Dietitians have been encouraging Americans to substitute vegetable oil for saturated fats such as butter and lard. The assumption has been that polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oils such as safflower and corn would lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease.

Although such oils do lower cholesterol, a new analysis from data collected almost 50 years ago shows that increasing the amount of fatty acids from safflower oil may backfire. The Sydney Diet Heart Study was a controlled trial carried out between 1966 and 1973. The Australian men in this study had already had one coronary event. They were randomly assigned to maintain their regular diet or substitute liquid safflower oil and safflower-based margarine.

The men who consumed safflower oil instead of butter did lower their cholesterol, but they were at significantly greater risk of death during the study. They were 70% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease and 75% more likely to die of a coronary. The original study had not analyzed heart disease deaths separately by group. These striking results suggest that overloading the diet on polyunsaturated vegetable oils could be counterproductive.

BMJ, online, Feb. 5, 2013]

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  1. H.C.

    I used to avoid canned coconut milk because it’s high in saturated fat. Is it good for you now? I have many recipes that can use canned coconut milk. I’ve read that coconut oil is a wonder oil now. Should I use it as much as I could? I can also add it in my cooking if it’s good. HC.

  2. DS

    As told in The Oiling of America, very early trials showed that vegetable oil resulted in more deaths. But the abstract of the study told the lie that oils were good for us. On Dr. Mercola’s website on February 13 the title was “Publication Bias—the Hidden Systematic Flaw in Medicine that Can Threaten Your Life.” It tells how articles that serve an agenda are published, and how many results are NOT published if they don’t serve the agenda. Pretty scary. The lobby behind liquid oils is very active and powerful.

  3. roger g.

    I read yesterday that butter was better than margarine.

  4. Karen

    You can’t fool Mother Nature.

  5. RJ

    Very interesting article… thank you for continuing to bring this topic to light. I would love to hear your thoughts on Canola oil as this is a common ingredient in many packaged foods.

  6. Torrence

    It’s good for you, but it’s bad for you. So, do I use it or not????????

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