Investigative journalist Nina Teicholz has been busy. Last week, she addressed the crazy notions presented in the new documentary, “What the Health.” This week, she’s taking the American Heart Association (AHA) head on after the organization released a “presidential advisory” warning consumers about the dangers of saturated fats in butter, steak and coconut oil.
In a recent column titled, “Don’t believe the AHA — butter, steak and coconut oil aren’t likely to kill you,” Teicholz writes, “To me, the AHA advisory released in June was mystifying. How could its scientists examine the same studies as I had, yet double down on an anti-saturated fat position? With a cardiologist, I went through the nuts and bolts of the AHA paper, and came to this conclusion: It was likely driven less by sound science than by longstanding bias, commercial interests and the AHA’s need to reaffirm nearly 70 years of its ‘heart healthy’ advice.”
The AHA first launched its crusade against saturated fats and cholesterol in 1961, and Teicholz says this recommendation was made without scientific studies and in contradiction to trials that found no risks of saturated fats when compared to vegetable oils.
In fact, she says of nine separate reviews, no study could find evidence in the data that saturated fats had an effect on cardiovascular mortality or total mortality.
The author of “The Big Fat Surprise — Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” writes, “That the AHA should be so resistant to updating its view of saturated fats, despite so much legitimate science, could simply reflect the association’s unwavering devotion to a belief it has promoted for decades. Or it could be due to its significant, longstanding reliance on funding from interested industries, such as the vegetable-oil manufacturer Procter & Gamble, maker of Crisco, which virtually launched the AHA as a nation-wide powerhouse in 1948 by designating the then-needy group to receive all the funds from a radio contest it sponsored (about $17 million).
“More recently, Bayer, the owner of LibertyLink soybeans, pledged up to $500,000 to the AHA, perhaps encouraged by the group’s continued support of soybean oil, by far the dominant ingredient in the ‘vegetable oil’ consumed in America today.”
Her post, which was co-written with cardiologist Eric Thorn, was featured in the Los Angeles Times and Medscape and has garnered plenty of discussion in the comments section. Some were very supportive and understand how meat, eggs and dairy are important components of a healthy diet.
However, others remain skeptical. One reader called Teicholz “incredibly irresponsible” for writing this column, asking her how she sleeps at night when this is a matter of life and death. I’m quite certain Teicholz sleeps just fine knowing that she is fueling her body with the best nutrition possible and satisfied with the work she is doing to debunk the information presented by AHA and other organizations.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.