But­ter: Bad or good?

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Re: “But­ter, steak and co­conut oil won’t kill you,” Opin­ion, July 23

The oped by Nina Te­i­cholz was mis­lead­ing and full of con­tra­dic­tions, but what can one ex­pect from the au­thor of a book ti­tled, “The Big Fat Sur­prise: Why But­ter, Meat and Cheese Be­long in a Healthy Diet.”

She dis­agrees with the Amer­i­can Heart Assn.’s con­clu­sions on the harm­ful ef­fects of sat­u­rated fats in re­la­tion to heart at­tacks, strokes and other “car­dio­vas­cu­lar events” and then later in the ar­ti­cle states, “It’s still pos­si­ble that a very large, long-term clin­i­cal trial could ul­ti­mately demon­strate that sat­u­rated fats cause car­dio­vas­cu­lar death, or even pre­ma­ture heart at­tacks.” Huh? Didn’t you just say — oh, well, for­get it.

The United States has one of the high­est rates of per capita meat con­sump­tion in the world. And what else does this coun­try have? An epi­demic of obe­sity, di­a­betes, cancer, heart at­tacks and strokes. Co­in­ci­dence?

Meat, dairy, soft drinks full of high fruc­tose corn syrup, etc., are not part of a “healthy diet” by any­one’s stan­dards. Car­los Car­rier

Long Beach

Te­i­cholz claims that long­stand­ing bias, com­mer­cial in­ter­ests and a need to reaf­firm decades of ad­vice is be­hind the Amer­i­can Heart Assn.’s re­cent pres­i­den­tial ad­vi­sory that di­etary re­place­ment of sat­u­rated fats from dairy and meat with polyun­sat­u­rated fat from vegetable oils re­duces car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease risk. She claims that AHA ex­am­ined only four clin­i­cal tri­als and dis­re­garded other data. But 10 tri­als were ex­am­ined; only four were of suf­fi­cient qual­ity for a pooled anal­y­sis of the data. Te­i­cholz ac­cuses AHA of “cherry-pick­ing” stud­ies. But cherry-picked ev­i­dence is what to watch out for in her book pro­mot­ing but­ter, meat and cheese con­sump­tion.

Wil­liam London

West­lake Vil­lage The writer is a pro­fes­sor of pub­lic health at Cal State Los An­ge­les.

The out­ra­geously head­lined opin­ion piece per­pet­u­ates con­fu­sion that could af­fect the health of mil­lions. De­spite re­cent food trends, clear and con­sis­tent sci­en­tific ev­i­dence shows sat­u­rated fat from a va­ri­ety of sources can raise LDL (bad) choles­terol.

For heart health, the Amer­i­can Heart Assn. con­tin­ues to urge peo­ple to limit sat­u­rated fats to less than 5%-6% of to­tal calo­ries con­sumed. For some­one eat­ing 2,000 calo­ries a day that’s about 11 to 13 grams of sat­u­rated fat.

More im­por­tantly, the AHA rec­om­mends fo­cus­ing on a heart-healthy “pat­tern” of eat­ing, rather than on in­di­vid­ual com­po­nents. This pat­tern em­pha­sizes veg­eta­bles, fruits and whole grains; in­cludes low-fat dairy prod­ucts, poul­try, fish, beans, non­trop­i­cal vegetable oils and nuts; and lim­its sodium, sweets, sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages and red meats.

For nearly a cen­tury, the AHA has pro­moted the premier peer re­viewed sci­ence-based guid­ance. The only special in­ter­ests we serve are those of the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

Ravi Dave, M.D.

Los An­ge­les The writer is past pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Heart Assn., LA County

The au­thor cor­rectly crit­i­cizes the bi­ases and fi­nan­cial ar­range­ments of the Amer­i­can Heart Assn., the med­i­cal sci­ence com­mu­nity and our gov­ern­ment in con­demn­ing eggs, but­ter and beef for the car­dio­vas­cu­lar epi­demic. We still live in a morass of mis­in­for­ma­tion on what con­sti­tutes healthy nutri­tion.

Whom can we trust for the truth? My sug­ges­tions: Elim­i­nate pro­cessed foods (loaded with sugar), so­das and juices. Add ad­e­quate pro­tein and good fat (un­salted tree nuts, av­o­ca­dos, tuna, sal­mon, sar­dines). And re­mem­ber to ex­er­cise. Jerome Hel­man, M.D.


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