This is Part Two in a two-part series. Click here for part one.
When did we get scared about health?
In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had a heart attack while playing golf in Colorado. Up to this time, heart attacks were rare, and you didn’t hear much about them in society.
This scared the crap out of Americans. In this article titled, ‘President Eisenhower changed the way doctors treat heart attacks,’ the author writes, “This was the first time that the press extensively reported that heart attacks might be caused by cholesterol and saturated fat.”
Soon, institutional medical and academic communities started studying the heart and wanted to know why our healthy Commander-in-Chief had a bad heart.
Up to the early 1960s, half of our diet was from animal fats. We ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, consumed butter every day, and incorporated beef and animal protein into every meal with very little processed carbohydrates.
After Eisenhower’s heart attack, several groups gained popularity and new industries took shape. One was the American Heart Association (AHA).
Prior to Eisenhower’s heart attack, the AHA barely survived. But with the new focus on heart health, the AHA gained popularity and helped outline narratives about pollution, vitamin deficiencies, and, most importantly, cholesterol.
Ironically, however, one thing they didn’t outline was the dangers of smoking cigarettes. Eisenhower himself smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day.
One could see why though, considering the tobacco industry’s overwhelming power. It’s certain they had enough money and influence to steer the narrative away from cigarettes and heart disease.
This all leads us to Ancel Benjamin Keys. Keys was an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health. In particular, he hypothesized that replacing dietary saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces cardiovascular heart disease. Modern dietary recommendations by health organizations, systematic reviews, and national health agencies corroborate this.
His interest in diet and cardiovascular disease (CVD) was prompted, in part, by seemingly counterintuitive data. American business executives, presumably among the best-fed people, had high rates of heart disease, while in post-war Europe, CVD rates decreased sharply in the wake of reduced food supplies.
Keys postulated a correlation between cholesterol levels and CVD. So, he initiated a study of Minnesota businessmen (the first prospective study of CVD). At a 1955 expert meeting at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Keys presented his diet-lipid-heart disease hypothesis with “his usual confidence and bluntness.”
As part of his argument, he presented a correlation between deaths from heart disease and the percentage of fat in the diet that featured seven countries. However, two other epidemiologists heavily critiqued his rationale and conclusions.
Regardless, Mr. Keys did many experiments, had several hypotheses, and wielded a lot of influence both within our government and the agricultural and medical communities.
One of his studies was the Minnesota Coronary Experiment.
Minnesota Coronary Experiment
The Washington Post wrote about the study in an article called, ‘This study 40 years ago could have reshaped the American diet. But it was never fully published.’
In 1968, about ten years after the beginning and two years after the first publication of the results of the Seven Countries Study, Ancel Keys and Ivan Frantz initiated a large, randomized control trial. They replaced saturated fats in food items with naturally high or artificially raised content of linoleic acid in an intervention group.
The randomized and blinded experiment ended in 1973. Results weren’t published until much later in the form of smaller excerpts as part of conference talks or doctoral theses. The raw data and analysis weren’t discovered until 2013 in the estate of the principal investigator Ivan Frantz.
Overall, the study shows no positive effects of the altered dietary intake. Cardiovascular mortality of patients over 65 years of age increased by the replacement of saturated fats.
The 2016 paper “Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment” concludes some important findings as well:
“Conclusions – 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 the overestimation of the benefits of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid. If you notice above, this study was buried and did not surface until 2016 when his research was found in a basement.
I do not have to elaborate here. They covered up the fact that there were no findings that proved saturated fat, animal protein, led to heart disease nor was it unhealthy for you. The study did point out, moreover, that more test subjects died earlier when they only consumed a diet of vegetable fats and oils.
Everything I have just pointed out gives you a better understanding of the Medical-Pharmaceutical-Agricultural Complex (MPAC) and its origins. It’s power over our daily life and our understanding of nutrition and food as a whole. It shows you the connections and how they’re basically one big global corporation with an agenda.
And that agenda has nothing to do with your overall health.
It’s difficult to imagine an area of scientific research, over the past century, more controversial than the diet-heart health question. Even more unsettling is the fact that the hypotheses presented in scholarly reviews often directly conflict with or reverse prevailing opinions.
For example, many brave researchers are fully aware that dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) peroxidatively degrade to highly toxic lipid oxidation products (LOPs) such as chemically reactive aldehydes when exposed to high-temperature frying, cooking, or processing practices.
Currently, many now also accept that LOPs arising therefrom are quite dangerous if ingested after the subjection of PUFA-rich frying oils to excessive heating in this manner or following storage at ambient temperatures for significant periods of time, as is often the case.
Moreover, even less-reactive monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are susceptible to oxidative damage, too. This is especially present in cooking oils reused for repeated frying episodes, or when subjected to prolonged storage periods, especially in bright light.
As a corollary, we also believe that in view of their extreme stability, saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are far less dangerous than PUFAs, if used in this context. Similarly, we now recognize that the cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis was based on data obtained initially on severely flawed experiments.
All indications are that ‘pure’, i.e., unoxidized, cholesterol is harmless. Indeed, cholesterol is one of the most vital biomolecules present in the human body.
If you want to dive deeper, you can read this paper titled “One hundred years of diet-heart research: Good science, junk science and honest mistakes.”
You can also check out and see how metabolically healthy you are. I came across heart surgeon Dr. Ovadia a while back, and the way he approaches health and the heart is pioneering our awareness and your approach to health and nutrition.
If you have questions, reach out. If you need consulting, reach out. If you want to change your life, reach out. This is what I do. And you can find my twitter here.
Soldier on and have a fantastic week, and please, just for me, eat a damn steak. I don’t care how much it costs! You’ll thank me for it!