The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) tried to create a study using the right kind of science – a clinical trial. But Keys was put in charge, along with a colleague, and they attempted to create new foods from oils that would resemble animal meats. This included milk “filled” with soybean oil.
The NHLBI held a pre-study trial that, if fruitful, would be sized up for a much bigger study to put the stamp on the diet-heart hypothesis. But the trial didn’t last long, as 25% of men dropped out because they found it too hard to keep the diet between always eating at home and convincing their wives to cook without animal fats.
So, NIH peeled back to fund two smaller $250 million studies, still the largest nutritional trial at the time. The results were a disaster for the diet-heart hypothesis. Keys’ colleague who ran the study called it “troublesome” and “unexpected.”
But, there have since been three studies that put the diet-heart hypothesis to rest. However, with an overwhelming crowd shouting them down, they’ve never been well-publicized.
In the 1980s, Dr. Dean Ornish controlled the airwaves and promoted the near vegetarian diet. He competed with Dr. Atkins, studying thing this exact issue at the same time but advocating in the other direction for a high-fat diet. Both sold millions of their books. But Ornish’s single trial turned into several scientific publications. Meanwhile Atkins’ handful of smaller trials didn’t receive as much respect.
What should we eat?
In summary, the science simply isn’t there to advocate a low-fat diet for all Americans. Worse yet, while the studies were done on adult males, we’ve pushed the terrible suggestion onto women and children over age 2, as well.
If you read the book, you’ll see that Teicholz serves up even more evidence against a low-fat diet. She notes that before 1910, when hydrogenated oils burst on the scene, we were eating far more saturated fat than we are today. Also rising with heart attacks between 1910 and the studies in the 1950s was vegetable oil usage, sugar consumption, smoking, and car exhaust fumes, in nearly every country.
We’ve learned much about cholesterol since then, including the difference between LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol.
Fat is the soul of flavor, as Teicholz puts it – we’ve learned this as we removed it from the diet. We traded saturated fats for Trans fats, and put the American Heart Association logo on cookies, crackers and even Rice Crispie bars. The oils, except for olive oil, create toxic aldehydes when heated, yet we cook with these almost everywhere.
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