A new way of looking at unhealthy foods shows that red meat, dairy and cheese, or other foods with high levels of unsaturated fat, may not actually cause heart problems as once previously believed.
In the recently published book called The Big Fat Surprise, investigative reporter Nina Teicholz claims high cholesterol foods previously thought to cause heart failure may not be all that bad. She says the science behind this thinking just isn’t there.
“When the dietary recommendations came out in 1961 saying that saturated fat causes heart disease, that was based on total cholesterol,” Teicholz said. “But our understanding of heart disease has evolved enormously.”
During the 1950s to the 1960s, scientist Dr. Ancel Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota conducted the famous “Seven Countries” study. The study looked at over 13,00o men and noticed a correlation between cholesterol and heart problems. However, the study might not have been looking at the whole picture.
“There were other ideas at the time, but Ancel Keys got that idea and planted it into the American Heart Association… and it’s like, the rest is really history from there,” Teicholz said. “It had never been tested.”
Although the study looked at people from seven countries from across the globe, critics have pointed out that Dr. Ancel Keys left out Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany. All three are countries that are known for their fatty foods, yet do not have high rates of heart problems.
Nina Teicholz and other critics have come to the conclusion that the science behind condemning fatty foods just isn’t right, and that the world has come a long way since they were first discouraged. However, Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, and others aren’t so sure Teicholz is right, and warn readers not to make any big diet changes just yet.
Although cholesterol might be the only cause of heart problems, it is definitely not healthy and will contribute to heart issues.
“It’s like an orchestra — you have to have all the pieces there and have to have it in the right balance,” Willett explained. “Not one factor is going to solve your health issues.”