We have been told for decades that saturated fats are very harmful to our health. The reason why we are told this is because of a theory presented in the 1950’s, by Dr. Ancel Keys. He based his theory off a Seven Country Study he conducted that “proved” the more saturated fats a population consumes the higher the rate of Coronary Heart Disease(CHD) and cardiovascular mortality become . However, he conveniently ignored data (that was present at the time) from other countries that also had high level of saturated fat consumption, but did not show the same correlation of high CHD or cardiovascular mortality.
This practice of excluding data that doesn’t fit with your theory or desired outcome, has become pretty common place in today’s world because of what I call “corporate” science. I haven’t looked into if Dr. Ancel had any financial conflicts of interest, so I won’t say he decided to omit the data for financial reasons like “corporate” science does. None-the-less, he did omit very important data that would completely change the findings. His flawed study was then used to vastly change the thinking on what a healthy diet should consist of. Specifically, it vilified saturated fats that were traditional staples in diets around the world and lead to the acceptance and use of manmade partially hydrogenated oil (trans-fats).
Had Dr. Ancel been scientifically honest and presented the available data from the other countries, showing high levels of saturated fat but low levels of coronary heart disease, his finding would have been drastically different. The more recent studies are also showing this difference and in doing so, are debunking Dr. Ancel’s theory.
More recent studies
- A study called “Coconut oil consumption and coronary heart disease” found: “All available population studies show that dietary coconut oil does not lead to high serum cholesterol nor to high coronary heart disease mortality or morbidity rate…” (Coconut oil consists of about 85% saturated fats)
- A study on the diets of two Polynesian populations, called the Pukapuka’s and the Tokelau’s , found that despite the diet consisting of mainly saturated fats, vascular disease is uncommon in both populations and there is no evidence of the high saturated fat intake having a harmful effect in these populations
- A 2010 meta-analysis of 21 prospective epidemiologic studies that looked into the association of saturated fat with the elevated risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and cardiovascular disease. These studies involved a total of just over 350,000 people with a length ranging from 7 to 21. It found no increased risk of CHD or stroke with increased levels of saturated fats.
There has been a six decade long propaganda-sequel campaign to show saturated fats in a bad light. So much so, that many are afraid to eat this food packed with many nutrients that have pretty amazing health benefits. I, for one, think enough is enough and we need to restore saturated fat back to the status of being a healthy food source.