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The Saturated Fat Myth Debunked in Two Minutes and Thirty Five Seconds


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From the documentary Fat Head

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  1. I just can’t believe this, my husband and I always ate healthy but he liked his desserts and got a bit fat so decided to do the DR Atkins diet. His doctor told him heart, cholestrol levels and blood pressure were fine! On the fat diet for two months, heart started behaving badly, cholestrol levels high and blood pressure up! Back on our normal food and no problems but took 6 mnths to a year to settle down.
    So who is right and who is wrong?

    • Many people do the Atkin’s diet improperly, eating way too much fats, through excessive consumption of cheese, butter, bacon, cream and sour cream and fatty meats. Calling the diet “the fat” diet leads me to believe this may have ben the case. The actual Atkin’s diet is quite difficult to follow when you begin adding back the healthy carbohydrates a few grams a week at a time. As we age, we lose muscle unless we do weight training to maintain it. Even a healthy diet won’t stop that with out exercise. I would also like to say that any single eating plan may not be right for every single person. If it has been followed correctly, and for a reasonable time period, and it doesn’t work, then do something else and see if it works better. Good luck and best health to you and your husband.

      • I agree with this – depends on the person. Also Atkins does not recommend eating lots of fats for 2 months. Rather he wants you to eat more low glycaemic vegetables and good protein. And no-one ever mentions his insistence on exercise to accompany the diet. His pyramid is protein, vegetables, some fruit and some low-G carbs. No white refined anything.

  2. Claiming that fruit is bad for humans is not silly. Just because it comes from trees and is seen as ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it should be consumed all the time. Do you know what else occurs naturally? Petroleum and arsenic. Fruit has a lot of great qualities but the fructose is not such a good thing. If your diet contained absolutely no fructose from other sources, then eating fruit regularly would not be a concern. But so many foods we eat today have sugar added to them, so eating fructose filled fruit is just adding to the over consumption of fructose.
    I read an e-book by Sarah Wilson called ‘I Quit Sugar’ and it was very informative and eye opening. I recommend it highly 🙂

    • jasmine, good point. also the fruit we are eating today is not the same. due to selective breeding, much higher fructose. and certaainly wasnt consumes in smoothies, juices, desserts, for breakfast…

  3. That’s a huge exaggeration. I’ve read Harpending’s book, and it does not at all suggest we’re not similar genetically to our Paleolithic ancestors. It does suggest that more genetic changes – some of them quite significant – have occurred over the last 10,000 years than previously believed. That’s not the same as saying we’re “not much like Paleolithic humans”.

    We do not know with certainty that our Paleolithic ancestors ate a lot of nuts. We don’t, in fact, know much of anything with certainty about what they ate. Read this: http://huntgatherlove.com/content/do-we-know-what-paleolithic-humans-ate.

  4. Your article makes so many assumptions I would be here all night addressing them. But for startrrs you muddy the water from the beginning by moving between “toxin IN grains” and “grains are toxins” as if those two statements are equivalent, they are not. And your fructose stance is just plain wrong. To claim that fruit is bad for you is just silly.



  5. That’s called moving the goal posts. Quantity of grain consumption is a different question than “did we or didn’t we”, which what we were discussing.

    So are you anticarb or antigrain?

    • I’m not anti-anything. I’ve pointed out in other articles (see: http://chriskresser.com/9-steps-to-perfect-health-1-dont-eat-toxins) that grains have food toxins in them that inhibit nutrient absorption and damage the gut. In some cases, properly preparing grains (i.e. soaking, fermenting, sprouting) before consuming them can significantly decrease levels of those toxins.

      Quantity makes all the difference in the world. Humans are able to deal with small amounts of the toxins in grains, which is why traditional cultures in the last 300 generations that prepared them properly were able to eat them without problems. But today, almost no one in the west goes through these important steps.

  6. I put this to my Anthropology Professor last night and asked directly about the earliest hard evidence of grain consumption in man. It apparently goes back much further than even I thought to australopithecus boisei at about 2.5 million years ago. So grain has been with us since the beginning.

  7. Um, grains have always been in our diet. That grain consumption is new is false. Take an anthropology course. And just Keys left out data, this video leaves out data about cultures that consume large amounts of grain without obesity or adverse health effects.

    • Please provide support for the statement “grains have always been in our diet”. I’ve read several anthropology texts, and I’ve never seen such a statement.

  8. Don’t we have layers of saturated fat under our skins to keep us warm in the winter months?

  9. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for your articles and podcast.

    On this topic, I thought you might be interested in a Review appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 2010:

    “Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease”


    Thanks again,
    Tim Brown

    • Thanks, Tim. I’ve seen that review and I wrote about it in my heart disease series. I’m generally not a fan of meta-analyses, but this one certainly confirms what other individual, well-controlled trials have shown. Krauss has done some great work.

  10. RE: z. craig…

    The prologue isn’t particularly specious, just incomplete.

    Anthropological records of human remains show that pre agrarian hunter gatherers were taller, had fewer or no teeth cavities, lower infant mortality, no cancer etc. Their low life expectancy was because they mostly died of trauma (then subsequent infection)… predation, conflict with other humans.

    We do not live longer because of a change in diet, we live longer because 1) sanitation, 2) penicillin, 3) drop in crime.

  11. So-called “unhealthy” cholesterol levels, by which I assume you mean high total cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol, have a very weak association with heart disease.

    What matters much more is triglycerides, HDL and LDL particle size. And guess what? Saturated fat increases HDL, decreases triglycerides and promotes large, buoyant LDL (which does not cause heart disease).

    See these videos for more info.

    Numerous studies have been published in recent years exonerating saturated fat in the pathogenesis of heart disease. You can read about one of them here.

  12. don’t believe THEM and also approach this blog skeptically as well…

    i would love to believe this…but this argument is flawed.

    the prologue is particularly specious.
    think for a moment……
    in terms of human history, when humans did not eat grains and vegetable oils, etc. human beings lived half as long or less.
    we live longer now, at an unpredicted rate of longevity. cures for diseases are a cause, as is awareness in food groups….and a skeptical approach to everything…including skeptic blogs.

    my personal experience was that i lowered my saturated fat intake and my cholesterol level went from an unhealthy level to a healthy level. saturate fat intake was the only thing i changed in my life, and before and after, my weight and exercise regimen stayed the same.

    • Your post contains a lot of assumptions that you need to challenge… The first is that humans lived half as long.

      If you go and look at the paleontological and fossil records, you will find that barring death from disease, predator, or accident it was not uncommon for pre-historic man to live into his 90s.

      I would really like you to introduce me to the next 180 year-old you meet.

    • Perhaps we are living longer now than 100 years ago.

      Today I can have a MICA Ambulance (Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance – very specialised paramedics and equipment) to my door in 5 to 10 min in case of a medical emergency to stop me from dying, or to restart my stopped heart – 100 years ago I would have died if my heart stopped.

      Many medical advances in emergency medicine means people seriously hurt from random accidents to dangerous infections can be treated. New understanding on how infections are spread also help lower mortality rates etc etc etc.

      Does this mean eating grains and vegetable oils is the key to longevity?

      Your saturated fat consumption when down along with cholesterol?
      Saturated fat from what source ? (pizza?, hotdogs?, hamburgers? – or REAL foods like butter, meat fat and you previously never ate takeaway foods etc)
      Cholesterol level (meaning what? total cholesterol? – What about HDL?, LDL?, triglyceride?

      More information required

  13. I bought “Fat Head” just so I could show it to as many family members as possible!  It does the trick.
    Your blog is wonderful.

  14. This little video is the tip of the iceberg. The fat-heart disease connection via the cholesterol “problem” is one in several campaigns of mass deception. The goal? Maybe to sell billions of dollars worth of cholesterol drugs along with diagnostic “services” and so forth. Today’s processed foods, bad fats, sugar and nutrient-depleted diets result in damaged arteries. Once damaged, these arteries crack and hemorrhage, which the body attempts to repair with cholesterol as a “patch.” But to blame cholesterol is to kill the messenger. It’s a shame that money and politics rule our nation’s medical system because the real people who suffer are our friends and relatives. This cholesterol scam is analogous to the fluoride scam. It’s not that we lack the science to prove the falsehoods, it’s that we lack the media oversight and there is no separation between politics and big pharma money. In the simplest of terms, natural fats are good while those created by scientists in a lab are bad.

  15. Yeah, it’s great ironic humor, and he manages to communicate the essence of the issue very effectively.
    Also, the faux 1950s aesthetic is awesome.