Tag: cholesterol

The Cholesterol Myth and The Great Global Diet Fraud (4 out of 10)

In case you are wondering about the image choice, cod fish is also high in saturated fat.

So you finished reading the third installment and decided to stick around. Congratulations, you deserve a reward for your healthy skeptic mind. A friend asked “if what I’m saying is true, then why would these people even do it?” Well, very prominent people have received Nobel prizes (and that is a lot of money and prestige) for their “doctored” results, for sure they have some incentives to make sure the story sticks. Not to mention that not many of those doctors educated in the diet-heart myth would be filling to accept that they had spent all their money and effort learning fraudulent knowledge.

And we could also mention big Food and Beverage companies that is taking the fat out of natural products and replace it with sugar and claim its healthy. For example, lets talk about yogurt. They are naturally high in fat, taste good, and because fat oxidizes over time, we call it goes “rancid”, has limited shelf life. Once you take the fat out, it would last longer. Of course without the fat in the yogurt, it would not taste as good, so they dumped some sugar in it and cover the taste. Sugar also acts as a “natural” preservative by the way. Last but not least, you slap it with a “healthy” moniker and charge higher price. So not only would you end up with a product that has unnaturally long shelf life, you could charge a premium on it. This was the scheme 30 years ago. Now everybody is doing it making it virtually impossible to buy natural yogurt anymore or you need to go to a premium supermarket to buy them at premium price.

Last but not least, we have the pharmaceutical companies that are definitely getting richly rewarded for their “life saving” cholesterol lowering drugs.

Now that I have given you a glimpse of the diet-heart conspiracy motivations, allow me to bring you to the next myth:

“Myth 4: Cholesterol Blocks Arteries”

So let me show you the chart progression so far on how this myth relates to the big scheme of the diet-heart myths Dr. Uffe Ravnskov already proven to be false, which are animal fat consumption causes heart disease, high cholesterol causes heart disease, and saturated fat causes cholesterol.

chart2

This myth arose in the 1953, again popularized by Dr. Ancel Keys, the same person that created Myth 3. He simply stated that a major characteristic of sclerotic artery (i.e. the hardening of arterial wall) is the presence of abnormal amounts of cholesterol in the artery. And this cholesterol is derived from the blood.”

Interesting considering that he didn’t give any research or proof to back up this claim. He said so and that’s the end of it. In physics we call this postulate, not law and yet the medical community considers this as a law.

Its even interesting considering that in 1936, Pathologist  Kurt Landé and the biochemist Warren Sperry of the Department of Forensic Medicine at New York University already did a study on relation between blood cholesterol and atheroschlerosis (the medical term for sclerotic artery) with 390 sample sizes and the result was no relation. Further study in Canada by Dr. Paterson and Dr. Derrick in 1957 to proof Dr. Key’s postulate also came up with no correlation. As with even further study in India by Dr. Mathur in 1961 with 200 sample sizes. Sorry folks, this episode’s myth buster is incredibly short. You can read on Advances of Pharmacology volume 2 that as I quote from page 213, “…no strict correlation is found in individual cases when blood lipids are measured post-mortem with atherosclerotic involvement..”.

Yes, you can also argue that perhaps blood cholesterol immediately dropped the moment you died, in which Dr. Mathur already proven is not the case. The blood cholesterol stayed relatively stable for the first 16 hours.

If you want to read further proofs that this myth is not grounded in reality, you should read more from Dr. Ravnskov’s book where he thoroughly debunked the famed Farmingham study Dr. Keys uses to build his conspiracy.

The Cholesterol Myth and The Great Global Diet Fraud (3 out of 10)

Congratulations dear reader for persevering  to the third installment of the series. At this point you might be asking if all that I am writing here is true, then how come most DOCTORS don’t even know about it? Well, the problem is that we are dealing with a very strong and entrenched interest coalition of pharmaceutical and consumer goods companies no different than eight decades ago where smoking was considered “healthy” and it took several decade  worth of long and hard fight by dedicated individuals before we arrived at the present enlightenment stage on smoking.

smoking_01

Doctors aren’t always the best source of medical knowledge

Second point is that most doctors are busy too, such that they would most of the time even rely on pharmaceutical sales people to teach them about the newest medicine. And lets get it straight, reading the raw data of any medical research and applying your own analysis is a lot of work compared to say… just reading the conclusion, which might differ depending on who is making the conclusion.

Last but not least. We are now already at the end of an era where the “Diet Heart” interest group is slowly starting to die. More and more people, even some of the major actors in the healthcare business like LG are starting to move towards the truth that saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease. Even the US dietary guideline is finally starting the acknowledge the importance of saturated fat in our diet. You can read about it via the Harvard publication on latest dietary guideline and CNN version of dietary guideline.

I try my best to present you with links that will give you the original data of the studies mentioned in Dr. Uffe Ravnskov‘s book. This will give you the opportunity to make your own analysis based on data provided by reliable third party such as US National Institute of Health and leading universities. However, as not all these data are available on public domain, hence some would come from reputable sources that does not include the raw data itself.

So, without further ado, we will now move on to the next myth

“Myth 3: High Fat Foods Raise Blood Cholesterol”

Now before we move on, allow me to introduce you to a chart that relates this myth with the previous two myths:

chart1

As I have shown in the first article, there is simply no relation between US animal fat consumption level with deaths from heart disease over the past century. Myth 2 has also been busted on the second article and now we are on to myth 3.

The “Diet Heart” myth is basically joined at the hip with Dr. Ancel Keys credibility. He is the proponent of the seven country study published in 1958 regarding the fat percentage of local diet in various countries vs. the mean serum cholesterol level. The data points fell on a straight line, showing very positive correlation. However, in Dr. Ravsnov’s book, he pointed to other countries Dr. Keys also collected data from but deliberately omitted from the study in which had in included them, would fall very far away from the correlation line. Furthermore, CHD death rates among subjects in Finland, Greece and Yugoslavia with similar serum cholesterol levels varied five fold depending on which area of the country they lived in. I.e. although the people in Finland on average eat the same diet, different areas within Finland would have different average Cholesterol level as if the food doesn’t really matter.

Four studies in the US, one in the UK, one in Israel and one in Finland failed to show any correlation between diet and serum cholesterol levels.

 A different study mentioned in US NIH even showed that if you completely take out the saturated fat from the diet and replace it with carbohydrate, the cholesterol level remained the same. The study was done at Maastricht University in Netherlands, published in 2003 focusing on effects of dietary fat and carb consumption on your blood HDL, cholesterol and serum lipids. While yet another study showing no correlation between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease. This study was done at Oakland Research Institute in California regarding the association of saturated fat with heart disease, published in 2010. In the book, Dr. Ravsnov tried to eat various number of eggs per day (from 0 to 8) and found no direct correlation with his cholesterol level and one study even had an 88 year old patient eating 25 eggs a day with no effect on his cholesterol level. This study was done by Dr. Fred Kern from University of Colorado School of Medicine published by New England Journal of Medicine in 1991. Need more research to convince you? I suggest you read this blog from Stephan Guyenet, an obesity researcher and neurobilologist, PhD from University of Washington. Which brings the question, if cholesterol level is so important, can you really change it by changing your diet?

The Cholesterol Myth and The Great Global Diet Fraud (1 out of 10)

So here I am, in my mid 30’s, strong enough cardio to do 10 K run under 30 min, visible 6 pack abs, and when I told my mom I could eat up to 5 eggs in a day and I pan fry everything with butter, the first thing she worries about is my cholesterol. So OK mom, this one’s for you, why you probably don’t need to worry to much about how much eggs I eat.

First and foremost, this post is a review of the book “The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease” by Dr. Uffe Ravnskov. I have never met the book writer in person and I get no financial gains from promoting this book that is no longer in print. However I believe this is an amazing book that deserve more exposure among wider audience.

So without further ado, let as start with myths that have been circling around our heads since the 1950’s that our moms still accept as fact:

Myth 1: High Animal Fat Consumption Causes Heart Disease.

First, let us check the US death from major cardiovascular disease from the 1900’s to 2011.

US death due to cardiovascular disease

Source: 1900-1970, U.S. Public Health Service, Vital Statistics of the United States, annual, Vol. I and Vol II; 1971-2001, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics of the United States, annual; National Vital Statistics Report (NVSR) (formerly Monthly Vital Statistics Report); and unpublished data.

Now Let us compare this with the US population fat consumption

US Fat Consumption

Source: USDA Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 1909-2000

Now for all of you that have learned statistics 101 and remember a thing or two about co-relation, you can probably see that the US population death rate due to heart disease is neither proportional, nor inversely proportional with either butter, total or vegetable oil. So if the theory said A causes B, how come the data shows a completely different story?

If you would bother reading the book, it would even expose how African Massai tribesmen that over ate any westerner in red meat and over drank the same westerner on full fat milk has one of the lowest cholesterol level measured based on a study done by Professor [George] Mann [of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, USA] . The book would also mentioned how Honolulu and Puerto Rico citizens that consumed more vegetable oils than animal oil (lard and butter) get more heart attack than those that consume more animal oil in a study conducted by Dr. Tavia Gordon.

This is just the tip of the iceberg on the mountain of data provided in the book that dispels the myth that high animal fat consumption (rich in saturated fat) will cause heart disease. Stay tuned for part 2.