Industry Influence on Our Dietary Guidelines

Big Food Wants Final Say Over Health Reports
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The story behind the first U.S. dietary guidelines explains why, to this day, the decades of science supporting a more plant-based diet have yet to fully translate into public policy.

George McGovern, who died last year at age 90, was best known for his presidential defeat to Richard Nixon, but he also chaired a committee that released the first dietary guidelines in January 1977. From the press conference of their release:

The simple fact is our diets have changed radically in the last 50 years with very harmful effects on our health. These dietary changes represent as great a threat to public health as smoking.

The diet of the American people has become increasingly rich –rich in meat and other sources of saturated fat and cholesterol and sugar. Most all of the health problems underlying the leading causes of death in the United States could be modified by improvements in diet….

Ischemic heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension are the diseases that kill us. They are epidemic in our population. We cannot afford to temporize. The public wants some guidance, wants to know the truth, and hopefully today we can lay the cornerstone for the building of better health for all Americans through better nutrition.

Dr. Hegsted, a founding member of Harvard’s nutrition department that spoke at the press conference, later recounted in an interview, “The meat, milk and egg producers were very upset.”

And they weren’t the only ones.

The president of the International Sugar Research Foundation called the report “unfortunate and ill-advised,” all evidently part of an “emotional anti-sucrose [table sugar] tidal wave.”  From the official record: “Simply stated, people like sweet things, and apparently the McGovern Committee believes that people should be deprived of what they like. There is a puritanical streak in certain Americans that leads them to become ‘do-gooders.’” You can see all the quotes in my video The McGovern Report.

The president of the Salt Institute felt that there was “definitely” no need for a dietary goal that called for the reduction of salt consumption. In fact, the assertion that “improved nutrition may cut the nation’s health bill by one third” was challenged. He tried to explain that healthcare expenditures increase if the lifespan is prolonged. If people live longer because they eat healthier it could be more expensive. As one researcher pointed out, “If tobacco were banned the increase in the expected lifespan would simultaneously increase the cost of care of old people which comes under the category of healthcare expenditures.” If people eat healthier we might have more old people to take care of!

The National Dairy Council likewise recommended the dietary goals be withdrawn and reformulated to have the “endorsement of the food industry.” So as soon as Häagen-Dazs says they’re okay?

The two industries that went the most ballistic, though, were the meat and egg producers who demanded additional hearings be held. The president of the American National Cattlemen’s Association described why the industry “reacted rather violently,” complaining that meat is never mentioned in a positive way in the guidelines. The only mentions of meat were those associating meat consumption with various degenerative diseases. “If these dietary goals are moved forward and promoted in the present form…entire sectors of the food industry (meat, dairy, sugar, and others) may be so severely damaged that when it is realized that the dietary guidelines are ill-advised, as surely will be the discovery, recovery may be out of reach.”

“Thus guided by my conscience,” said the president of the National Livestock and Meat Board, “I am certain that actions of the animal industries to ensure Americans are properly fed with abundant meat and other animal foods is an honorable and morally correct diet course.”

The meat industry recommended the committee withdraw the dietary guidelines and issue a corrected report. They especially didn’t like guideline #2 to decrease meat consumption to lower saturated fat intake. Senator Dole—Kansas Senator Dole— offered to have that amended from decrease consumption of meat to instead “Increase consumption of lean meat.” “Would that taste better to you?” he asked the president of the cattlemen’s association, who replied, “Decrease is a bad word, senator.”

By the end of the year, a revised version was released. Guideline #2 was changed to “Choose meats, poultry, and fish which will reduce saturated fat intake.”

That wasn’t enough for the meat industry. They wanted the whole committee on nutrition eliminated completely and its functions turned over to the agriculture committee. The New York Times, noting that the Agriculture Committee looks after the producers of food, editorialized that this would be like “sending the chickens off to live with the foxes.” And that’s what happened. The Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs got disbanded.

McGovern never gave up the fight, though. When an interviewer confronted him with the Serenity Prayer’s “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” McGovern rejected the notion, saying: “I keep trying to change them.”

This story of the first dietary guidelines gets at a fundamental issue that I raised previously in another of my favorite videos, The Tomato Effect. If the data are so strong and consistent that a plant-based diet can not only prevent and treat but cure our number one killer (not to mention play a role in helping with 14 of our other top 15 leading causes of death), why isn’t it not only the treatment of choice but also incorporated into the official federal dietary guidelines (as is the case to a small but wildly successful degree in countries like Finland)?

I have a 14 video series from 2011 starting with Nation’s Diet in Crisis and ending with Dietary Guidelines: Pushback From the Sugar, Salt, and Meat Industries that discusses the politics of the latest set of dietary guidelines. They’re working on the 2015 recommendations now. I was scheduled to speak at the last committee hearing but they were unfortunately shuttered due to the government shutdown.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2014 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, and From Table to Able.

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  • Neil

    The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Corporate Sponsors, as if The USDA misleading us isn’t enough http://www.eatright.org/corporatesponsors/

  • Emm

    the only point I don’t get is the claim that Americans’ meat consumption has gone up. I don’t think that is the case at all. Most Americans eat a whole-grain, carb-heavy breakfast. Maybe they get some meat on a sandwich with a side of chips for lunch. Then some meat at dinner after snacking on more carbs, then more carbs after dinner in the form of sugar/snacks. The only people eating bacon and eggs for breakfast are the Paleos, and they are in good health (so far). Just saying the “fact” of meat consumption going up per person never made sense to me because I don’t see it overall.

    • Truth Seeker

      Ever hear of Atkins. Although the last few years, meat consumption has started to fall off after reaching an all time high in 2005.

      The decline to 224 pounds per person, retail weight, marks the fourth decline in a row and fifth in the past six years. Total meat, poultry and fish consumption peaked in 2004 at 237.5 pounds. That year, of course, was the high-water mark for high protein diets such as the Atkins diet and was within two years of the 60th birthdays of the first of the Baby Boomer generation.

      http://www.dailylivestockreport.com/documents/dlr%202-2-2011.pdf

      • Truth Seeker

        If Atkins or Paleo were such great diet plans, you would think that Americans would be healthier than the rest of the world since we eat more animal meat per capita than any other country in the world. The reality is that while Atkins may work as a short term weight loss program, it is unsustainable in the long run because the body normally runs on glucose and cannot stay in a state of ketosis permanently. Therefore, all Atkins adherents eventually go back to eating carbs along with their heart attack incuding, cancer causing, diabetes prone animal consumption. I know from personal experience having eaten Atkins until I got so sick I “regressed” back to being a carb eater.

        Now I eat a whole foods, plant based diet. And I feel better than I have ever felt in my life with my energy levels going through the roof and the fat coming off and staying off my body.

        • disqus_FC2TFwmmae

          I have never gone on Atkins but from what I have heard and read staying in a state of ketosis permanently isn’t the goal.

          • Toxins

            Atkins is one of the worst diets to put your body through. Diets comparing low carb with higher carb diets all show negative outcomes with the low carb.

            Low-Fat Versus Low-Carbohydrate Weight Reduction Diets

            Effects on Weight Loss, Insulin Resistance, and Cardiovascular Risk: A Randomized Control Trial

            This study looked at 24 people who were overweight/obese and divided them into 2 groups. One group was low carb, high fat and the other high carb, low fat.

            High carb group: 20% calories from fat/60% calories from carbs

            Low carb group: 60% calories from fat/20% calories from carbs

            In addition, the study was designed so that participants would lose 1 pound per week, so calories were reduced by 500 per day.

            Volunteers were given pre weighed foods given as daily portions and were assessed by a dietician to make sure that they were adhering to the diet. After 8 weeks, this is what was found to be significant between the two groups. The low carb, high fat group experienced arterial stiffness which basically means impaired arterial function. What this means is that the people on this diet experienced low grade inflammation which can lead to the growth of atherosclerotic lesions and can become heart disease. “It is possible that the high fat content of a low-carbohydrate diet exerts detrimental effects on endothelial function, which raises concerns regarding the long-term safety and efficacy of low-carbohydrate diets…Currently, supported by evidence from long-term trials, we believe that a low-fat diet should remain the preferred diet for diabetes prevention.”

            http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/58/12/2741.long

            Benefit of Low-Fat Over Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Endothelial Health in Obesity

            20 subjects participated in this study. “The [low carb] diet provided 20 g of carbohydrates daily, supplemented with protein and fat content according to the Atkins’ diet recommendation.19 The [low fat] diet provided 30% of the calories as fat, modeled after an American Heart Association diet.” I wouldn’t exactly call the low fat diet “low fat”, but regardless, its far less fat then the low carb diet. Both groups were given 750 calories less with pre made meals so they would stick with the protocol.

            After 6 weeks, there were significant differences between the low carb and the low fat group. The researchers performed a brachial artery test which basically tests to see if arterial function is impaired or not. Typically, the arm is cut off from circulation for about 5 min., then they release the arm, and measure how dilated the blood vessels are. If the blood vessels are constricted, it represents arterial impairment whereas dilation indicates good arterial health.

            On week 2 of the diet, both low carb and low fat groups had poor arterial health and were not significantly different, but by week 6, those on the low carb diet had far worse arterial health then before, and those eating low fat had far better.

            This again shows that this type of diet is promoting heart disease risk.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702133/

            Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: Two cohort Studies

            This study group gathered a larger segment of the population and included “85,168 women (aged 34-59 years at baseline) and 44,548 men (aged 40-75 years at baseline) without heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.”

            The researchers look at both low carb diets that were plant based and low carb diets that were animal based. Here is what they found.

            Low carb/animal based:

            Higher all cause mortality risk
            Higher risk of heart disease
            Higher cancer risk

            Weaker associations were found with the low carb/plant based diets.

            “In our two cohorts of U.S. men and women with up to 20-26 years of follow-up, we observed that the overall low-carbohydrate diet score was only weakly associated with all-cause mortality. However, a higher animal low-carbohydrate diet score was associated with higher all-cause and cancer mortality, while a higher vegetable low-carbohydrate score was associated with lower mortality, particularly CVD mortality.”

            “These results suggest that the health effects of a low-carbohydrate diet may depend on the type of protein and fat, and that a diet including mostly vegetable sources of protein and fat is preferable to a diet with mostly animal sources of protein and fat.”

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989112/

            Low carbohydrate-high protein diet and incidence of cardiovascular diseases in Swedish women: prospective cohort study

            Another study performed in Europe examined another large population.

            Participants From a random population sample, 43396 Swedish women, aged 30-49 years at baseline, completed an extensive dietary questionnaire and were followed-up for an average of 15.7 years.

            Its interesting to note that like many other studies, “several well known patterns are evident, including the reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases with increasing level of education and physical activity and the increased risk with tobacco smoking and history of hypertension.”

            The authors also point out that “Although low carbohydrate-high protein diets may be nutritionally acceptable if the protein is mainly of plant origin and the reduction of carbohydrates applies mainly to simple and refined ones, the general public do not always recognise and act on these qualifications.” Which is basically saying that complex carbohydrates from plant sources or even simple sugars from fruits are not comparable with processed carbohydrates such as white flour, added sugars and other processed carbohydrate based foods such as deserts.

            The aim of the study was to look at the relationship with heart disease risk and low carb diets. They used a scoring system based on how much protein and carbohydrates were consumed. The scores ranged from 2-20. A score of 2 indicated high carbohydrate and low protein whereas a score of 20 indicates low carbohydrate and high protein.

            What the researchers found was that as the score increased, there was an increased rate of heart disease as demonstrated by table 3.

            “In practical terms, and taking into account the rough correspondence in the ranking of energy adjusted and crude tenths of intake, a 20 g decrease in daily carbohydrate intake and a 5 g increase in daily protein intake would correspond to a 5% increase in the overall risk of cardiovascular disease.”

            “With respect to the biomedical plausibility of our findings, vegetables, fruits, cereals, and legumes, which have been found in several studies to be core components of healthy dietary patterns,34 35 are important sources of carbohydrates, so that reduced intake of these food groups is likely to have adverse effects on cardiovascular health. Moreover, several studies have reported that meat consumption or high intake of protein from animal sources may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3383863/

            Low-carbohydrate–high-protein diet and long-term survival in a general population cohort

            Another European cohort study examined data from 2,944 Greeks. The aim of the study was to see whether low carb diets had a strong relationship with all cause mortality. The study notes that low carb diets are popular for weight loss, but they also note that other diets such as zone, weight watchers and the Ornish diet as well as the Atkins diet all produced similar weight loss after 1 year. “It is, thus, of considerable interest, to examine whether prolonged consumption of LC/HP diets is compatible with long-term health.”

            Here is what the study classified as low carbohydrate: 20% carbs, 25% protein, 55% fat

            Here is what is classified as high carbohydrate: 50% carbohydrate, 10% protein and 40% fat.

            Although both diets are very high fat when compared to a healthier, lower fat diet, we are examining the effect of reducing carbohydrate consumption. It is also important to note that we also don’t know what the majority of the carbohydrate sources were, as they could be highly processed. Nonetheless, here are the results.

            In all model tests performed in the study, low carbohydrate/high protein diets had a strong positive relationship with mortality. Models 1 and 2 did not control for calories.

            Model 1: “increasing protein intake was significantly associated with total mortality, whereas increasing carbohydrate intake was associated with nonsignificant reduction of this mortality.”

            Model 2: “the [low carb, high protein] score (absolute values) was positively associated with mortality, although the association did not reach statistical significance”

            Models 3 and 4 controlled for calories, but model 3 did not control for complimentary changes in calories when either protein or carbohydrates are reduced

            Model 3: “mortality was significantly associated with reduction of energy-adjusted carbohydrate intake and nonsignificantly with increasing protein intake.”

            Model 4 shows the most compelling results as it accounted for calories and changes in the low carb, high protein score were unrelated to caloric intake.

            Model 4: “In this model, increasing LC/HP score was significantly associated with mortality… It is worth noting that in all these models mortality tends to be inversely associated with intake of unsaturated lipids and positively, although not always significantly, with saturated lipids.

            What they find from this data is that “an increase of protein intake by about 15 g/day and a decrease of carbohydrate intake by about 50 g/day) was associated with a 22% increase in overall mortality”

            “In conclusion, we have found evidence that dietary patterns that indiscriminate focus on low intake of carbohydrates in general and high intake of proteins in general, and reflect diets that have been frequently recommended for weight reduction, may be associated with increased total mortality if they are pursued for extended periods.”

            http://folk.ntnu.no/lyngbakk/artikler/trichopoulou.pdf

            Low carbohydrate, high fat diet increases C-reactive protein during weight loss.

            Unfortunately, I was unable to find the full text of this study so it is difficult for me to view the details and all I can do is base my conclusions of the study based on the abstract which is not something I like to do. Regardless, the study revealed a very interesting finding. It showed that when subjects of the study went on a low carb, high protein diet for 4 weeks, they had a 25% increase in C-reactive protein. C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation which basically means that this group of people were promoting the development of a chronic disease. In contrast, the high carbohydrate subjects decreased their levels of C-reactive protein by 48%.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17536128

            Low carbohydrate–high protein diet and mortality in a cohort of Swedish women

            We go back to the Swedish cohort study and examine overall mortality as opposed to just cardiovascular risk. The study looked at 42,237 women for 12 years. What they found was this, the higher the protein intake, the higher the mortality and inversely with carbohydrate intake. The higher the fat, both saturated and unsaturated, the higher the mortality rate. And most importantly, the authors note, higher mortality was not correlated with energy intake. The authors note “Increased protein intake and decreased carbohydrate intake appear to be equally unfavourable for cardiovascular mortality”

            The data shows that both heart disease and cancer rates increase when consuming a lower carb, high protein diet.

            “After fine controlling for all assessed mortality risk factors that could act as confounding variables, as well as for total energy and saturated fat intake, women with lower intake of total carbohydrates and higher intake of total proteins, in comparison to those with higher intake of total carbohydrates and lower intake of total proteins, had significantly higher total mortality and, in particular, cardiovascular mortality.”

            http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2007.01774.x/full

            Comparative Effects of Three Popular Diets on Lipids, Endothelial Function, and C-Reactive Protein during Weight Maintenance

            This study is quite interesting. It examined 18 adults aged 20 or over for 6 months. The aim of the study was to examine their health when on 3 diets, the Atkins diet (high fat, low carb), the South beach diet (Mediterranean) and the Ornish diet (low fat, high carb). They found no significant differences between the 3 diets in terms of calories consumed.

            They found higher LDL in the Atkins diet and lower LDL in the low fat Ornish diet. They also found significantly higher levels of C-reactive protein in the atkins diet as opposed to the Ornish diet. What was also found was that the atkins diet had poor results for the Brachial Artery test which again shows impaired arterial function. “High saturated fat intake may adversely impact lipids and endothelial function during weight maintenance. As such, popular diets such as Atkins may be less advantageous for CHD risk reduction when compared to the Ornish and South Beach diets”

            http://engine2diet.com/usrfiles/files/publishedstudies/obesity/comparative-effects-of-3-diets.pdf

            It is interesting to note that TOTAL cholesterol decreased on an ornish diet including HDL, and that the triglycerides increased on an Ornish diet.

            A review examining 108 randomized control trials found this.

            “This systematic review and meta-regression analysis of 108 randomised controlled trials using lipid modifying interventions did not show an association between treatment mediated change in high density lipoprotein cholesterol and risk ratios for coronary heart disease events, coronary heart disease deaths, or total deaths whenever change in low density lipoprotein cholesterol was taken into account. We found a statistically significant, substantial association between change in low density lipoprotein cholesterol and risk ratios for coronary heart disease events, coronary heart disease deaths, or total deaths”

            “Our findings contribute to accumulating evidence that simply increasing the amount of circulating high density lipoprotein cholesterol does not necessarily confer cardiovascular benefits”

            They also note that HDL that is dysfunctional and pro inflammatory may be produced under certain dietary conditions, “recent data suggest that a low fat, high fibre diet, in combination with exercise, converts high density lipoprotein cholesterol from a pro-inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory state.”

            Conclusion: “Available data suggest that simply increasing the amount of circulating high density lipoprotein cholesterol does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease events, coronary heart disease deaths, or total deaths. The results support reduction in low density lipoprotein cholesterol as the primary goal for lipid modifying interventions.”

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2645847/

            Another study examining the effects the different lipids in terms of heart disease risk found that “triglyceride concentration was not independently related with CHD risk after controlling for HDL-C, non–HDL-C, and other standard risk factors, including null findings in women and under nonfasting conditions.21,22 Hence, for population-wide assessment of vascular risk, triglyceride measurement provides no additional information about vascular risk given knowledge of HDL-C and total cholesterol levels, although there may be separate reasons to measure triglyceride concentration (eg, prevention of pancreatitis).”

            http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=184863

          • Ellie Dingwell

            It may not be the goal, but that is inevitably the state our body goes into when deprived of carbs, and ketosis is the very state that causes people on Atkins to lose weight.

    • Toxins

      The typical American diet is not based on whole grains, but refined grains. The bare minimum requirements for Americans is to consume 50% of the grains from whole grain sources, and they typically do not reach this. Eggs, meat, and dairy are central to the standard American diet. The paleo diet is an excuse to continue eating animal based foods, guilt free.
      http://www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/changing_american_diet_13.pdf

      • Veganrunner

        Interesting. Look at all that cheese we eat. Yikes!

      • disqus_FC2TFwmmae

        2 slices of wheat bread have a higher glycemic load than a comparable serving of a Snickers candy bar. Changing to whole wheat doesn’t change the result much.

        http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

        Grains also contain phytates which are anti-nutrients as well as proteins like gluten among others.

        I wouldn’t trust CSPi either. They get on the latest food fad creating a scare which gives them self-serving relevance. They campaigned against coconut oil with baseless scare-mongering causing people to shift to truly horrendous trans fat margarines. With health advocates like that who needs junk food purveyors?

        • Toxins

          Phytates double as antioxidants, and are also eliminated with cooking. I fail to see the issue.

          Lets put Glycaemic load into context, “The associations of dietary GI and GL with diabetes risk should be interpreted by considering nutritional correlates, as foods may have different properties that affect risk.”
          Eating health promoting foods will not lead to chronic disease. Whole wheat bread has strong associations with disease, and you will never find a study linking whole grains to chronic disease.
          http://www.healthgrain.org/webfm_send/251

          Coconut oil is not a health food, it is pure fat. It lacks any appreciable amounts of vitamins and minerals. It does not contain fiber, and is 91% saturated fat. Stick with the whole coconut, not the oil.
          http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/508/2

    • Rick

      http://www.earth-policy.org/data_highlights/2012/highlights25

      Meat consumption per capita in the US peaked a few years ago at 1.8x the rate in the early 1900′s, according to this link (EPI citing USDA).

    • Stephanie Ouhadi

      Emm our portions of meat has gone up as a country. Americans also eat a ton of carbs. Instead of having a 3 oz steaks Americans eat a 8-16 oz steak with a meal along with the heavy carb load. This is how they calculate the increased meat consumption.

  • Mona Sigal

    Dr Greger! You and me both. I am speaker no. 28 in front of the DGAC. I am waiting for the rescheduled date.

  • Caroline

    Angry and fired up by what you read? Being vegan is so much easier than you think, esp. when you have a personal veggie coach showing you the moves! Check it: http://www.veryvegelicious.com

  • Mmmeat

    I have seen various articles over the last year or so that imply or state that saturated fats are not so bad for us. The latest one is from a british cardiologist saying that butter is not so bad http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/top-heart-doctor-unprocessed-fatty-foods-may-actually-be-good-for-you-8897707.html
    Is butter bad, good or somewhere in-between?

    • Toxins

      This would have to overthrow nearly a hundred years of research linking saturated fat and cholesterol with heart disease.

      Studies can be misconstrued by even seemingly well informed doctors for their own gains.

      Studies such as this one are constantly promoted within this community of saturated fat deniers.

      “Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association

      of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease”

      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/91/3/535.full.pdf+html

      This Meta-analysis looked at 21 different studies, and came to the conclusion that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD [heart disease].”

      Shared by Jeff Novick:

      One major problem with this study is they did not look at any studies where the saturated fat intake was less than 7%, which is the level recommended by the American Heart Association. Most of the diets had saturated fat intakes in the range of 10-15% (or more).

      So, just like the studies that criticize “low fat” diets, but never analyze any diet that is truly low fat and based on the principles of low fat, high fiber, whole plant foods, this study criticizes the impact of lowering saturated fat, but never looked at any diet that truly lowered saturated fat to the level recommended.

      Another problem with the study is what the subjects replaced the saturated fat with when comparing the 2. For many, if not most, it was with either (or products containing) hydrogenated/trans fat, while flour, white sugar and/or mono fats.

      People who replaced saturated fat in their diet with polyunsaturated fat (omega 3/6) reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by 19 percent, compared with control groups of people who do not.

      http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000252

      Lastly, studies on all-cause mortality trumps findings for subsets such as CHD and CVD. Most all-cause studies demonstrate a direct relation between saturated fat intake and all-cause mortality and the lower the better. Here is a list of studies showing just this.

      “the results of this study support earlier observations that dietary intakes low in SF or high in FV [fruits and vegetables] each offer protection against CHD mortality. In addition, however, our data suggest that the combination of both high FV with relatively low SF intake offers greater protection against both total and CHD mortality than either practice alone.”

      http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/3/556.long

      “The major finding of the present study is that the average population intake of saturated fat and vitamin C and the prevalence of smokers are major determinants of all-cause mortality rates. Saturated fat and smoking are detrimental, but vitamin C seems to be protective in relation to the health of populations…The potential effect of changes in saturated fat, vitamin C and the prevalence of smokers can be illustrated as follows. A change in saturated fat of 5% of energy is associated with a 4.7% change in age-adjusted all-cause mortality rate (Table 3).”

      http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/29/2/260.long

      “A high RRR pattern score, which was associated with high intake of fat and protein and low intake of carbohydrates, increased the risk of death. Subjects with a pattern score belonging to the highest quintile obtained on average 37·2 % of their energy from fat and 37·6 % from carbohydrates and thus did not meet current dietary recommendations (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2002). Food groups that contributed to this unfavourable pattern of energy sources were red meat, poultry, processed meat, butter, sauces and eggs, whereas a high intake of bread and fruits decreased the pattern score.”

      http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN93_05%2FS000711450500111Xa.pdf&code=6fbdbd311fb43ee23a840b894cced959

      From the National Academy of Science:

      “Saturated fatty acids are synthesized by the body to provide an adequate level needed for their physiological and structural functions; they have no known role in preventing chronic diseases. Therefore, neither an AI nor RDA is set for saturated fatty acids. There is a positive linear trend between total saturated fatty acid intake and total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration and increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). A UL is not set for saturated fatty acids because any incremental increase in saturated fatty acid intake increases CHD risk”

      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=422

      “The saturated fatty acids, in contrast to cis mono or polyunsaturated fatty acids, have a unique property in that they suppress the expression of LDL receptors (Spady et al., 1993). Through this action, dietary saturated fatty acids raise serum LDL cholesterol concentrations (Mustad et al., 1997).”

      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=432

      From the editor in chief of the American Journal of Cardiology.

      “As shown in Figure 1, most of the risk factors do not in themselves cause atherosclerosis [heart disease]…The atherosclerotic risk factors showing that the only factor required to cause atherosclerosis is cholesterol.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3603726/

      • Mmmeat

        Thanks for that comprehensive reply. Conflicting headlines can be very confusing.

      • disqus_FC2TFwmmae

        So you show 7 older studies to counter a recent meta-analysis that represents 21 studies?

        One of the studies you give show improved outcome with substitution of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). But that doesn’t mean saturated fats are bad, it may just mean that PUFA is good. That would explain for example why there are studies showing the Mediterranean diet outperforms low-fat diets despite being higher in fat content.

        Another is based on the cherry-picked and severely flawed 7-Countries Study. It even had to combine smoking and saturated fat conclusions together to come up with its findings. Seems like a similar tactic to how saturated fats are often combined with trans fats in the same discussion despite having essentially different characteristics. Trans fats are clearly bad. Smoking is clearly bad. Not the case with saturated fats. Why cannot these studies simply address saturated fats on their own? Maybe because in such cases the link is too weak to be worth writing about.

        In the last study you give an opinion from one doctor that cholesterol is the only factor required to cause atherosclerosis. However it is serum blood cholesterol that is the issue and it is clearly stated that that isn’t induced in omnivores through dietary cholesterol intake. Dietary cholesterol is a negligible contributor to serum blood cholesterol. Indeed refined carbohydrates may well be the cause. Further it is now well-known that total cholesterol is a poor measure. HDL to LDL ratio is superior and the size of the cholesterol particles need to be taken into account.

        Too many holes in the arguments you present.

        • Toxins

          As said above, “One major problem with this study is they did not look at any studies where the saturated fat intake was less than 7%, which is the level recommended by the American Heart Association. Most of the diets had saturated fat intakes in the range of 10-15% (or more).

          So, just like the studies that criticize “low fat” diets, but never analyze any diet that is truly low fat and based on the principles of low fat, high fiber, whole plant foods, this study criticizes the impact of lowering saturated fat, but never looked at any diet that truly lowered saturated fat to the level recommended.

          Another problem with the study is what the subjects replaced the saturated fat with when comparing the 2. For many, if not most, it was with either (or products containing) hydrogenated/trans fat, while flour, white sugar and/or mono fats.”

          In regards to omega 6, “Advice to substitute polyunsaturated fats for saturated fats is a key component of worldwide dietary guidelines for coronary heart disease risk reduction. However, clinical benefits of the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid, omega 6 linoleic acid, have not been established. In this cohort, substituting dietary linoleic acid in place of saturated fats increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease. An updated meta-analysis of linoleic acid intervention trials showed no evidence of cardiovascular benefit. These findings could have important implications for worldwide dietary advice to substitute omega 6 linoleic acid, or polyunsaturated fats in general, for saturated fats.”

          http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e8707

          I have no interest in debating with you Ancel Keys’ data, as you are not an educated researcher, nor am I. Lets not pretend you understand the data.

          Actually yes, dietary cholesterol does impact blood cholesterol.

          “Serum cholesterol concentration is clearly increased by added dietary cholesterol but the magnitude of predicted change is modulated by baseline dietary cholesterol. The greatest response is expected when baseline dietary cholesterol is near zero, while little, if any, measurable change would be expected once baseline dietary cholesterol was >400-500 mg/d. People desiring maximal reduction of serum cholesterol by dietary means may have to reduce their dietary cholesterol to minimal levels (<100-150 mg/d) to observe modest serum cholesterol reductions while persons eating a diet relatively rich in cholesterol would be expected to experience little change in serum cholesterol after adding even large amounts of cholesterol to their diet."
          http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/55/6/1060.full.pdf

    • disqus_FC2TFwmmae

      Saturated fats aren’t bad, despite what Toxins may imply with his response. It revolves around the question of what do you replace saturated fat with?

      There aren’t many alternatives. You will end up substituting another fat, carbohydrate, or protein.

      If you substituted beef with salmon which has omega 3 polyunsaturated fat, that might be healthier.

      If you replace a full-fat yogurt with a low-fat yogurt that has substituted the fat with sugar you have made a worse choice.

      In short saturated fats in general seem to be neutral. Saturated fats differ from one another though so there are probably some that are better/worse than others.

      As for no one having really compared with a low-fat diet well something the proponents of such diets fail to inform you is that such diets are notoriously difficult to stick with and studies find it difficult to keep volunteers on such a diet, thus the lack of studies. So as a “real world” diet plan that many people can adhere to, the very low fat diet has drawbacks and its effects largely unassessed.

      • Toxins

        Saturated fats being negligible is simply untrue and has no foundation. I know of no evidence showing that a low fat diet is hard to stick with either. If you have studies to share other then opinions then please do.

  • Claudette

    Dear Dr Michael,

    Thank you so much for taking care of us !
    Love all your emails.

    I would like to submit to you that the reason eggs are

    on the bad list is because we cook them and therefore
    change their makeup! This was brought to my attention
    by my accupunturist Dr S. Shyu , Toronto CAn.
    He believes in eggs!!!!! so do I

    Laminine the new product for health also uses eggs
    9 days old fertilized .
    Any comment????’
    Claudette

    Ajijic , Jalisco , Mx.

    • Thea

      Claudette: There are lots of reasons eggs are on the bad list, but I don’t think that cooking has anything to do with it. If you watch Dr. Greger’s videos, you will see that he has nothing against cooked food. (He does recognize that some methods of cooking are better than others.)

      You can learn a whole lot about the problems with eggs by watching those videos on this site. You might consider starting your research with this video:

      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/more-than-an-apple-a-day-preventing-our-most-common-diseases/

      Good luck.

    • Toxins

      The issues with eggs have nothing to do whether the protein is denatured or we lose some b vitamins, its about the cholesterol, saturated fat, Arachidonic acid and elevated IGF-1.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/eggs/

  • disqus_FC2TFwmmae

    Yes a politician is behind the dietary recommendations. It was rammed through despite the science still being sketchy. 40 years later the obesity and diabetes epidemic is much worse. Prudent people will take a hint and ignore the recommendations. Of course the establishment cannot admit they are wrong and suffer the humiliation so will double down on their faulty advice. If you wish to follow such chicanery though that’s up to you.