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Is the tide turning in favor of saturated fat?

Sadly, it’s dangerous to think outside the box. Particularly in the scientific community. If you harbor a view that’s contrary to the whole (even in light of good, sound, scientific evidence), you are demonized, belittled, and shunned.

That’s why when one of the world’s most prominent lipid researchers did an (ahem!) honest review of the observational studies linking dietary intake of saturated fat to heart disease, I take notice. If he can get away with being honest, then surely the tide in scientific thinking must be turning!

Regular readers know that I am a fan of saturated fat, and you often read articles I post in which I challenge the lipid hypothesis — the notion that eating a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol causes heart disease. New readers come on the site and are shocked that someone like me, someone so in favor of “healthy” eating, could possibly defend diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Well now Dr. Ronald Krauss has published a review article titled “Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.”

His conclusion?

A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.

Yay! Chalk one more up for the Truth.

Guys, this is really making me hopeful. The researchers spelling the end of the lipid hypothesis are no longer cutting-edge, but increasingly more mainstream. I hope that in a decade, doctors will look back with horror on the times they advocated cutting saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet. (Much the same way they now balk at blood-letting or smoking cigarettes.)

Thanks to both Stephan at Whole Health Source and Peter at Hyperlipid for pointing out the new article.

(photo by tombothetominator)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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22 Responses to Is the tide turning in favor of saturated fat?
  1. turtleoak
    January 14, 2010 | 4:04 pm

    Is the tide turning in favor of saturated fat? http://tinyurl.com/yfobys6

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. Kim @ the Nourishing Cook
    January 14, 2010 | 6:25 pm

    Yaaahhh!!! great post. I know what it’s like to be ‘shunned’ because of my beliefs about food. I am also ‘chubby’ so people take one look at me and are like ‘why should I do what you say?’. Little do they know, I used to be much bigger! :) thanks for your post, keep up the good work…
    .-= Kim @ the Nourishing Cook´s last blog post …Soaked Pancakes – not as soggy as they sound! =-.

    • KristenM
      January 14, 2010 | 8:59 pm

      Congrats on the weight loss. No doubt a healthy dose of saturated fat had a lot to do with it!

  3. Peggy
    January 14, 2010 | 7:10 pm

    Great news! I’m gonna celebrate with a hunk of butter!
    .-= Peggy´s last blog post …Real Food Face-Off =-.

    • KristenM
      January 14, 2010 | 9:01 pm

      Butter… I’m imagining eating some artichokes drowning in butter right about now.

  4. Anna
    January 14, 2010 | 8:24 pm

    Pass the hot bacon salad dressing, please!

    • KristenM
      January 14, 2010 | 9:03 pm

      Oh I need a good recipe for that! The kind with apple?

      Right now I make a hot bacon dressing by mixing my hot bacon grease with my homemade mayo, and it’s killer. But I’ve always wanted to experiment with the German kind made with apples.

  5. Diana@Spain in Iowa
    January 15, 2010 | 12:33 pm

    Bacon fat mayonnaise, yumm!! Thanks for this post Kristen, I’ve been learning so much about animal fats and how we need them in our diet! You can now find pork lard, tallow, and tons of butter in my fridge and freezer! From local pastured animals of course :D
    .-= Diana@Spain in Iowa´s last blog post …Freezer Meal Bee (Gathering) =-.

  6. Jenn
    January 16, 2010 | 2:45 pm

    I just bought a big hunk of pastured beef suet to render this week! The farmer I buy my beef from said he started packing it to sell because people kept asking about it (including me!). I’m all stocked up for the next couple of months with roasts, livers, ribs, and bones!
    .-= Jenn´s last blog post …Race! Larry Noel 12k =-.

  7. Musings of a Housewife
    January 18, 2010 | 11:09 am

    I’ve been waiting for this information to go mainstream. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Musings of a Housewife´s last blog post …It always has a way of sucking me back in. =-.

  8. dcrmom
    January 18, 2010 | 11:16 am

    What if saturated fat is GOOD for you? http://is.gd/6wxNq #passthebutter

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  9. Kelly E.
    January 18, 2010 | 12:46 pm

    Thanks for this post! My husband had a reaction to an antibiotic and now has CHF. It’s been SO HARD to deal with all of the “low fat and low cholesterol” diets they are trying to cram down his throat. They want people to be skinny but can’t figure out why they remain SICK with poor immune systems?
    .-= Kelly E. ´s last blog post …How to find nourishing foods for your family using WIC and SNAP/EBT ( Food Stamps) =-.

  10. Katie
    January 18, 2010 | 3:37 pm

    Kristen,
    The results of this study didn’t really make a difference to my personal diet – I’ll enjoy my butter and farm-fresh milk no matter what! However, I was a little concerned that the National Dairy Council financially backed the study. Do you think the results are valid, given the Council’s involvement? I am not really sure what the implications of this study would be for them, but I am highly suspicious of *anything* they are behind. They have worked so hard to make it very difficult for many to get raw milk, and as a traditional foodist, I just don’t trust them.

    • KristenM
      January 18, 2010 | 4:09 pm

      Katie — The great thing about this “study” is that it isn’t one. It’s a review of previously published studies. Other groups have done similar reviews and come to similar conclusions, but the glory of this review is that it was done by a mainstream lipid researcher. If he can now say that there’s no evidence linking dietary intake of saturated fat to heart disease (without any fear of doing his career injury), then I think it’s safe to say the tide in scientific thought is finally turning.

  11. Katie
    January 20, 2010 | 2:33 pm

    Thanks for the response Kristen. I agree that it being a meta-analysis is a lot more convincing than just one study.

  12. Richie P
    January 20, 2010 | 4:56 pm

    I did not have a pull up bar available. So I just did the 100 Burpees. 13:41

    This comment was originally posted on CrossFit NYC: The Black Box

  13. freeware firewall
    January 20, 2010 | 6:10 pm

    I really enjoy keeping up with your stories! It truly makes the day.

    This comment was originally posted on CrossFit NYC: The Black Box

  14. Paul
    January 21, 2010 | 7:56 am

    First time back in a few months… did 75 reps.

    12:30.

    This comment was originally posted on CrossFit NYC: The Black Box

  15. Matt D
    January 21, 2010 | 12:49 pm

    13:01 rx’d

    This comment was originally posted on CrossFit NYC: The Black Box

  16. CelluliteFiles
    January 21, 2010 | 2:30 pm

    Is the tide turning in favor of saturated fat? | Food Renegade http://ow.ly/YXDB

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  17. Emily
    February 15, 2010 | 4:13 pm

    I just got back my first cholesterol test after a year of tripling my intake of grass-fed meat, raw goat dairy, and using solid animal fats in cooking. The result? Total cholesterol went up from 157 to 165 (a trivial amount) and my “good” cholesterol went up 10 points (nearly 20%)! No harm there, methinks.
    .-= Emily´s last blog post …New PT workshop outlines – reviews needed! =-.

  18. Elizabeth
    September 13, 2010 | 9:32 pm

    Keep spreading the Good Word, full wonderful saturated FATS impart great taste and does wonders for your HEALTH and figure. Lucky for me I get to teach this concept often at work and I get looks like I’ve just grown horns out of my head. Anyway- I really like the meta analysis review it lends a lot more authority for those of us who work in medicine.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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