The demonasation of saturated fat and promotion of low-fat diet is a quite new thing in the history of humanity. It started in late 1800s and early 1900s when cheap vegetable seed oils started to replace the good old animal saturated fat. But the real breakthrough was in 1950s when Ancel Keys presented his lipid hypothesis which stated that saturated fat causes heart disease. It spread among the public and made its way to our dietary guidelines thanks to lobbying work of food industry and few individuals. In these two articles The Big FAT Journey and Is Saturated Fat Evil or Is It a Myth? you can find out how it all happened.

Lipid hypothesis was the biggest health mistake and scam in history of nutrition, that has changed the way we eat, that is still to this date embedded in our dietary guidelines, nutritional advice and engrained in our society, that has been making us sicker and fatter and what is more, this theory has never been proven with a complete, scientific study.

Many studies have been initiated to prove Ancel’s theory, but all of them have ended up proving the opposite. I believe it is just a matter of time until more people are aware of this fact. In fact, many well-known doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists and health professionals are now already re-educating people that fat never was the issue, and is actually an essential nutrient.

Here are just a few major scientific studies


1972  Minnesota Coronary Study

Result: People on cholesterol lowering diet showed significantly greater mortality

The results weren`t published until 17 years later in 1989 because “We didn’t like the results.”  was the answer of Ivan Frantz Jr, the leader of the study. Ancel Keys was a collaborator for the study.


1984  Multiple risk factor intervention trial

Result: Reducing saturated fat intake no effect on preventing heart disease.

The group following the intervention reduced their cholesterol consumption by 42%, saturated fat by 28%, and it had no effect on preventing heart disease.

“The overall results do not show a beneficial effect on coronary heart disease or total mortality from this multifactor intervention.”


1988 – Attempt to prove sat fat caused heart disease.

Result: Project cancelled after 11 yrs – no evidence

In 1988, the surgeon general’s office (head of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC)) decided to gather all the evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease. In 1999, after 11 years, they were unable to prove it due to lack of evidence, and cancelled the project.  No report was ever released advising that they were wrong.


1990 – Report of the Conference on Low Blood Cholesterol: Mortality Associations

Result – Those with the lowest cholesterol levels had highest mortality.

Conference to review and discuss existing data on U-shaped relations found between mortality rates and blood total cholesterol levels. Study done on 1 million people.  Largest analysis of effects of cholesterol on mortality that has ever been done.


1991 – Long-term Mortality After 5-Year Multifactorial Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases in Middle-aged Men

Result: Cholesterol-lowering diets twice as likely to cause death

Following up after the initial study (which was considered a success at proving the diet-heart hypothesis because heart disease ‘risk factors’ like cholesterol levels were reduced), they discovered that those who had continued with the cholesterol-lowering diet were twice as likely to die from heart disease.

“As a multiple intervention against risk factors for coronary heart disease in middle-aged men at only moderate risk seem to have failed to reduce both morbidity and mortality such interventions become increasingly difficult to justify.  This runs counter to the recommendation of many national and international advisory bodies which must now take the recent findings from Finland into consideration.  Not to do so may be ethically unacceptable.”  Professor Michael Oliver

Article – Multiple interventions in middle-aged men may do more harm than good.


1999 – Lyon Diet Heart Study

Result: Fat intake doesn’t affect cholesterol

The Lyon Diet Heart Study largest diet-heart trial ever conducted by the French National Institute of Health and Medical research.  605 heart attach survivors, on two different diets.  Both groups consumed completely diff amounts of fat, but the HDL, LDL and total cholesterol levels in the two groups remained virtually identical.

2001 – Study attempting to prove cholesterol should be kept low.

Result: Worst mortality rates in those maintaining low cholesterol

Starting with the premise that cholesterol should be kept low to lessen risk of heart disease, they studied cholesterol levels for 20 years and compared them to mortality.  Low cholesterol levels had a significant association with mortality.  The worst mortality rates in those who maintained low cholesterol for significant periods of their life.

“We have been unable to explain our results. These data cast doubt on the scientific justification for lowering cholesterol to very low concentrations (<4.65 mmol/L) in elderly people.”

2004 – Study looking at impact of cholesterol levels on mortality.

Result: Low cholesterol significantly associated to mortality

15 year study.  In men, across the entire age range (25 to 90), and in older women, low cholesterol level was significantly associated with all-cause mortality, showing significant associations with death through cancer, liver diseases, and mental disease.


2005 – Study to determine whether fat intake increases risk for heart disease or cancer deaths

Result: High fat diets don’t increase mortality from either heart disease or cancer.

“Objective: Most current dietary guidelines encourage limiting relative fat intake to <30% of total daily energy, with saturated and trans fatty acids contributing no more than 10%. We examined whether total fat intake, saturated fat, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated fat intake are independent risk factors for prospective all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality.”

“Result: With the exception of cancer mortality for women, individuals receiving more than 30% of their total daily energy from fat and more than 10% from saturated fat, did not have increased mortality. Current dietary guidelines concerning fat intake are thus generally not supported by our observational results.”

Researcher’s conclusions: “With our results added to the pool of evidence from large-scale prospective cohort studies on dietary fat, disease and mortality, traditional dietary guidelines concerning fat intake are thus generally not strongly supported”

2006 –  Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.

Result: Dietary intervention did not reduce risk of CHD or stroke.

Objective:  To test the hypothesis that a diet low in fat and high in vegetables, fruits, and grains to reduce cancer, would reduce CVD risk.  Result: Over a mean of 8.1 years, a dietary intervention that reduced total fat intake and increased intakes of vegetables, fruits, and grains did not significantly reduce the risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD in postmenopausal women and achieved only modest effects on CVD risk factors.

2009 – Dietary Fat and Coronary Heart Disease: Summary of Evidence from Prospective Cohort and Randomised Controlled Trials

Result: Saturated fat not associated with heart disease mortality

Intake of saturated fat was not significantly associated with cardiovascular disease mortality, cardiovascular events, or death from cardiovascular disease.


2010 – Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease

Result: No correlation between sat fat intake and heart disease

Saturated fat intake wasn’t linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, or strokes, even among those with the highest intake. This study didn’t find any association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease.

2011 – Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease

Result: Fat intake had no impact on heart disease

Study to determine whether reduced dietary fat prevented heart disease, July 2011.  Results: “There were no clear effects of dietary fat changes on total mortality or cardiovascular mortality”


2011 – Study. Result: Cholesterol is good for us.

Researchers find that ‘bad’ cholesterol is actually good for us.

Science Daily May 8, 2011



2011 – Study – health benefits of coconut oil

Studies show coconut oil helps women lose weight and elevates good cholesterol.


2011 – Framingham Heart Study

Started in 1948 and still continues today. Their many studies over the years show no association between saturated fat intake and heart disease


2012 – Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials on effects of low-carb diets on cardiovascular risk factors. Full study

Results: Low carb diets had favourable effects on weight and cardiovascular risk.


2013 – Study – Result: Replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils increases risk for heart disease and death. Full study

“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.”


2014 – Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Result: Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat does not reduce heart disease risk

The study didn’t find any link between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease or death. People with higher saturated fat intake weren’t at an increased risk of heart disease or sudden death.

Furthermore, the researchers didn’t find any benefit to consuming polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were an exception, as they had protective effects.

“Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.”


2014 – Effect of the amount and type of dietary fat on risk factors for cardiometabolic risk factors, and risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer: A systematic review

Consuming saturated fat wasn’t linked to an increased risk of heart disease or an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, substituting refined carbs for saturated fat may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.


2014 – Dietary fatty acids in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease: a systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression

Results: No evidence that reducing fats is beneficial for secondary prevention of heart disease

A Systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression on randomised controlled trials comparing reduced/modified fat diets with control diets. “Recommending higher intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids in replacement of saturated fatty acids was not associated with risk reduction.”


2015 – Statins increase risk of heart disease

“We have collected a wealth of information on cholesterol and statins from many published papers and find overwhelming evidence that these drugs accelerate hardening of the arteries and can cause, or worsen, heart failure.”

“The hypothesis that Statins protect the heart by lowering cholesterol is flawed and that high cholesterol is not necessarily linked to heart disease.”

“I cannot find any evidence to support people taking Statins and patients who are on them should stop.” Lead Researcher, Dr Okuyama

Dr Peter Langsjoen, a heart specialist in Texas and co-author of the study, says, “Statins are being used so aggressively and in such large numbers of people that the adverse effects are now becoming obvious. These drugs should never have been approved for use. The long-term effects are devastating.”


2015 – Intake of Saturated and Trans Unsaturated Fatty Acids and Risk of All Cause Mortality, Cardiovascular Disease, and Type 2 Diabetes: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies

Results: Saturated fat intake wasn’t linked with heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, or dying of any cause.

Trans fats were associated with all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, heart disease mortality.


2015 – Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease

The study found no statistically significant effects of reducing saturated fat in regard to heart attacks, strokes, or all-cause deaths.


2016 – Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73)

Re-evaluation of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment (randomised controlled trial done between 1968 and 73). No evidence that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated reduces mortality from heart disease.

Available evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that replacement of saturated fat in the diet with linoleic acid effectively lowers serum cholesterol but does not support the hypothesis that this translates to a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease or all causes. Findings from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of the benefits of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid.


2017 – The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Results: Replacing saturated fat with mostly unsaturated is unlikely to reduce cardiovascular events.

A meta-analysis of adequately controlled randomised controlled trials showed no effect for reducing cardiovascular events, cardiovascular event mortality or total mortality. “Available evidence from randomized controlled trials provides no indication of benefit on coronary heart disease or all cause mortality from replacing saturated fat with linoleic acid rich vegetable oils.”


2017 – Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions

Editorial written by three cardiologists: Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition

“It is time to shift the public health message in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease away from measuring serum lipids and reducing dietary saturated fat. Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 min a day and eating real food.”



I hope this article will help you to make healthier shopping choices. But most importantly motivate you to ask the right questions about the food we eat.



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