked with the levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol and it is an established fact that saturated fat raises unhealthy LDL levels in the blood.
According to Willet, there are many well researched and in-depth studies carried in past that have blacklisted saturated fats, considering them unhealthy.
“The idea that saturated fats are not all that bad is “only sort of a half a truth,” Willet said.
The investigative reporter Teicholz has claimed that the idea that heart disease are associated with saturated fats is planted by Dr. Ancel Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota.
“Saturated fat has been the dietary culprit of the past 50, 60 years. It really goes back to the 1950s when America was in the throes of the heart disease epidemic, which had risen out of nowhere to become the nation’s No. 1 killer. President Eisenhower himself had a heart attack in 1955,” said Teicholz.
According to her, it was Keys’s landmark “Seven Countries” study that examined the correlation between cholesterol and heart disease in nearly 13,000 men.
Teicholz claims that the findings of Keys were given priority above all researches and become the basis for the nutritional guidelines that we have today.
“There were other ideas at the time, but Ancel Keys got that idea and planted it into the American Heart Association… and it’s like, the rest is really history from there,” Teicholz said. “It had never been tested.”
She says Keys cherry-picked the seven countries he visited, including the United States, the Netherlands, Finland, Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece and Japan, and left countries well known for their rich fatty foods but without high rates of heart disease like Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany.
According to the researchers, cardiovascular disease remains the single leading cause of death and disability worldwide. It was responsible for more than 17 million deaths globally in 2008.
Researchers say it is important to have appropriate prevention guidelines that should be certified by scientific evidences.