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When it comes to a healthy diet, your great-grandma knows best. New research on heart health supports Michael Pollan’s advice to only eat what your great-grandmother would recognize as food. For years, we’ve been told to avoid traditional foods high in animal fats. A healthy diet, scientists say, is rich in vegetable oil and low in saturated fats. But data recently unearthed from a 40-year-old national heart study says something different.

Results Of The Study

The study was supposed to reveal that unsaturated fats from vegetable oils improved your chances of living a longer, healthier life. Instead, the results of the study might have your Nana saying, “I told you so.”

Ivan Frantz, the study’s lead scientist, devoted his life to understanding the effects of cholesterol and saturated fats on the human body. A meticulous researcher, Frantz designed one of the largest and most rigorous studies of its kind. Recruiting over 9,000 people, Frantz and his team examined the relationship between traditional diets, cholesterol, and heart disease over the course of five years. Study participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group ate a diet high in animal fats, which was standard at the time. A second group ate foods that replaced about half of those saturated fats with vegetable oil and corn oil margarine.

When Frantz and his team analyzed the study’s results they were certain that the high vegetable oil diet would allow patients to live longer, healthier lives than the diet of saturated fats. The data told a different story. Patients who ate a traditional diet with more saturated fats lived longer than the those eating more unsaturated fats in vegetable oil. How could this be? Aren’t unsaturated fats supposed to be better for your health?

As it turns out, the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils like corn, cottonseed, and sunflower — foods unfamiliar to your Nana — contain high amounts of linoleic acid. A modern diet can contain 4-5 times as much linoleic acid as traditional diets. Recent research shows that high amounts of linoleic acid can increase death rates due to heart disease. It’s highly likely that the high levels of linoleic acid were the cause of the early deaths in Frantz’s heart study. The risk of mortality for those eating the high linoleic acid diet increased by 22%. This research suggests that vegetable oil lowers cholesterol, but extra linoleic acid cancels out its benefits.

When it comes to your long-term health, substituting unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils for the saturated fats in meat, cheese, and eggs may do more harm than good. Your great-grandma and the friendly folks at Rafter W Ranch would agree — nothing beats a diet that’s rich in tradition. Head over to Rafter W Ranch today to add their grass finished beef, chicken, or lamb to your next meal.