Historical Events

AHA nutrition committee releases recommendation to cut saturated fat and cholesterol from diets to reduce heart disease risk.

Dietary Fat and Its Relation to Heart Attacks and Strokes Central Committee for Medical and Community Program of the American Heart Association

CURRENT available knowledge is sufficient to warrant a general statement regarding the relation of diet to the possible prevention of atherosclerosis (Appendix I).

A heart attack, also called coronary thrombosis or myocardial infarction, or just plain "coronary," is almost always caused by atherosclerosis (arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries). Stroke, or apoplexy, is often caused by the same condition. The problem of preventing or retarding these diseases is, then, one of preventing or retarding atherosclerosis.

How Does Atherosclerosis Develop?—  Athero-Atherosclerosis is a complex disease of the arteries. It is known that a number of factors influence or are related to its development. Among these factors are a high content in the blood of a type of fat called cholesterol, elevation of blood pressure above normal, presence of diabetes, obesity, and a habit of excessive cigarette smoking. Age, sex, and heredity are also important.

"The AHA committee swung around in favor of Keys,Stamler's ideas, and the resulting report in 1961 argued that "the best available evidence available at the present time" suggested that Americans could reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes by cutting the saturated fat and cholesterol in their diets.
The report also recommended the "reasonable substitution" of saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats such as corn or soybean oil. This so-called "prudent diet" was still relatively high in fat overall. In fact, the AHA would not stress the reduction of total fat until 1970, when Jerry Stamler steered the group in this direction. For the first decade, however, the group's focus was primarily on reducing the consumption of the saturated fats found in meat, cheese, whole milk, and other dairy products. The 1961 AHA report was the first official statement by a national group anywhere in the world recommending that a diet low in saturated fats be employed to prevent heart disease."

-Nina Teicholz - Big Fat Surprise - page 50

"Less than four years later, the evidence hadn’t changed, but now a sixman ad-hoc committee, including Keys and Jeremiah Stamler, issued a new AHA report that reflected a change of heart. Released to the press in December 1960, the report was slightly over two pages long and had no references.*6 Whereas the 1957 report had concluded that the evidence was insufficient to authorize telling an entire nation to eat less fat, the new report argued the opposite—“the best scientific evidence of the time” strongly suggested that Americans would reduce their risk of heart disease by reducing the fat in their diets, and replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats. This was the AHA’s first official support of Keys’s hypothesis, and it elevated high cholesterol to the leading heart-disease risk. Keys considered the report merely an “acceptable compromise,” one with “some undue pussy-footing” because it didn’t insist all Americans should eat less fat, only those at high risk of contracting heart disease (overweight middle-aged men, for instance, who smoke and have high cholesterol)."

-Gary Taubes - Good Calories Bad Calories - Chapter 1

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