In medical school, we were taught that half of what we were learning was wrong, we just did not know what half yet. In so many ways, I feel like listening to the wisdom of my grandparents may have served me better than listening to the “wisdom” I gained in medical school for preventing chronic disease.
For 40 years, doctors and their patients have been taught to avoid foods high in saturated fat or cholesterol like butter, whole milk, eggs and red meat because they were bad for your heart and your arteries. The AMA, FDA, and AHA officials have been urging us to cut fat and cholesterol for nearly four decades. (We knew this was not right, and for 10 years have been counseling our patients on a whole food, plant based diet low in inflammatory foods which very often means being gluten-free. Dairy, meat and eggs are allowed if you are not sensitive to them.)
Nevertheless, a February report published in the online journal BMJ Open Heart calls “foul!” on all that low-cholesterol advice. They concluded that the dietary recommendations introduced to 220 million US and 56 million UK citizens by 1983 were not backed up by any supporting evidence!!
They reviewed the older clinical trials, all published before 1983, and looked at dietary fat and cholesterol, and evaluated the chances of getting heart disease. There was no “relationship between dietary fat intake and deaths from [coronary heart disease] or all causes,” Even when patients significantly reduced their cholesterol intake, they did not end up living longer, and NO WOMEN were included in these trials!!
In 1983, we started eating the American Heart Association diet and following the food pyramid, with very little fat and 9-11 servings of simple starchy carbohydrates. Look at what happened: sky-rocketing rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
The authors of the latest study agree that low-fat dietary guidelines never had supporting scientific evidence, and really should never have been introduced.
There is bountiful evidence that we can eat flesh foods (but chicken and fish much more often than red meat), modest amounts of butter, milk and cheese AS LONG AS we are also eating more fresh green, leafy vegetables, nuts, fruits and legumes.
The largest amount of evidence supports a Mediterranean diet that rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains (organic and not GMO) and lot of seeds, nuts and olive oil.
Dietary cholesterol is NOT bad for you. If you have been avoiding eggs for breakfast, start enjoying them again, and support your local free range egg farmer while doing so!
Stay tuned, my next article will discuss what we know about blood levels of cholesterol.