By Nurse Mark
Everybody knows that saturated fats will give you a heart attack – right? Why, even just looking at saturated fats can clog your arteries. And butter? Eek! That stuff will kill ya! Why take a chance, eating something as dangerous as butter, when there are nice, safe, healthy, polyunsaturated margarine spreads out there that you can buy?
After all, everyone knows that mankind really was meant to chow down on concentrated plant fats like cottonseed oil, rapeseed oil, safflower oil, flax oil, corn oil and others. Why, the oil just fairly drips out of those plants, right? It doesn’t? You mean that you have to process the heck out of all those plants to get that oil? Who knew?
OK, Ok… I’ll stop being so sarcastic now…
My recent HealthBeat News article Fake Eggs And Other Food Fads drew some flak from folks who would have us abandon all animal-based foods in favor of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Our evil carnivorous dietary advice would bring illness, misery and premature death to our readers they said – and it would be all our fault!
Well, hot off the medical presses is an article published in the British medical Journal (The BMJ) with the rather dry and imposing title of:
“Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis” – published 5 February 2013.
Here’s the “short course”:
The Sydney Diet Heart Study was a single blinded, parallel group, randomized controlled trial conducted from 1966 to 1973 that involved 458 men aged from 30 to 59 years with a recent coronary event (i.e.: “heart attack”). Their diets were modified by replacing butter with omega 6 polyunsaturated margarine.
(Remember all that stuff I wrote about assessing research in The China Study. Again… ? Well, “single blinded, parallel group, randomized controlled” means it was a well-done study.)
Researchers thought that they would see an improvement in health in the men who were using the polyunsaturated margarine – after all, everyone knows that margarine is healthier than butter, right?
But here is what the researchers actually found: The margarine eaters had higher rates of all cause death, cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease than the butter eaters.
Yikes! As the Chrysler car ad for the 1993 Dodge Intrepid said: “This changes everything!”
Here are their conclusions from the 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 [study], 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.
If you are reading that the researchers say that “worldwide dietary guidelines” are wrong, then you are reading the conclusion exactly the same way I am.
Go on – enjoy your butter. It looks like maybe it’s that so-called “heart-healthy” polyunsaturated vegetable oil margarine that’ll kill you!
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