Cholesterol is Bad. Isn’t it ? – Part 2

Please go to Part 1 of the post if you have not already read it.

How does Cholesterol cause Heart Disease or Stroke?

There is a lot of history as to how the official line came to be the above mentioned, but it is way too much digression for us. Based on a few different pieces of research the following has been hypothesised.

The so-called “Diet Heart Hypothesis  or “The Cholesterol Hypothesis” is (as well articulated by Malcolm Kendrick):

“If you eat too much food containing cholesterol and/or saturated fat, the level of cholesterol in your blood will rise. The excess cholesterol will be deposited in artery walls, causing them to thicken and narrow. In time this will block blood supply to the heart (and other organs) causing a heart attack, or stroke.”

For the purposes of this Blog, we will use the term CVD (Cardio-Vascular Disease) to refer to heart attack and stroke.

So, if we split this into two parts

  1. Does an increased consumption of Saturated Fat result in increased heart disease?
  2. Does an increased level of Cholesterol create a greater CVD risk?

Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

The original premise that increased saturated fat causes heart disease was based on a famous study known as the “Seven Countries Study”  (initially 6) by Ancel Keys. The following picture shows the logic from Ancel Keys.

ancel keys 6 countries study

But it appears that Mr. Keys has been selective and a bit dis-ingenuous. He only selected countries that seem to fit his pre-conceived conclusions. If the study was extended to all the countries it will look like this:


The data is all over the place.

Malcolm kendrick looked at some more countries in detail and this is what he has put together and the following conclusions can be drawn

Countries with the highest saturated consumption has the lowest mortality rate and vice-versa.

kendrick - highsatfatcountries kendrick - lowsatfatcountries

There is still a raging argument around this between CPs and CSs but the tide seems to be turning towards CSs.

There are many more examples but the point has been made, I think.

Does eating more fat reduce the risk of heart disease. I don’t think so. If you have not changed other aspects of Diet and Lifestyle much then perhaps not – at least not significantly.

There are perhaps good reasons why the above graphs look the way they are and this may have nothing to do with saturated fat. It could be due to lower consumption of processed foods and sugars or something else like stress etc.

continued in part 3



One comment

  • Charan Sohanpaul

    Hi Ramki,

    I just wanted to say how wonderful and very useful your blog is for de-bunking myths and presenting informative, useful information. I am on low carb high fat diest which is very enjoyable! Possibly too much fat…

    I wondered what your thoughts are on agave and maple syrup which are supposed to be low GI and if I have them with yoghurt is this ok? I have a sweet tooth and also eat fruit but love the extra sweet taste these syrups provide. I also wanted to know what your thoughts are on Aryvedic body types and diet recommendations found there.
    Please continue with this wonderful blog.



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