In the U.S. dietary kingdom, saturated fat is most feared - fingered as the cause of coronary heart disease and stroke. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) website, the AHA has been warning us away from saturated fat since 1957. At the urging of AHA board members Ancel Keys and Jeremiah Stamler in 1961, the AHA officially endorsed a low fat, high carbohydrate diet - recommending that we replace saturated fat with margarine, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and hydrogenated vegetable shortenings like Crisco.
Since then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have spent billions of dollars reinforcing the American Heart Association's saturated fat is bad message. For the last thirty years, USDA low fat Dietary Guidelines (1980 to 2010) have recommended that we limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories and cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams a day - the exact numbers in the American Heart Association's 1961 anti-saturated-fat diet.
During this period, nonprofit organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) joined in. In 1984, CSPI launched its anti-saturated fat attack, prompting fast food restaurants and movie theatre owners to replace the traditional more saturated fats like beef tallow and coconut oil with the new fangled hydrogenated vegetable oils - containing the same toxic trans fatty acids first recommended by the AHA in 1961.
In the decades after 1980, food companies spent tens of millions advertising "low fat, low cholesterol" products - containing the government-recommended trans-laden vegetable oil, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup. Throughout this period, the Food and Drug Administration recognized trans fatty acids, sugar and high fructose corn syrup as 'safe' - and the natural saturated fats in butter (there are 8) as 'bad'.
It wasn't long before the American Medical Association, America's schools and universities, and Registered Dietitians preached low fat. As a result, the majority of Americans lowered their fat intake from 40 to 34 percent of calories and switched to the highly processed vegetable oils. Today, we have become the fattest people in the world eating the least amount of saturated fat in our history.
After 50 years of Egg-beaters, low fat cheese, margarine, skinless chicken breasts, and highly processed soy and Canola oils, one third of Americans are obese; 25 percent are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Instead of going down as promised, the incidence of heart failure - the number one Medicare expenditure - more than doubled since 1987 (the year statin cholesterol-lowering drugs were approved in record time).
According to the American Heart Association, expenditures for coronary heart disease will triple during the next 20 years - and heart disease is already the number one Medicare expenditure! Given the current $14 trillion dollar deficit, how can we continue to fight a senseless, expensive war against the very foods the healthier French and Swiss embrace: Butter, cream, pasture-raised meat, eggs, and whole fresh milk?
Why aren't we healthier? Is it possible that the science proving a connection between saturated fat and heart disease was never there in the first place? Can excess omega 6 linoleic acid and excess sugar be the culprits? If saturated fat was never the dietary villain it was made out to be, can we expect our experts in the AHA, USDA, and Big Food to admit they were wrong?
Don't hold your breath!