The Margarine vs. Butter Debacle

The controversy regarding butter, margarine, vegetable oils, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats, and cardiovascular disease has raged since the 1950’s. We’ve always been taught the diet-heart hypothesis that suggests that saturated fat intake raises serum cholesterol which in turn leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease. We’ve also been led to believe that consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils is “cardio-protective” and lowers our cholesterol levels as well as our disease risk. Based on the work of a number of researchers and physicians who are thought-leaders and pioneers in the new, evolving fields of nutrition, metabolism, and biochemistry, the doctrine we have adhered to for almost 70 years may be ALL WRONG!

At the forefront of the move to clarify what we should and shouldn’t be eating, Cate Shanahan, M.D. has recently published a most provocative poston this topic. The author of “Deep Nutrition”, Cate has worked extensively in the field as a clinician, professional sports team physician, and speaker. Her insights into the impact of nutrition on epigenetics, and her study of culture and food around the world are perhaps unparalleled.

I’m frequently met with skepticism when I present on the saturated/polyunsaturated misunderstanding we’ve all been brainwashed to believe. In fact, I often discuss in my presentations that I had to hear this new information about 37 times before I believed it. But I did the diligence and reviewed the studies and came to my own conclusion: Dr. Cate and many of her colleagues are right. And she says it better than I ever will. It is entirely worth your time to read her blog post on this topic, and perhaps to study and ponder some of the associated data. There have been a number of authors and speakers who have shared Dr. Shanahan’s views over the past several years, but with new data, she may have done one of the best jobs of explaining how the misconceptions over fats and health came to be public as well as medical policy. In a gutsy move, Dr. Cate puts her neck out there, challenging her fellow physicians to get up to speed with this knowledge and also going up against Harvard Medical School to do same.

If you just can’t manage to read her post, I’ll offer up a very brief synopsis. The original research upon which all our fat/heart health practices were based was not only flawed, there were erroneous assumptions made and certain data was either inadvertently, or intentionally, withheld from the report of findings. Trans fat-rich margarine was used instead of butter in one of the major studies, thus giving butter an unfair bad rap, and glorifying vegetable oils, which are now shown to cause immediate and rampant inflammation, particularly in our blood vessels, upon ingestion. An almost conspiracy-level agenda between several initial researchers, the government, and the food industry has unfortunately led to the diminishment of health in America, and now the rest of the world due to “Westernization”. If you want more information, don’t hesitate to contact me personally and I can steer you toward a number of excellent books and articles.

What should we do? Discontinue your consumption of all industrial seed oils such as canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc. And guess what, almost all processed food is filled with this garbage. Instead utilize monounsaturated olive oil and avocado oil, and saturated fats from coconut, lard, butter, and whole-fat dairy. Health is always a by-product of many practices, including our food choices, stress management, activity, sleep, and others. This post won’t get into all of that, but will hopefully get you headed in the right direction on this very important macronutrient: fat.

In the future we’ll look at some of the other hot, and radically changing, topics such as carbohydrate and protein intake, metabolism, hormones, and the “new medicine” which is effectively treating, and in many cases curing, lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, etc. through nutrition and lifestyle. Don’t just take my word for it, take Dr. Cate’s!

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