Sweden has become the first Western nation to develop national dietary guidelines that reject the popular low-fat diet dogma in favor of low-carb high-fat nutrition advice.
The switch in dietary advice followed the publication of a two-year study by the independent Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment. The committee reviewed 16,000 studies published through May 31, 2013.
Swedish doctor, Andreas Eenfeldt, who runs the most popular health blog in Scandinavia (DietDoctor.com) published some of the highlights of this study in English:
Health markers will improve on a low-carbohydrate diet:
…a greater increase in HDL cholesterol (“the good cholesterol”) without having any adverse affects on LDL cholesterol (“the bad cholesterol”). This applies to both the moderate low-carbohydrate intake of less than 40 percent of the total energy intake, as well as to the stricter low-carbohydrate diet, where carbohydrate intake is less than 20 percent of the total energy intake. In addition, the stricter low-carbohydrate diet will lead to improved glucose levels for individuals with obesity and diabetes, and to marginally decreased levels of triglycerides.”
Dr. Eenfeldt also translated an article from a local Swedish newspaper covering the committee’s findings:
Butter, olive oil, heavy cream, and bacon are not harmful foods. Quite the opposite. Fat is the best thing for those who want to lose weight. And there are no connections between a high fat intake and cardiovascular disease.
On Monday, SBU, the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment, dropped a bombshell. After a two-year long inquiry, reviewing 16,000 studies, the report “Dietary Treatment for Obesity” upends the conventional dietary guidelines for obese or diabetic people.
For a long time, the health care system has given the public advice to avoid fat, saturated fat in particular, and calories. A low-carb diet (LCHF – Low Carb High Fat, is actually a Swedish “invention”) has been dismissed as harmful, a humbug and as being a fad diet lacking any scientific basis.
Instead, the health care system has urged diabetics to eat a lot of fruit (=sugar) and low-fat products with considerable amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners, the latter a dangerous trigger for the sugar-addicted person.
This report turns the current concepts upside down and advocates a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, as the most effective weapon against obesity.
The expert committee consisted of ten physicians, and several of them were skeptics to low-carbohydrate diets at the beginning of the investigation.
One of the committee members was Prof. Fredrik Nyström, from Linköping, Sweden – a long-time critic of the low-fat diet and a proponent of the benefits of saturated fat, from sources such as butter, full fat cream, and bacon. Some quotes from Prof. Nyström translated into English from Dr. Eenfeldt:
“I’ve been working with this for so long. It feels great to have this scientific report, and that the skepticism towards low-carb diets among my colleagues has disappeared during the course of the work. When all recent scientific studies are lined up the result is indisputable: our deep-seated fear of fat is completely unfounded. You don’t get fat from fatty foods, just as you don’t get atherosclerosis from calcium or turn green from green vegetables.”
Nyström has long advocated a greatly reduced intake of carbohydrate-rich foods high in sugar and starch, in order to achieve healthy levels of insulin, blood lipids and the good cholesterol. This means doing away with sugar, potatoes, pasta, rice, wheat flour, bread, and embracing olive oil, nuts, butter, full fat cream, oily fish and fattier meat cuts. “If you eat potatoes you might as well eat candy. Potatoes contain glucose units in a chain, which is converted to sugar in the GI tract. Such a diet causes blood sugar, and then the hormone insulin, to skyrocket.”
There are many mantras we have been taught to accept as truths:
“Calories are calories, no matter where they come from.”
“It’s all about the balance between calories in and calories out.”
“People are fat because they don’t move enough.”
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
“Of course these are not true. This kind of nonsense has people with weight problems feeling bad about themselves. As if it were all about their inferior character. For many people a greater intake of fat means that you’ll feel satiated, stay so longer, and have less of a need to eat every five minutes. On the other hand, you won’t feel satiated after drinking a Coke, or after eating almost fat free, low-fat fruit yogurt loaded with sugar. Sure, exercise is great in many ways, but what really affects weight is diet.”
Will the USDA Now Revise Their Guidelines?
The scientific literature implicating the dangers of refined carbohydrates and the benefits of healthy fats has been around for decades now. One probable reason why this study was done in Sweden is that a lot of people were obvious already following such a diet. Currently in Sweden, it is estimated that only 14 percent of the population are obese compared with one-third in the USA.
So will the U.S. follow suit and explore revising USDA dietary guidelines? Not likely.
As I have recently pointed out in an article published YOU the Taxpayer are Funding the Agri Business Takeover of our Food Supply, the USDA nutritional guidelines favor the heavily subsidized crops of wheat, soy, and corn. The political forces are just too strong in the U.S. right now to allow any dietary advice that would cut into corporate profits and their production of cheap food to dominate world food supplies.
This dietary advice of a low-carb high-fat diet has been around since the 1920s, when the ketogenic diet was developed at John Hopkins Hospital to cure epilepsy in children who did not respond to drugs. With the advent of the USDA diet guidelines, starting with the McGovern Report in the 1970s, fat was condemned and the low-fat diet advice was promoted through the healthcare system.
In 2002, science journalist Gary Taubes began writing on the dangers of the high-carbohydrate diet and benefits of a high-fat diet, and his work was published in both the N.Y. Times and Time Magazine. His article title was “What If It Were All a Big Fat Lie!”
With mainstream media now covering the truth about the fallacies of the low-fat diet in the early 2000s, Dr. Atkins and his low-carb high-fat diet, which had been around for many years, gained a huge following. Various forms of the low-carb high-fat diet exist today in the U.S., but they are still considered “fringe” and “extreme.” The low-carb high-fat diet is routinely attacked by the government and medical system, even as pharmaceutical companies rush to make patented drugs that mimic the ketone effects of the diet, particularly in cancer treatment, the largest market share for pharmaceutical companies.
So, while Sweden has taken a huge step forward in following a commission who looked at over 16,000 studies and confirmed science that has been around for many years, don’t expect the U.S. government to do anything similar anytime soon. It is up to you to do your own research to understand the REAL facts about a healthy diet.