T Nation

Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Studies


Looking for some help metaphorically slapping my friend in the face with a carton of whole eggs.

After reading the Brian St. Pierre article on forgotten muscle foods, I was struck by this sentence

"If you still think that saturated fat and cholesterol contribute to heart disease â?? wait, no one still really believes that, do they?"

YES, THEY DO!!! I have a buddy who is terrified of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. Despite the fact that he is a medical professional (or because he is a medical professional) he holds onto these antiquated notions. Can someone please point me towards some of the most convincing or irrefutable studies that have disproved the idea that eating whole eggs and drinking whole milk will clog your arteries.



Also, what DOES cause heart disease?!

Thanks again,





I saw Dr Eades had another study about saturated fat not being linked to heart disease on his Twitter sight. It can be seen here:

More evidence that saturated fats are harmless, especially while following a lowcarb diet





Bomb first post ^^^^


The best book I have read on this is Good Calories and Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. The book is a long 500 page read, by the authour pretty much debunks every myth out there on saturated fat.


Mostly an awful book (I've been through this many times). It is a great example of using scientific sounding jargon to form a weak argument that will inevitably influence the uneducated masses (The China Study is another one of these books).

And the saturated fat issue is not as simple as people make it out to be. The answer is not as simple as saturated fat has no effect on heart disease or saturated fat does have an effect on heart disease. It seems to be a question of DOSE and CONTEXT and the extent that saturated fat relates to heart disease. Context refers to a very large set of factors including the weight, age, genetics (some may be hypersensitive), activity level, health level, risk factors, and the current diet/nutrition plan a person follows (how many fruits/veggies, low-carb or high carb, high fat or low-fat, high protein or low protein, high fiber or low fiber, etc, etc, etc). Just reading the posted studies makes this clear.

I'm too lazy to get too deep into the posted studies/articles, but I will point out some things within 2 of the abstracts:

FROM: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20354806
"Based on consistent evidence from human studies, replacing SFA with polyunsaturated fat modestly lowers coronary heart disease risk, with ~10% risk reduction for a 5% energy substitution; whereas replacing SFA with carbohydrate has no benefit and replacing SFA with monounsaturated fat has uncertain effects. Evidence for the effects of SFA consumption on vascular function, insulin resistance, diabetes, and stroke is MIXED, with many studies showing no clear effects, highlighting a need for FURTHER INVESTIGATION of these endpoints. "

In short:

1) Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat = modestly improved health markers...note how types of polyunsaturated fat are not distinguished.
2)Overall the studies are mixed on the effect of saturated fat on various diseases and disease markers.
3)Further investigation on saturated fat-CVD relationship should occur.

FROM: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20089734
"Clinical trials that replaced saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat have generally shown a reduction in CVD events, although several studies showed no effects. An independent association of saturated fat intake with CVD risk has not been consistently shown in prospective epidemiologic studies, although some have provided evidence of an increased risk in young individuals and in women. Replacement of saturated fat by polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat lowers both LDL and HDL cholesterol. However, replacement with a higher carbohydrate intake, particularly refined carbohydrate, can exacerbate the atherogenic dyslipidemia associated with insulin resistance and obesity that includes increased triglycerides, small LDL particles, and reduced HDL cholesterol. In summary, although substitution of dietary polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat has been shown to lower CVD risk, there are few epidemiologic or clinical trial data to support a benefit of replacing saturated fat with carbohydrate."

In short,

  1. replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat and/or = possible reduced risk of CVD.
  2. replacing saturated fat with heavily refined carbohydrates = likely no decreased risk of CVD.
  3. Epidemiological studies are mixed (some show the correlation, some don't)


hey Marvs, don't even bother man.

i've smacked my friends and family over the head with the "irrefutable" studies you're looking for.

guess what? didn't change their minds AT ALL. i have never witnessed a higher level of brainwashing than this. honestly, it is hopeless. don't bother man. been there done that way too many times.


You can't really blame people for this. Imagine if you're diagnosed with some form of heart disease and the doctors, the nutritionists, the media and everything you've ever heard in your life about it says one thing, and one person in your life who has a few internet articles says something different are you really going to chance your life on it?

It's a bit like if you get diagnosed with cancer, are you going to listen to your friend who's into herbal medicine and is against traditional medicine or your doctor who wants you to get radiation treatment and chemo?

It's a pretty big gamble for some people who are on the really high risk end of the spectrum.


Saturated fat and heart disease: studies old and new


yeah when it's a life or death situation sure. but i wasn't telling this to heart patients but mainly younger men.

how is it that you and i have been able to rise above the media/doctors beliefs? through reading these studies, so you'd think that my similarly aged friends when given the same studies and explanations would begin to catch on... again these are not people that were told anything by their doctors since they aren't dying of heart disease or cancer.

if you and i can see through the bs, how come they can't?


X2 ...Consider it the "metaphorical egg carton" to the dome.


honestly, nothing's gonna change anyone's mind.
i lost 50 lbs(37% to 16% bf) and got rid of high cholesterol and changed the fact that i was pre-diabetic and was already taking medications by cutting cereal,white bread and eating more protein and fats. my parents think "it was puberty changing my body"

my brother is obese(32%bf) at age 11, and pre-diabetic. his doctor told him to eat more carbs and cut fat. he's fatter than ever. i plead with my parents to let him at least take some olive oil! nothing is gonna change my parents belief. i'm just thankful that i realized how to eat before i had full blown diabetes. my brother will most likely live with diabetes.

i realized it's better if i just lie about how i lost weight. i say "i ate more whole grains" like in breakfast cereal commercials. what changed me was seeing a post in Shugart's Hammer, "bread is dead".

if your serious about changing people, use yourself as an example. if the people you want to change listen and succeed, good for them. if they don't......now you know who the blind sheep are!


^^Eventually they will listen. You're setting a good example and if your parents don't catch on, your brother will, even if painstakingly slowly. Don't lie about how you did it because your brother will follow you.

Great job on your health!

ProjectX, it may seem that the information is readily available but it really isn't. For every article out there promoting increasing protein there are 15 promoting special K. I think it's going to get better. I think I found the information I needed because I wanted muscle. Most of my friends and just want to get thinner and therefore won't look beyond the mainstream information that is mostly supplied by food manufacturers.


Yea, this level of brainwashing is amazing. Part of the problem is that the old unproven information (sat. fat intake and cholesterol lead to heart disease) is still being taught in medical schools. I had an argument with a doctor about this very topic and they will actually revert to "Well I learned this in med school, you're not a doctor". That's funny because I'm a biochemist so this topic is clearly beyond my comprehension. In summation, you can try to convince people all you want, but they are going to cling to the beliefs they've held on to for so long. It's hard to convince them when the majority of the world is telling them one thing and only a small minority goes against it. People don't change their thinking overnight.


It doesn't help when you get people like Bill Clinton jumping on the Dr. Ornish band-wagon, and having access to national media to perpetuate these myths. Not picking on Clinton in particular, he's just a recent example, and got a lot of attention.


http://thehealthyskeptic.org/ i find is really good, covers a whole range of issues

AND http://rawfoodsos.com/ dont be put off by the name. blogger was a vegan, then changed to vege/omni after a change of perspective and she reviews all the new 'scientific' studies on nutrition as they come out. very good for people who like data and science


that blog is awesome, good find