Saturday, February 9, 2013

Make Believe?

Imagine you’ve got a group of men who’ve survived a heart attack. They agree to participate in a four-year-long experiment where they’re placed onto one of two diets: Diet One is a “Mediterranean Diet” high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, and poultry, along with cholesterol-rich read meat and full-fat dairy products; Diet Two is the “Prudent Diet” recommended by the American Heart Association (and, not coincidently, by most physicians), focusing on restricting saturated fat intake. What result might you expect?

Turns out that the men restricting their cholesterol and saturated fat intake had a greater than 50 percent higher rate of fatal heart attacks and 70 percent more cardiac events! And the total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL levels of both groups were almost identical.

Perhaps even more interesting is that despite the fact that this research was published in Circulation * (the American Heart Association journal, no less!) over a decade ago, we’re still being told to restrict our intake of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat!
* Michel de Lorgeril, et al., “Mediterranean Diet,Traditional Risk Factors, and the Rate of Cardiovascular Complications afterMyocardial Infarction: Final Report of the Lyon Diet Heart Study.”


  1. Great post, thanks for sharing... more people should know about this!

  2. I believe there was an important intervention in this Med diet
    - it was lower in total PUFA, but higher in omega-3 and lower in omega 6 than the "prudent" (so called) diet.
    it used small amounts of canola oil whereas the prudent diet used larger amounts of safflower oil or similar.

    I referred to it here in the context of the recent Sydney Diet Heart Study re-analysis also showing that omega-6 oils are deadly.

    1. Thanks, George. It's quite likely. Unfortunately, these studies have so many confounding (uncontrolled) variables that it's impossible to attibute specific results to specific factors. One thing that can be said is that total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels were NOT related to fatal heart attacks or total cardiac events.