07 February 2013


Supports Chapter Five - Fats: from tonic to toxic

I have been extolling the virtues of butter over margarines made with linoleic acid-rich vegetable oils ever since 1971. Now, the medical fraternity is finally getting the message - and, more importantly, publishing it!

This week, not only the BMJ but many UK Newspapers have published articles which vindicate my stance. But, as you will read, there are some who really don't want to know.

Swapping butter for margarine and vegetable oils could trigger a heart attack, scientists have warned.

Decades of dietary advice has been turned on its head after experts uncovered startling new evidence about the dangers of eating “healthy” spreads.

A study revealed an ingredient in vegetable fats triggers inflammation – which plays a major role in chronic illnesses from heart disease and cancer to arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

The findings will have major implications for millions of Britons who have stopped using butter in favour of trendy, and less fatty, spreads and oils following healthy-­living guidance.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the ­British Heart Foundation, said: “Our understanding of the effect of different fats on the heart develops all the time as research into this complex issue is published. Replacing saturated fats with ­unsaturated alternatives is a well-known recommendation for your heart which is based on many large and in-depth studies.

“However, this research highlights the need for us to further understand how different unsaturated fats affect our risk of heart disease.

“Whichever fats you use it’s important to be sparing with them. Try to grill, bake, or steam your food, rather than frying. Measuring out oils instead of pouring straight from the bottle is another good way of making sure you’re not overdoing it.”

The new research, published online in the British Medical Journal, was carried out by experts from the US Government’s National Institutes of Health in Maryland. They recovered missing data from a study in the 1960s involving 458 men aged 30-59 who had suffered a heart attack or angina.

Using modern statistical methods to compare death rates, they found there was no evidence of the benefit of replacing saturated fats with omega-6 linoleic acid, found in vegetable fats.

In fact, they said replacing the animal fats with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from vegetable fats increased risk of death in those patients with cardiovascular disease.

Those who increased their intake of the “healthy” fats over three years were almost twice as likely to die.

The omega-6 linoleic acid group in the study had a higher risk of death from all causes (62 per cent), as well as from cardiovascular disease (70 per cent) and coronary heart disease (74 per cent), compared to others.

Linoleic acid is present in high amounts in some commonly used vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, safflower and soya bean.

Once in the body, it is converted into a chemical called arachidonic acid which can trigger the release of other chemicals leading to inflammation, a leading cause of a host of chronic diseases.

In the UK, people consume on average of 10g per day of linoleic acid, found in about nine level teaspoons of polyunsaturated margarine or three teaspoons of sunflower oil. Coronary heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer with about one in five men and one in seven women dying from the disease.

It causes around 94,000 deaths each year. There are also at least 2.6 million people living with the condition.

Angina, the most common symptom of coronary heart disease, affects two million in Britain.

Dr Christopher Ramsden, for the NIH study, said: “Advice to substitute vegetable oils rich in PUFAs for animal fats rich in saturated fats has been a cornerstone of dietary guidelines for the past half century.

“These findings could have important implications for worldwide dietary advice to substitute omega-6 linoleic acid, or polyunsaturated fats in general, for saturated fats.”

Professor Philip Calder, a nutritional immunologist at Southampton University, said the study provided “important information” on a health issue causing “considerable debate”.

It's about time that 'debate' reached its conclusion. We have evidence from over 50 years of study into fats and heart disease. The only fats that have shown harm are the 'healthy' vegetable oils and products made from them. No study has ever found statistically convincing evidence that butter is anything other than beneficial.

Caveat emptor
Although UK law requires food labels to warn of saturated fat content, it is 'high in polyunsaturates' that the buyer should beware of.

Christopher E Ramsden, Daisy Zamora , Boonseng Leelarthaepin, et al. Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis. BMJ. 2013 Feb 4;346:e8707. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8707.


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness. At last the truth.
Cannot come soon enough.

Just need the cholesterol statin nonsense to be sorted out now. One follows the other.

Stan (Heretic) said...

Thanks, I hope you don't mind a quote from your blog on mine. Very interesting study! Makes me wonder how could the (unfavorable!) results of a large and probably expensive study have just gone "missing", given that the investigators and some of their patients probably realized that it was going in the "wrong" direction and begun reverting back to butter!

Had the tape been found earlier there would probably have been no food pyramid, no McGovern committee and no veg oil industry!

Another interesting issue is how exactly was the tape found, who found it and where?

The more I think about it the more amazing it is. We are dealing here with a relatively large and most likely expensive study with most of the result just gone missing! This is weird. If I worked at any university and suddenly declared that I "lost" a couple of millions dollars, you can imagine how well would my carrier have progressed...

Yet, there seems to be no report of any investigation or follow up, just "We lost some data, sorry"

Best regards,
Stan (Heretic)

George Henderson said...

This does seem to sink the lipid hypothesis, and especially the idea that seed oils are healthier than animal fats. The data published in 1973 still showed the mortality, just not the "heart healthy" effects of the PUFA.
If you compare it with the Lyon diet heart trial, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the Standard Australian Diet of 1966 was as heart-healthy as the Mediterranean diet of 30 years later. I posted the comparison here, and asked "what will it take to convince some people?"

George Henderson said...

That is, I posted about it here: http://hopefulgeranium.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/the-results-show-that-omega-6-linoleic.html

Barry Groves said...

Hi Stan
Don't mind a quote on your blog at all.
Yes, there are certainly some questions left unanswered - perhaps even unasked, here. Despite what you say, a possible follow-up might be forthcoming.

Good blog. As I see it, the problem with many, if not all, of these dietary studies, is that they are seldom based on real life. And, with diet, it is next to impossible to increase one foodstuff without simultaneously reducing another food. So any result is immediately confounded: Is the end result caused be the reduction of the one or the increase of the other - or an amalgam of the two?

I am much more influenced by epidemiology. You are in NZ, so you will know of the Tokelau studies and what they tell us about health when a people change habitats from a very saturated fat (coconut) based diet on their south Pacific island to a more 'healthy' PUFA-rich oil and margarine Western diet in NZ, and their health declines.

The benefits of the saturated fat island diet are then confirmed when the islanders return to their traditional diet and their health improves.

It is studies like this, the Roseto study and the Irish Brothers study which I place more faith in. They are not the gold standard, Randomised, Controlled Studies (RCT) so beloved of the medical community, but you don't always need an RCT to see the truth. There has never been an RCT on the health merits of using a parachute when you jump out of an aircraft, but do we really need one?

Stan (Heretic) said...


If the parachute study were done by medical "scientists" they would have published that those thrown out of a plane without a parachute had lower risk. 8-:)

Nightingale said...

So now Kaiser Permanente has published a study telling breast cancer survivors to stay away from high-fat dairy products: http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/03/08/jnci.djt027.abstract?sid=59b4111e-d3cc-498c-ab8e-826d45e1541a


Barry Groves said...

I don't have access to the full paper; however, this is an odd one, Nightingale, in several respects.

Firstly, it is exactly contrary to all previous research which found that LOW-fat dairy increased cancer risk; HIGH-fat reduced it.

Secondly, this study was accepted for publication 14 months ago. Why was it not published until now?

Thirdly, food-frequency questionnaires on which it is based, are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable.

And lastly, I see that the purported increased breast cancer risk was not statistically significant.

Which all adds up to another mountain made out of a molehill - which really wasn't worth publishing.

Nightingale said...

Just finished a glorious article on the joys of eating fat, and had to share. From the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Let Them Eat Fat:"


Hilariously witty and true.

Barry Groves said...

Good one, Nightingale

Monica and I always have goose for Christmas and baste veges with the run-off fat. Any left - and there is a lot - is saved for frying and in cooking other foods. A 'low-fat' friend, now sadly departed, also had goose - but drained off and then gave us the fat (foolish woman!)

I did try turkey many years ago. It was dry and tasteless. I have avoided it since then.

Nightingale said...

I'm with you on turkey. I am from America (but of Italian descent), and I have never understood the obsession with turkey. I have had duck, but never goose. Now I am intrigued.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry, I've missed your blogs. Loved your books, glad I've found you atlast. I hear what you are saying but do you think with cancer and fats it's just that we should alter the balance if we have cancer and increase omega3 from fish oil/ flax oil and decrease saturated fat whilst eliminating all trans fat? I have to say from personal experience breakfasting on fish and scrambled eggs really helped my immune system but I am temper by Johanna Budwigs protocol using flax seed oil and quark, any comments? X

Barry Groves said...

Hi anonymous

Yes, I think that we should perhaps change fats - but not the way you think. It is the polyunsaturated fats we should beware of not the saturated fats. Trans-fats (which are ultimately man-made from polyunsaturated fats), have no place in a healthy diet.

The amount of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids we need is actually very small: about 2% of calorie intake altogether. In a 2,000 kcal diet, that is about a teaspoonful (5ml).

The omega-3 fatty acids our bodies need are EPA and DHA, found naturally in fish oils and animal brains. Not the ALA found in flaxseed oil. But these fatty acids are chemically unstable, so while enough is enough, too much can be dangerous.

Fish and scrambled eggs is a good way to start the day - and to get our omega-3 in the right amount, naturally.

You can read more about fats and cancer at "Polyunsaturated fats suppress the immune system" just below the graph on my http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/fats_and_cancer.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
Thanks for your reply. Interestingly, I Started taking fish oil and eating scrambled egg and fish for breakfast in autumn 2012 - I didn't have my flu shot and I can honestly say that despite lots of people around me at home and at work having coughs and colds I have not so far had any and it's already end of march. So for me that is proof that this is a great immune support. Also, a couple of days ago I had my annual ashma check up and my results were excellent, the doc said we are obviously managing very well on your current dosage- well I took myself off my ashma medication in January. Also my ca125 blood test has been coming down since I started this- it was 89 in September 2012 and this month it was 77 which is good news. I had only just started the budwig protocol one week before so it's more likely the fish/ eggs that have helped.my gyno suspected early ovca despite scans NED and wanted to do surgery to have a look but I declined. However I am interested in the Budwig protocol as it only uses cold pressced flaxseed oil added to quark or cottage cheese With ground flax seeds. Dr budwig was a biochemist who specialised in oils and fats and she proved that the combination of the sulpher from the cheese mixed with the flax oil led to the oxidation of cells to repair them. Have you looked in to this at all Barry?

Thanks and Happy Easter x

Barry Groves said...

Hi Anonymous

Yes, I have looked into the Budwig protocol, but it has some serious contradictions which don't fit with my philosophy.

For example, a Basic Rule with the Budwig anti cancer diet is "if God made it then its fine and try to eat it in the same form that God made it". So that would include poison ivy, for example, or Yew berries?

Okay, that might be facetious, but she also says "NO animal fats NO pork (pigs are the cleaners of the earth and their meat is loaded with toxins. ham, bacon, sausages, etc should be avoided)". In fact, animal fats are the healthiest, most stable and most like our own fats fats; cutting the fat off meat is not only stupid, but that would not be eating meat in the form that God made it.

And pigs are not only God-made, they are also NOT 'cleaners of the earth'. That's just nonsense. Pigs are the most widely used food animals on the planet - and very healthy if fed properly. The fact that they eat nuts and roots, which they find on or under the ground in their natural, woodland, environment, does not mean they eat toxic rubbish.

The only ham, bacon and sausages ever shown to be harmful (and then not unequivocally) are the ones made with profit margins as the main criterion. For example, Serrano ham, which I eat no end of, and which is an integral part of the real Mediterranean diet, is pork which has the moisture drawn out of it by osmosis to dry it. Like real pemmican, it will keep for years - and it contains no additives as the curing salts are only ever on the outside, and are washed off. It is supermarket ham and bacon which has been 'pumped' and is wet and slimy, which is not fit for human consumption. Joanna Budwig doesn't make the distinction.

Meat with its fat - whether fresh, dried or frozen - is entirely healthy. In fact, with our evolutionary background, that's what should form the basis of all our meals.

Low-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese and flaxseed oil (which has been 'modified' to lower its toxic erucic acid content), are not at all 'as God made them'. And as flaxseed oil is so unstable, and as low-fat dairy increases cancer risk, (see this article on low-fat dairy and cancer), why would anyone eat them? Particularly on an 'anti-cancer' diet.

Anonymous said...

Hi again, thanks for the wake-up call. I'm back on the fish and eggs now! I'll post again when I have me next tests in June

Anonymous said...

RIP Barry Groves

HS4 said...

I am deeply saddened by the death of Barry Groves in early May. My condolences to his family - may they remember his life, and work, as a blessing. RIP, Barry Groves

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Anonymous said...

For anyone who missed it, Barry Groves --writer of this excellent blog, plus other books and a great website [www.second-opinions.co.uk]-- passed away on April 29, 2013. May he rest in peace, and may we all take his lessons to heart. More and more it becomes clear to the masses that he was right all along.

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