Malhotra A, Redberg RF, Meier P. Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions. Br J Sports Med [Internet]. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine; 2017 Aug 1 [cited 2017 Nov 28];51(15):1111–2.
This peer-reviewed editorial, with what some would call a controversial title, was published in April, 2017 and has been widely reported on already. As I like to say, I’m not that smart and my ideas are not that unique :).
The piece is written by Dr. Aseem Malhotra (@DrAseemMalhotra), London-based cardiologist and a leading physician voice in challenging the paradigm of low-fat diets.
The piece is short enough that I don’t need to summarize it here. I have reviewed several of the papers cited, and Aseem relays his point of view and responses to critics in the attached podcast, which you can listen to here.
In a nutshell:
Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong.Malhotra A, Redberg RF, Meier P Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions Br J Sports Med 2017;51:1111-1112.
The idea to be put aside/exploded is the one that eating saturated fat coats arteries until they clog. Instead, inflammation creates plaques that rupture and cause blockages. Two very different processes.
- The piece is not advocating for a high saturated fat diet
- The piece is not advocating the abandonment of everything we’ve told has been healthy, it is adding evidence on what to focus on
- Brisk walking is called out (even though exercise has not been shown to reduce weight, it has a zillion other advantages)
- Impact of stress, and stress during childhood. This has also been well studied, and from what I can tell, underemphasized as an important cause of poor health, still.
- All foods with fat including ones with healthy fats have saturated fat
- The Standard American Diet (SAD) has most of its saturated fat coming from processed foods. This is bad.
- As has been pointed out many times, the evidence for eating a low-fat diet isn’t really there
As I looked around for opposing views, I found a well written piece that challenged the assumptions presented here, citing the same studies. Then as I got to the bottom of the piece I saw significant conflicts of interest. I’ll leave it at that.
As I have walked the aisles of my grocery store, I can see that our society has not caught up to the science. The piece and the studies it cites are worth a read.
In the meantime, I plan to also keep walking 🙂