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Dietary Fats and Cholesterol (Part I of III)


Last updated 5/17/2007 at Noon

For the past several decades we have been bombarded with saturated fat and cholesterol scares and claims that animal products are bad for us. Along with these scares has come the notion that a low saturated fat/low cholesterol diet and/or vegetarianism is a healthier dietary option for all people.

Before 1920 coronary heart disease was rare in America. Today heart disease causes at least 40% of all US deaths. From 1910 to 1970, animal fat in the American diet declined from 83% to 62%, and butter consumption from 18 pounds per person per year to 4. Interestingly, dietary cholesterol intake has increased only 1%. During the same period the percentage of dietary vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils increased about 400% while the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60%. If, as we have been told, heart disease results from the consumption of saturated fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase in animal fat in the American diet. Obviously, the reverse is true. 10

A consideration to take in is that heart and kidney disease, cancer, obesity and osteoporosis are primarily 20th century occurrences, yet people have been eating meat and animal fat for thousands of years. The studies used to promote low saturated fat/low cholesterol diets or vegetarianism do not take into consideration that other factors besides the animal foods are at work in these diseases.

These studies neglect to take into account other dietary factors such as the harmful effects of eating refined sugar, nutrient-poor “foods,” trans-fats [hydrogenated fats], fried food [which causes the fat to become rancid] and vegetable oils. These are all 20th century foods and tend to get mixed in with animal fat consumption in studies promoting low saturated fat/low cholesterol and/or vegetarianism. It is also commonly believed that saturated fats and cholesterol “clog arteries.” On the contrary, studies have shown that arterial plaque is primarily composed of unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated ones, and not the saturated fats of animals, palm and coconut.1 Trans-fatty acids, as opposed to saturated fats, have been shown by researchers to be causative factors in atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, cancer and other assorted diseases.2 Are these studies that promote low saturated fats and low cholesterol diets taking into consideration these trans fats?

Biotics Research tells us, “For most patients, lowering dietary cholesterol will generally have little effect in decreasing serum cholesterol. Addressing other factors such as exercise, coffee consumption, smoking, obesity, excessive carbohydrate consumption, endocrine and liver/biliary function, will have a greater effect on lowering cholesterol than lowering dietary cholesterol.”

If you would be interested in knowing more about a specific area or approach in natural health or nutrition, send me an e-mail at [email protected] I’m open to your suggestions on topics of interest.

1. This article is for educational purposes only.

2. Your individual health status and any required health care treatments can

only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider. We

encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your

research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional of

your choice.


1. Lancet 344:1195 (1994)

2. Mann, George, “Metabolic Consequences of Dietary Trans-fatty Acids,” Lancet 343:1268-71 (1994)

3. “7th Day Adventists & Cancer,” Am. Jnl. Clin. Nutr. 59:1136S-1142S (1994)

4. JAMA 248(12):1465, September 24, 1982

5. Lancet 339:3/2/92

6. Dunne, L. The Nutrition Almanac, 3rd ed. (McGraw Hill; New York), p. 32-33; Garrison, R. & Somer,, E. The Nutrition Desk Reference, 3rd ed., (Keats Publishing; CT), p. 126.

7. Scheer, James. Health Freedom News, (Monravia, CA), march 1991, p. 7.

8. Food Technology, October 1988, p. 134; Kabara, J.J. The Pharmacological Effects of Lipids (Amer Oil Chemists Society; IL), 1978, pp. 1-14.

9. Harmon, D., Jnl of Amer Geriat Soc, 1976 24:1: pp. 292-298

10. Enig, Mary G, PhD, Trans Fatty Acids in the Food Supply: A Comprehensive Report Covering 60 Years of Research, 2nd Edition, Enig Associates, Inc, Silver Spring, MD, 1995, 4-8

11. Pediatrics, Mar 1994, 93:3:438-443

12. Journal of the American College of Nutrition October, 2000


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