On June 23rd, the cover of Time Magazine prominently featured two words: “Eat Butter.”
In an article titled, “Ending the War on Fat,” the venerable mainstream publication finally put to rest one of the most detrimental myths about health and nutrition – the myth that saturated fat is to blame for heart disease.
But what the magazine didn’t mention in this otherwise excellent article, was that Time played a big role in popularizing this deadly misconception in the first place!
The Seven Countries Study… or the 22 Countries Study?
In 1961, Time featured physiologist Ancel Keys on the cover, with an article about his Seven Countries Study, which compared heart disease mortality rates and fat consumption across seven countries. His comparison showed a “remarkable relationship.”
The countries with the highest fat intake had the highest levels of heart disease. The countries with the lowest fat intake had the lowest levels of heart disease.
At the time, Jacob Yerushalmy, a PhD statistician at the University of California at Berkeley, pointed out that we had fat consumption data in 22 countries. So why wasn’t it called “The 22-Country Study?”
It wasn’t called that, because Ancel Keys started with the conclusion. He cherry-picked the countries that matched his pre-conceived notion and threw out the ones that contradicted it. And most of them did! When all 22 countries were analyzed, the “remarkable relationship” remarkably disappeared.
In fact, the complete set of data actually suggested that those eating the MOST saturated animal fat had LOWER rates of heart disease!
Yet, despite the obvious flaws in his research, Ancel Keys’ study formed the basis of the “lipid hypothesis.” Unfortunately, the butter bashing and anti-saturated fat campaigns were not the only harmful dietary dictates perpetuated during this period.
The Rise of Sugars, Grains & Seed Oils (and the Decline of Public Health)
From the 1960s onward, the medical establishment, government health organizations and the processed food industry simultaneously urged the public to replace these wholesome, natural foods with high-carbohydrate, grain-based processed foods and industrially-produced seed and vegetable oils. They even began vigorous campaigns to steer people away from real butter and to replace it with deadly trans-fats – in the form of so-called “better-than-butter” spreads.
It wasn’t long before grocery store shelves were filled with low-fat and fat-free fake foods.
It also wasn’t long before the public health began to take a dramatic turn for the worse. Excess dietary sugar and carbohydrates along with omega-6 rich industrial seed oils are clearly implicated in insulin resistance, obesity and chronic inflammation – all of which increase your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other degenerative diseases.
It’s no wonder that the rates of obesity and disease began to skyrocket.
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