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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dr Livingstone vs the Heart Foundation: "Why are Margarine products given Heart Health tick"

Red tick logoImage via Wikipedia
The following is correspondence between the Australian Heart Foundation and Dr Keith Livingstone about the Foundation's awarding their "Heart Tick" to Goodman Fielder's margarine.

Regardless of who is right is wrong here, the problem I have with commercial schemes like the Heart Tick and the Cancer Society "Sun Smart" sunscreen sales is these consumer/patient advocacy agencies have consequently undermined their position of independence of commercial interests.

Because health knowledge is dynamic, the risk to these agencies is their substantial reliance on income from commercial product sales that may have once been regarded as "healthy" may bring about a reluctance to change, should it later arise that this once "healthy" product is no longer regarded as being healthy and possibly even harmful.

In my opinion the Heart Foundation's response to Dr Livingstone's letter is an attempt to defend what is now the indefensible.  While deaths from heart attack and stroke appear to have stabilised over the last 30-40 years, we have had a concurrent explosion in many other health conditions including chronic fatigue, arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, asthma, diabetes, obesity and depression.  I believe there is a link between these and many other ailments and the shift to low fat, heart healthy foods.

If we switch unwell people, who have been on heart healthy foods, to diets with a balance of proteins, saturated fats, vitamins and minerals, while cutting out the refined carbohydrates (The ones with the Heart Tick) and then lay them out in the midday sun, health gradually improves.

As you well know, both the Heart Foundation and the Cancer Society oppose these health measures, despite the growing body of evidence that these actually work to improve population health, while their measures do not.

Please read the letters below and enjoy the dabate.........

Dr Livingstone:

To whom it concerns:

I find it amazing that an international margarine company advertising on Victorian TV tonight has been given the Heart Health “tick” when it is very clear that the hydrogenated vegetable oils turn normal plant oils into an unpredictable source of trans-fats, which are becoming notorious for

causing major neurological and cardiac problems and also potential problems of insulin resistance for diabetics. This use of heating plant oils under high pressure turns what looks like used sump oil into something resembling butter, but your Foundation still continues to promote the un-proven mythology that saturated fats are very bad for us. This is all well known and well-documented, but apparently not by your organization which promotes itself as the fountainhead of knowledge on this subject. The conclusion here for me is that the National Heart Foundation is an expedient organization that makes its money by selling off “ticks” to vested-interest groups that operate like itself.

Could someone in authority at your institution please give me recent scientifically-researched reason why trans fats are now good for us, apart from earning endorsement money for the National Heart Foundation?

This is a farce. How many thousands of poorly educated people are being set up for serious health problems by  your institution?  What happened to honesty?

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” Abraham Lincoln.

Am J Clin Nutr (January 13, 2010). doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725This Article© 2010 American Society for Clinical Nutrition 
Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease1,2,3,4,5Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu and Ronald M Krauss

For the current study, researchers led by Dr. Ronald M. Krauss, of the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Center in California, pooled data from 21 studies that included a total of nearly 348,000 adults.

Participants, who were generally healthy to start, were surveyed about their diet habits and then followed for anywhere from five to 23 years. Over that time, 11,000 developed heart disease or suffered a stroke.

Overall, Krauss and his colleagues found, there was no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat.
The analysis included what are known as epidemiological studies -- where the researchers looked for associations between people's reported diet habits and their risk of heart disease and stroke. These types of studies have inherent limitations, like depending on people's recollection of their eating habits.

Dr Keith Livingstone
Healthy Intelligent Training
On 25/08/10 12:32 PM, "Sabine Drilling" <> wrote:

Dear Dr Livingstone

Thank you for your email concerning the television commercial for margarine.

We are pleased that you have taken the time to come to us with your concerns.
The Heart Foundation, being an evidenced based organisation develops its recommendations after examining the evidence from many sound scientific studies.
That Australians should be encouraged to switch from butter to margarine has a long standing dietary health recommendation by the Heart Foundation for about 35 years and Goodman Fielder's public health message in their advertisement is consistent with our public health nutrition recommendations which are based on high quality scientific evidence from a range of research studies to determine what advice is right and practical for the Australian population.

Vegetable oils are the base for margarines. Soybean, olive, corn, sunflower and canola are common oils used in the manufacture of margarines as they are high in poly and monounsaturated fatty acids.

Oils which are liquid at room temperature are converted to solid margarine by a process called hydrogenation. This is a chemical process by which hydrogen is added to unsaturated fatty acids. Hydrogenation converts the unsaturated bonds in the oil into saturated bonds, creating a solid, spreadable fat with increased shelf life. Hydrogenation gets rid of some double bonds, but incompletely transforms others. Following hydrogenation, the level of polyunsaturated fatty acids is reduced.

However in Australia over the last 10 years through changing the margarine manufacturing process from hydrogenation to esterification, manufacturers have significantly reduced the trans fatty acid content of the margarine spreads in the Australian food supply which means they now have little or insignificant levels of trans fats AND that margarines with the Heart Foundation Tick now have less than 1% trans fats.
As both trans fat and saturated fat raise the level of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood which can increase your risk of heart disease, it is advisable to limit the amounts of trans fat in your diet and whilst butter does contain less trans fat than some margarines, it still has a higher level saturated fat when compared to vegetable oil based margarines.
Before any written material by us is published, it is reviewed by several committees made up of scientists, academics and cardiologists who are experts in their field of nutrition and heart disease. You can be assured that the Heart Foundation's recommendation to use margarine spreads instead of butter are scientifically based. Saturated fat has been shown in many credible studies to be strongly associated with an increased risk for in cardiovascular disease as it raises blood cholesterol levels.
The Heart Foundation has recently released a position paper on dietary fats and dietary sterols for cardiovascular health and whilst we know some people will not accept our views, we simply ask that people take the time to consider the facts. The position statement, summary of evidence and references which may be of interest to you in light of your inquiry may be found on our website via the link below.;>

Technical information about the margarine manufacturing process may also be obtained from Goodman Fielder’s senior food technologist, Ms Janet McDonald who has a strong technical knowledge about their products. Janet’s contact details are;> 
phone:1300 132 130

Used daily in place of butter, margarine helps us to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and is one of the simplest improvements you can make to your health. This finding has also been supported by CSIRO research led by Dr Peter Clifton Director of CSIRO’s Nutrition Clinic in Adelaide, South Australia; resources/Margarine.html#1>

We hope this information is useful and invite you to phone the Heart Foundation’s Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87, during business hours if you wish to discuss this matter further.

Yours sincerely,

Sabine DrillingHeart Health Professional
Heart Foundation Tel: 1300 36 27 87 Fax: 1300 36 55 31>
This Fathers Day let dad know you really care check out our super specials just for dad on the Heart Foundation online shop:> 
For heart health information 1300 36 27 87> 


From: Keith  Livingstone <>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 16:30:25 +1000
To: Sabine Drilling <>
Conversation: Why are Margarine products given Heart Health tick????
Subject: Re: Why are Margarine products given Heart Health tick????

Dear Sabine;

Thank you for your rapid response and supporting information. I do appreciate it. I will certainly view the sources you have sent me. I may well be in the group of people who don’t accept the Heart Foundation’s views, as a tenet that has been consistently held for 35 years in the  rapidly advancing field of nutrition is surely likely to be superseded by now. Rather than engage you in debate, I will state my case as to why the Heart Foundation should perhaps change its course. Evidence-based research is fine, as long as the evidence isn’t selective in order to support a party line that has been accepted and followed for many years. This is what my email was about. I find it amazing that the Heart Foundation hasn’t the intellectual honesty to state that some of their earlier stances are now outdated and quite possibly no longer in the best interests of general health. I am also intrigued as to how any level of trans fats can be deemed as “insignificant”. Trans fats are neurotoxins that compete with the body’s own essential fatty acids for receptor sites.

The very recently published study cited in my earlier email (based on pooled data from 21 studies, based on 348,000 adults) showed 
there was no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat in the 11,000 respondents who suffered these maladies.(1)Two earlier studies associate low cholesterol with increased morbidity rates in older populations.
Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University, reported in 1994 that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people with a high cholesterol.(2)
A 2003 study provided good evidence that high blood cholesterol levels protect against bacterial infection and atherosclerosis!(3)

Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu and Ronald M Krauss: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease1,2,3,4,5

Am J Clin Nutr (January 13, 2010)
2. Krumholz, H.M. et. al. “Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all-cause mortality in persons older than 70 years.” Journal of the American Medical Association 272, 1335-1340, 1990.
3. Ravnskov, U. “High cholesterol may protect against infections and atherosclerosis.” Quarterly Journal of Medicine 96, 927-934, 2003.

Thanks for your response again,

Keith Livingstone.
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1 comment:

Wayne said...

its a double edged sword.
not only are people being encouraged to eat very unhealthy fats, they are being steered away from, saturated fats which are actually more healthy alternatives when eaten in moderation.
ironically polyunsaturated fats used in margarines, despite what some researchers belive also contributes to artherosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries ,
this only occurs when artery walls are damaged by fats, the fats in margarine do this damage and also go on to end up in the fatty deposits that build up on the artery walls, and providing a better source for other fats like saturated fats to cling on to. so its not clear cut that saturated fats are in fact the bad players in the heart disease debate.