Nora Gedgaudas Enters Butter Verses Margarine Debate

Guest blogger: Nora Gedgaudas
Author of 
Primal Body, Primal Mind

So… margarine verses butter, eh?

Wow, this argument – at least within the realm of science – has been put to rest a LONG time ago now.

Hmmmm… where to begin? Well, for starters, those that eat margarine have fully twice the heart disease rate of butter eaters (Nutrition Week 3/22/91 21:12).

Saturated fat does NOT clog arteries

The notion that saturated fat somehow clogs the arteries is patently false. A good 80 per cent of what actually clogs arteries are rancid unsaturated/polyunsaturated fats and not either saturated fats or cholesterol (The Lancet-1994 344:1195).

Saturated fats (butter) win over trans-fats every time 

A comparison of the effects of trans-fats with the effects of naturally saturated fats, just for the heck of it:

  • Saturated fats (butter) actually raise HDL cholesterol (the so-called “good” cholesterol); trans-fatty acids (margarine) lower HDL cholesterol
  • Saturated fats (butter) lower the blood levels of the atherogenic lipoprotein (a); trans-fats raise the blood levels of lipoprotein
  • Saturated fats conserve and facilitate the good omega-3 fatty acids, while trans-fats cause the tissues to lose these omega-3 fatty acids
  • Saturated fats do not inhibit insulin binding; trans-fatty acids do inhibit insulin binding
  • Saturated fats are the normal fatty acids made by the body and do not interfere with enzyme functions such as the delta-6-desaturase, whereas trans-fatty acids are not made by the body and they interfere with many enzyme functions such as delta-6-desaturase
  • Some saturated fatty acids are used by the body to fight viruses, bacteria, yeasts and protozoa, and they support the immune system; trans-fats interfere with the function of the immune system

Cardiovascular disease has nothing to do with butter

Cardiovascular disease really never was a problem until we moved away from an approach to eating which incorporated natural fats (including butter, tallow and lard) and began adopting more grains, sugar and starches, refined vegetable oils, margarines and processed foods.

Saturated fat and cholesterol are NOT the enemy 

It is overwhelmingly clear from the literature that saturated fat and cholesterol are NOT the culprits in cardiovascular disease!

The following two meta-analysis studies pretty much squash this concern:

1) 350,000 subjects 

This study evaluated 21 studies involving nearly 350,000 subjects exploring “the evidence related to the association of dietary saturated fat with risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease in prospective epidemiologic studies.”

The results?

Authors concluded that, “A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of Coronary Heart Disease or Cardiovascular Disease” (including stroke).

These findings are also consistent with numerous other studies and findings, including the now famous Framingham Heart Study.

2) Framingham Heart Study

The following was quoted by the very director of this landmark study: “In Framingham, Massachusetts, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower people’s serum cholesterol. We found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories weighed the least and were the most physically active.” – From Archives of Internal Medicine, 1992, Dr. William Castelli, Director of the Framingham Study.

Furthermore, yet another cohort of this study famously stated:

“The diet-heart hypothesis (that suggests that high intake of fat and cholesterol causes heart disease) has been repeatedly shown to be wrong, and yet, for complicated reasons of pride, profit and prejudice, the hypothesis continues to be exploited by scientists, fund-raising enterprises, food companies, and even governmental agencies. The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century” – George V. Mann, M.D., formerly with the Framingham Project.

Additional statements such as the following have also been made by some of the most credible researchers in recent years: “Even though the focus of dietary recommendations is usually a reduction of saturated fat intake, no relation between saturated fat intake and risk of coronary heart disease was observed in the most informative prospective study to date.” – Walter Willett, M.D., 1990; Harvard University.

Also, “The commonly held belief that the best diet for prevention of coronary heart disease is a low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet is not supported by the available evidence from clinical trials.” – European Heart Journal, Volume 18, January 1997 Walter Willett, MD, PhD, is Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, one of the most respected nutritional researchers in the world, and head of two of the most famous ongoing studies of diet and disease ever undertaken.

Here’s what he said to Harvard University World Health News in an interview on March 29, 2000: “The relationship of fat intake to health is one of the areas that we have examined in detail over the last 20 years in our two large cohort studies: the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. We have found virtually no relationship between the percentage of calories from fat and any important health outcome.”

More about cholesterol?

Apart from what is already stated above, there was another recent meta-analysis study published–dubbed “The Norwegian HUNT 2 study.” This soundly puts to rest concerns regarding either dietary or serum cholesterol as any culprit in cardiovascular disease (including stroke):

Basically, the study reveals that women with high cholesterol live longer and suffer from fewer heart attacks and strokes than those with lower cholesterol! And men? Among the 24,000 or so men in HUNT 2, cholesterol showed a U-shaped curve in overall, cardiovascular and CHD mortality risk. The lowest risk for all these causes of death was seen in the 5.0-5.9 mmol/l category. Compared to those with serum cholesterol under 5.0, those in the 5.0-5.9 category enjoyed 23%, 20% and 6% RR reductions in overall, CVD and CHD death, respectively.

Prevailing Theories of Cardiovascular Disease

There are numerous prevailing theories surrounding what causes cardiovascular disease, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Cholesterol – DEBUNKED
  • Lipoprotein (a) (often elevated in CV disease – is related to excess insulin)
  • Saturated Fat – DEBUNKED
  • Nutrient deficiencies Vitamin D deficiency Magnesium deficiency Omega-3 deficiency Co-Q10 deficiency
  • Homocysteine elevation (methyl donor deficiencies: primarily B6, B12 and folic acid)
  • Metabolic Syndrome/Insulin resistance – Glycation, AGE’s and RAGE’s
  • Obesity/Leptin resistance
  • Depressed Testosterone (men) or Estrogen (women) (due to metabolic syndrome)
  • Inflammation: C-Reactive protein (CRP) Chronic infection Autoimmune processes H-Pylori
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress/cortisol. Butter contains butyric acid, a short chained fat that cannot be readily stored as body fat but which is THE preferred fuel for the cells of the colon/large intestine. Also, butter is made by nature, where margarine is essentially made in a test tube.

I hope all this helps!
Much love to you, Eloise.

LeeNora Gedgaudas Enters Butter Verses Margarine Debate

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