Hey, Mothers: Saturated Fat and “Bad” Cholesterol; Off the Hook

So, a happy special day to all you mothers out there. None of us would be here without you.

Just a brief note before heading off to visit my own mom and family, and what better gift to you all than to let you know that the decades long scam to implicate saturated fat and cholesterol — such that drug companies can make big bucks selling you drugs to combat nature, multi-national BigAgra can make big bucks growing and selling unnatural, crap commodities, and processed "food" giants can make big bucks manufacturing and selling crap-in-a-box, calling it wholesome and healthy — maybe just might be coming to an end.

Now, even someone as mainstream as Dr. Andrew Weil is singing a different tune.

You’re correct that my thinking on saturated fat has evolved. One catalyst was a scientific analysis of 21 earlier studies, which showed "no significant evidence" that saturated fat in the diet is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. The 21 studies analyzed included nearly 348,000 participants, most of whom were healthy when they were enrolled. They were followed for five to 23 years, during which 11,000 developed heart disease or had a stroke. Looking back at the dietary information collected from these thousands of participants, the investigators found no difference in the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or coronary vascular disease between those individuals with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat. This goes completely against the conventional medical wisdom of the past 40 years. It now appears that many studies used to support the low-fat recommendation had serious flaws.

Yea, and who has been saying that forever? Lots of us lowly bloggers, that’s who. The article isn’t perfect, as you’ll see toward the end of it, but I hate to bash a serious step in the right direction, so I’ll just leave it at that.

The next article is the sort of thing I’m seeing more and more, chipping away at the cholesterol con bit by bit. In ScienceDaily‘Bad’ Cholesterol Not as Bad as People Think, Study Shows.

The so-called "bad cholesterol" — low-density lipoprotein commonly called LDL — may not be so bad after all, shows a Texas A&M University study that casts new light on the cholesterol debate, particularly among adults who exercise.

Steve Riechman, a researcher in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, says the study reveals that LDL is not the evil Darth Vader of health it has been made out to be in recent years and that new attitudes need to be adopted in regards to the substance. His work, with help from colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, Kent State University, the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, is published in the Journal of Gerontology.

Riechman and colleagues examined 52 adults from ages to 60 to 69 who were in generally good health but not physically active, and none of them were participating in a training program. The study showed that after fairly vigorous workouts, participants who had gained the most muscle mass also had the highest levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, "a very unexpected result and one that surprised us." …

"LDL serves a very useful purpose. It acts as a warning sign that something is wrong and it signals the body to these warning signs. It does its job the way it is supposed to.

"People often say, ‘I want to get rid of all my bad (LDL) cholesterol,’ but the fact is, if you did so, you would die," the Texas A&M professor adds. "Everyone needs a certain amount of both LDL and HDL in their bodies. We need to change this idea of LDL always being the evil thing — we all need it, and we need it to do its job."

It doesn’t surprise me and it shouldn’t surprise you. The notion that LDL is in any way a problem is rather like concluding that police are the cause of crime, since they always seem to show up at the scene. No, what’s happening is that other dietary factors, such as replacing saturated fats and cholesterol laden foods with "fortified" crap-in-a-box, jacks up inflammatory factors and the LDL is simply there to repair the damage. The additional problem is that the damage is so chronic that LDL sits around too long, becoming oxidized.

So there, mothers. Have your sons & daughters treat you to a nice big steak, chock full of saturated fat and cholesterol. Resolve to stop starving yourself on rabbit food and eat luxuriously and healthfully, just as nature intended.

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, lifestyle...to philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. Stabby on May 8, 2011 at 12:08

    Watch the dieticians reluctantly admit that LDL isn’t death-in-a-lipoprotein but still maintain that saturated fat kills you dead.

    • Jamie on May 8, 2011 at 13:05

      Here’s how it will work with the dietitians Stabby. If we look at low carb, the Dt’s will rarely say that eating low carb is advantageous, but will suggest that people eat LOW GI. Thing is, you can’t eat properly low GI/GL by definition without going low carb. When it comes to fat, they will just simply step away from it and start focusing on whole foods &/or emphasise the protein aspect of it. E.g. they will simply suggest that eggs are a good high protein food, and ignore the previous conventional BS about them being high in SFA. Same with meat. They will never admit anything, just go quiet on particularly issues and find other ways to promote it.

      • Stabby on May 8, 2011 at 16:15

        Ah! I never thought of it like that before. Completely ignoring your critics works both ways.

      • Barb on May 8, 2011 at 18:04

        Actually, I am a Nutritionist who places people on Paleo style diets. I intentionally call these diets “Low GI” or “Insulin Reducing Diets”. The reason for this is that if I called them a “low carb diet” or a “Paleo/Primal diet”, my clients, their friends, families and doctors would all scream “FAD DIET!!!”. And that would be the end of them taking me seriously. That is an unfortunate truth.

        However, the title, “Low GI” or “Insulin Reducing Diet” meets with approval from clients and their doctors alike, so, “what’s in a name” is very important.

        It’s pretty sad when I practically have to trick people into doing the right right thing…

      • J. Stanton on May 8, 2011 at 18:53

        “You can’t eat properly low GI/GL by definition without going low carb.”

        Exactly! Fat is the primary driver of glycemic index (and glycemic load), due in large part to its effect on gastric emptying and transit. I’ve talked about this at length before.

        Trying to reduce GI and GL by eating “complex carbohydrates” is like trying to reduce lung cancer by smoking “low-tar” cigarettes. If you want lower glycemic load, eat less glucose.


      • Barb on May 8, 2011 at 22:33

        brownie point accepted. Thank you.

  2. Tim Huntley on May 8, 2011 at 12:17

    This is excellent Richard – Especially since the PA I see is studying with Dr. Weil. Hopefully this will improve the likely futures conversations we will have about saturated fat (given that we haven’t seen eye-to-eye on this topic).


  3. johnmc on May 8, 2011 at 12:21

    Reading this has only reminded me of my disdain for whichever piece of shit doctor decided to put my maternal grandmother on a fucking statin. She is fading fast and is no more than a mental shell of her formally brilliant self. I’m only grateful that my own mother refused to take it when her doctor prescribed one.

  4. Jan on May 8, 2011 at 12:54

    That is exactly what my husband and teenage son are making me tonight – a lovely grass-finished filet, along with grilled prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and a wedge salad topped with a homemade mayonnaise-based salad dressing. And bacon.

    Sure as hell beats grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast and a salad covered with some mess of a fat-free “salad dressing” any day of the week.

  5. Be on May 8, 2011 at 12:59

    It is really encouraging that even Dr. Weil is coming around. But I have to wonder if he read his own article. How can he conclude by suggesting we “Continue to emphasize fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limit sweeteners and other high-glycemic-load carbs.”?

    • TandooriChicken on May 8, 2011 at 14:56

      Like I mentioned to Richard in the livestrong post, I think he’s trying to let his readers down gently, not body-slam them into a philosophical brick wall. This is the best way to get most people to turn around – educate them about one new unfamiliar or uncomfortable thing at a time, without forcing them to leave their comfort zone all at once.

  6. Laurie D. on May 8, 2011 at 13:56

    This mother is having halibut soaked in butter sauce tonight. What really pisses me off is that I spent a good portion of my adulthood listening to the idiots who spouted SAD nonsense. I’d love to get those years back now, but at least my daughter will know better.

  7. Kris @ Health Blog on May 8, 2011 at 14:31

    Great post, it’s unfortunate that most nutritionists don’t seem to be keeping up with the latest studies.

    Right now, nutritionists as academics have about the same amount of respect as politicians in my view, which is just about none.

    • Barb on May 8, 2011 at 18:17

      Can we please try to not paint most Nutritionists with the same brush?? It is bad enough being ostracized by my peers in the Nutrition field. I would rather not be stereotyped by the Paleo/Primal/Low Carb crowd as well.

      I am a Nutritionist who pushes the Paleo diet as well as following it closely myself. In today’s carb addicted, mislead society, you can imagine just how easy that is, and how well my advice goes over a lot of times. I have been screamed at by doctors, sworn at by my peers and have been threatened with lawsuits by well meaning family members of clients. Believe me, this Nutritionist is “taking one for the team”…

      I have learned to view ALL research pretty much with a critical eye and guard against only reading or agreeing with the studies that coincide with my beliefs. This is harder to actually do than most people would think as it defies human nature.

      Hopefully someday I can only hope to earn your respect…

      • Richard Nikoley on May 8, 2011 at 18:30

        Please, Barb. “Earn your respect?”


        I don’t even _know_ you. If you are not engaging in the lethal practices mandated by the vast majority of your profession, fine.

        You want a brownie point for not killing people, fine.

      • tth on May 9, 2011 at 00:52


        As a registered Nutritionist you are at the forefront of a huge cultural/behavioral battle. Your testimony says it all.

        Your clients are lucky to benefit from your objectivist and balanced approach. You deserve a nice pat and friendly hug for all the good you bring around you.

        Keep going. You are part of the rEvolution crowd.

        Thank You.

      • Sean on May 9, 2011 at 01:28

        I make fun of doctors all the time, I know a lot of them (in my extended family, especially) to be dogmatic and arrogant, a bad combination. But I don’t think all doctors are like that, by any means, and the blogosphere has tons of excellent examples.

  8. Karen on May 8, 2011 at 14:40

    Weil remains on the board of PCRM, the extreme animal rights /vegan PETA front group that poses as a legitimate medical organization. Wonder how he reconciles his new attitude toward saturated fat with the PCRM ongoing jihad against anyone eating any animal products.

    • TandooriChicken on May 8, 2011 at 14:57

      I think they might be keeping him on board just to give the appearance of being a more balanced organization.

      • Karen on May 8, 2011 at 15:05

        PCRM definitely wants more mainstream docs like Weil to lend credence to their extreme organization. The better question is why is Weil still hooked up with them? Hmmm…what are the reasons most people do things? Love…money…money…checks that clear, etc.

  9. 05/09/11 – I’m Back….. on May 8, 2011 at 18:22

    […] Hey Mothers: Saturated Fat and Bad Cholesterol; Off The Hook – Free The Animal […]

  10. DRK on May 8, 2011 at 18:29

    Laws are the cause of crime, and the police are feckless.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 8, 2011 at 18:33

      You are absolutely right DRK and a I’ve said for decades: more laws, more crime.

      But too fine a point for this post.

  11. Saigh on May 8, 2011 at 21:20

    “The study showed that after fairly vigorous workouts, participants who had gained the most muscle mass also had the highest levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, “a very unexpected result and one that surprised us.” …”

    Oh, I wish that were true for me. My LDL is high (this is before I got as low carb as I am now, my schedule makes the tests they’ve ordered since then a bit difficult to do without fasting while I’m awake, which no one anywhere near me would want me to do), but even my conventional doctors don’t feel a need to do anything at this point (other than suggest a high carb, low fat diet) as my HDL is so high as well. Sadly, this is NOT adding up to me having much ability to put on mass…try though I do. (admittedly, at nearly 50 I’m far buffer than it was back in my low-fat or, especially, low-fat vegetarian youth…it’s just that I want more!).

    I wonder if the fitness industry at large will ever catch on to this, now that we actually have “names” like Weil copping to it. As a personal trainer I get rather sick of having to give, well, wrong answers on any test on nutrition that I take and I’m probably going to run out of CEU classes that are not focused on nutrition before they ever get off the low-fat bandwagon. And I think those classes will make me bash my head in.

  12. George Phillips on May 9, 2011 at 00:52

    Hi Mr Nikoley, just calling from UK to say “Thank You” for making our Monday morning with this blog post.

    Its been hard for us to mentally overcome the constant brain(fat)washing of ‘modern nutrition’, even though our bodies have responded so well to to the ‘call of the wild’ from generous informed bloggers like yourself.

    (sorry ; image just then of you, standing in the river, as a hairy, Keyes bashin’, John the Baptist!)

    Anyway my wife has just flagged this post to our son……mother’s love!

    Thanks again.

    Regards, George

  13. Saturated fat is inflammatory? Say it isn't so! | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page on May 9, 2011 at 01:14

    […] Try this antidote: Hey, Mothers: Saturated Fat and “Bad” Cholesterol; Off the Hook | Free The Animal activate the rhythm, the rhythm that has always been within Reply With Quote   […]

  14. Kim C. on May 9, 2011 at 05:50

    Thanks, Richard! Glad to see things SLOWLY moving in the right direction as far as the mainstream goes.

    As for my Mother’s Day dinner, it was grass-fed burgers fried in bacon grease, with homemade sweet potato chips (baked in coconut oil), homemade sauerkraut and pickles. My 16 month old is thriving on his high sat. fat diet, btw.

  15. Bushrat on May 9, 2011 at 23:53

    I’m going to guess that the study that Weil is talking about was mentioned here:

  16. Liz Downunder on May 9, 2011 at 17:01

    My Mothers Day celebration included sharing a HUGE serving of bacon and eggs with my two young sons (who were fighting over who got the most bacon fat).

  17. Denise on May 9, 2011 at 19:59

    Right – but Dr. Weil also recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories, noting these foods are not the best for us, and he recommends fish or skinless poultry, not red meat.

  18. Bushrat on May 9, 2011 at 23:53

    Hey Richard, are my comments being caught in moderation again?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 11, 2011 at 16:37

      Unfortunately yes, Bushrat. You or your ip are on the moderation list, ban list or anything, cause I’ve checked. And there is no white list capability otherwise id put you in there. Near as I can figure is your ip group is treated as suspicious because there are lots of spammers in it. Luckily, your comments don’t go into the trash folder along with the hundreds of actual spam that comes in, but into the moderation queue, so I approve as soon as I see you on there, along with all the pongbacks from legit paleo sites.

      • Richard Nikoley on May 11, 2011 at 16:38

        … You or your ip are NOT on the moderation or ban list.

  19. 05/11/2011 » CrossFit Mount Laurel - on May 10, 2011 at 18:15

    […] “Saturated fat off the hook”, Free the Animal […]

  20. Mick on May 12, 2011 at 13:52

    speaking of mothers and drug companies scams, have you seen this? the government-funded idiocy never stops:

    Babies given anti-obesity drugs in the womb


    Prof Norman, a representative of leading pregnancy charity Tommy’s, said: “Research has shown that babies born to obese mothers are at increased risk of complications in later life.

    “Obese pregnant women have high levels of glucose and Metformin is proven to reduce glucose.

    “We have to be careful with the use of drugs in pregnancy but we already know that it is safe to give expectant mothers.

    “It is likely that Metformin will prevent babies from getting too big and, putting all these factors together, I am confident that the benefits will outweigh the risks.”

    A pill that lowers glucose for people who are fat because they overeat glucose? LOL!

    oh wait… this isn’t an April’s fool, they’re serious.

  21. Paleo Josh on May 17, 2011 at 16:46

    I have been having this exact conversation with my aunt (an ex nurse no it all) who thinks all fat is bad, but is fat her self. Help sell it!

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