More Dairy Fat, Less Heart Disease

I found that butter made me faster at arithmetic. This contradicted the usual view that butter is unhealthy. However, there is plenty of evidence that the usual view is wrong. The latest issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition contains another example. An epidemiological article titled “Dietary intake of saturated fat by food source and incident cardiovascular disease: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis” found a negative correlation between dairy fat and heart disease:

Although dietary recommendations have focused on restricting saturated fat (SF) consumption to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, evidence from prospective studies has not supported a strong link between total SF  intake and CVD events. . . . After adjustment for demographics, lifestyle, and dietary confounders, a higher intake of dairy SF was associated with lower CVD risk [HR (95% CI) for +5 g/d and +5% of energy from dairy SF: 0.79 (0.68, 0.92) and 0.62 (0.47, 0.82), respectively].

However, saturated fat from meat was associated with more heart disease:

In contrast, a higher intake of meat SF was associated with greater CVD risk [HR (95% CI) for +5 g/d and a +5% of energy from meat SF: 1.26 (1.02, 1.54) and 1.48 (0.98, 2.23), respectively].

It isn’t obvious how to explain the interaction (the direction of association of saturated fat depends on whether it is in dairy or meat). The authors conclude:

Associations of SF with health may depend on food-specific fatty acids or other nutrient constituents in foods that contain SF, in addition to SF

This recent article also questions the idea that dairy fat causes heart disease. One more reason to question conventional nutritional advice.

7 Replies to “More Dairy Fat, Less Heart Disease”

  1. ‘conventional nutritional advice is less certain than its proponents say’: how true. It’s like the global warmongers – the lack of intellectual humility is appalling.

  2. Indeed. The ineluctable foregone conclusion of certainty… smoke, anyone?

    It is as if anything less than absolute unquestionability in a number of matters implies some sort of treason.

  3. The “official” advice about cholesterol and saturated fat is very inconsistent.

    For example, the website of the National Institutes of Health has links to many research studies that seem to show benefits from both saturated fat and cholesterol.

    And, by the way, the NIH website and the FDA website contradict each other on many issues, especially involving drug safety (the FDA never met a BigPharma drug it didn’t like, while the NIH links to many studies about the damage done by drugs.). I tend to trust the NIH much more than the FDA, largely because of the FDA’s horrible record of financial conflicts of interest.

    Recently, based on my reading of information on the NIH website, I began eating a diet of up to a dozen or more hard-boiled eggs daily, with great results. My weight is the lowest in years, my blood sugar is dropping, and my blood pressure is also much lower.

    On my little blog (, I have an unofficial search engine of the NIH website, as well as links to NIH information about topics like “Saturated fat and heart disease” and “Eggs and dietary cholesterol.”

    I better finish this comment now, before all these whole eggs kill me.

  4. >>I found that butter made me faster at arithmetic. This contradicted the usual view that butter is unhealthy.

    What do you mean by this? I think the usual view is that TOO much butter means a diet high in saturated fats which is seen as a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
    How on earth does your one man unblinded experiment contradict that?

    There’s a lot of unknowns about interactions between food and health which is why lots of studies such as the one you referred to are conducted.
    ‘Usual’ Dietary advice evolves with evidence (assuming food industry lobbyist are tamed). The problem with dietary advice is that it’s almost impossible to run trials and identify co-founders so you resort to theory testing. If some epidemiological study of sufficient power shows that those eating more butter are more likely to develop CHD, then it’s reasonable to suggest there may be a link – however you cannot imply causation from such studies – food, people, genetics, diets are too complex. Butter eating may just be a confounder for another factors. That’s how we end up with very broad classifications of healthy diets such as ”Mediterranean diet/lifestyle’.

    Consuming cholesterol from eggs is not the same as having high blood cholesterol. Eggs are generally do not need to be restricted.

    Seth: My butter results contradict the usual view because they suggest that butter improves brain function, which is part of health.

  5. Seth, does butter really make you better at arithmetic?

    I suspect that a better explanation is the old cliche, “Practice makes perfect,” which would mean that butter would give you the illusion of making you better at anything you do often, whether arithmetic, or chess, or public speaking, or weight lifting.

    In that case, it would be the repetition, not the butter.

    Seth: Butter made me suddenly better, after a long time when I didn’t improve. There is also other evidence for my explanation, including that when I reduced how much butter I ate I got worse.

  6. While it is true some data suggest Fat intake is associated with CVD, there’s also data that suggest Fat intake is associated with increase length of lifespan. Here’s data from the 7 country study, which is often used to try to convince people NOT to eat Fat:

    Since this recent study showed DECREASED risk for CVD, maybe Dairy is the ultimate source for getting that life-saving Fat; decrease your risk for CVD *AND* increase the length of your life! Sounds like a win-win to me.

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