16 November 2007
Stop Blaming Saturated Fat
The research is clear: Carbohydrates, not fats, are the foe in America's battle against heart disease and obesity
By: Adam Campbell & Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D.
The recent news that the Atkins low-carb diet works well and improves health has some people scratching their heads.
If Atkins means eating lots of meat, eggs and cheese, won't all that saturated fat wreck your cholesterol levels and put you on the road to heart disease?
Well, no. There's no good evidence of that. And there's plenty of evidence that the opposite is true--that eating more saturated fat lowers the risk for heart disease. That's what a recent Harvard University study found: People who had the highest saturated fat intake also had the least plaque buildup on their artery walls. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition described the findings as an "American Paradox."
In the Stanford University study that made recent headlines, women on the "fatty" Atkins diet ended up with the healthiest cholesterol levels and the best blood pressure readings, compared to those on other diets, notably the famous Ornish low-fat diet.
Here are a few bullet-points summarizing the current research on saturated fats.
--We typically eat more than a dozen kinds of saturated fat. Some have zero effect on cholesterol. Some raise bad (LDL) cholesterol, but all of them raise good (HDL) cholesterol to a greater extent. That’s a net gain in heart health.