A Flawed Dietary Guideline That Is Killing Us

Written by Cyndi O'Meara

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.
Time To Read: 7 minutes

October 28, 2020

I’m seeing a growing number of doctors moving away from medications and surgery as a panacea, to nutrition and lifestyle.

One such doctor that I have come across recently is ophthalmologist, Dr James Muecke. As 2020 Australian of the Year his aim, among other things, is to change the dietary guidelines. He said earlier this year: “A flawed dietary guideline, which we have obediently and blindly followed for 40 years, is literally killing us”.

The dietary guideline he is eluding to is the low-fat mantra, which includes that saturated fats and cholesterol are major contributors to heart disease.

As a result of this flawed dietary guideline, margarine replaced butter and vegetable oils replaced lard and anything that was deemed to be high in fat was lowered in fat and that fat replaced with sugar. Our consumption of fat went down and that of sugar and refined carbohydrates rose. Dr Muecke says that this has caused an explosion of type 2 diabetes and blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age Australians.

Dr Gary Fettke, a famed Tasmanian orthopaedic surgeon, was gagged as a result of him saying the exact same thing and that he was sick of cutting limbs off due to the explosion in diabetes. That gag order lasted three years. It has since been lifted by his regulatory body, AHPRA, and a formal apology given. I think this has paved the way for other doctors and specialists to speak up.

Recently I came across a Brisbane-based brain and spinal neurosurgeon, Dr David Johnson, who is moving away from back surgeries and increasing his scope with nutrition (keto) and functional movement. You can watch his video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x93_Hd_pZvA

The Heart Foundation still hold dear to them that vegetable fats are good and animal fats are evil. Their new guidelines (August 2019) still vilify saturated fat and butter as well as fatty red meat, lard and tallow. They suggest eating lean red meat three times a week and increasing your protein requirements with a plant-based option like legumes, nuts and seeds – and don’t forget the five serves of wholegrains each day including cereal, pasta and breads. Oh, and finally they agree that eggs are a good source of protein – there is no limit, but only seven a week if you have heart disease, type 2 diabetes and/or high LDL cholesterol which they still call bad….

The Heart Foundation still sees margarine as a good source of plant sterols. Plant sterols are added to this chemical concoction, but it has not been put on the good fat list. I find that interesting. Perhaps they are still being funded by a company or companies that make vegetable oil-based spreads like margarine (Flora or the like).

The problem with advocating margarine as a good source of plant sterols is that not only does it contain plant sterols but also interesterified fats (which can cause increased risk of diabetes), high amounts of polyunsaturated fats (which are inflammatory and not heart friendly), colours, flavours, diglycerides, synthetic vitamin A and D, preservatives, emulsifiers and food acids. Hardly a heart healthy food let alone a nutritious food.

It’s also interesting to note that consumption of plant sterols (phytosterol esters) could reduce the body’s levels of antioxidants and carotenoids. There have also been animal studies that have shown that the consumption of plant sterols can lead to endocrine and fertility issues. Some countries require foods that contain cholesterol-lowering plant sterols to carry an advisory warning because of the risk.



Let’s take a look at the science on saturated fat that is being drowned out by 40 years of dogma.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) in August 2020, published a review of the literature saying there was NO EVIDENCE that cutting saturated fats from your diet would help you live longer. And that eating more of this wonderful lipid found in red meat, dairy and butter might help you avoid a stroke. This is one of the many studies that have been ignored by the authorities who create dietary guidelines around the world.

The abstract reads as follows;

“The recommendation to limit dietary saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake has persisted despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Most recent meta-analyses of randomized trials and observational studies found no beneficial effects of reducing SFA intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality, and instead found protective effects against stroke. Although SFAs increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, in most individuals, this is not due to increasing levels of small, dense LDL particles, but rather larger LDL particles, which are much less strongly related to CVD risk. It is also apparent that the health effects of foods cannot be predicted by their content in any nutrient group without considering the overall macronutrient distribution. Whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods with a complex matrix that are not associated with increased risk of CVD. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods”.

You can read the study here: https://www.onlinejacc.org/content/76/7/844

One of the studies noted in the JACC study was conducted over 10 years with 195,658 British participants. The study concluded that there is no evidence that saturated fat intake was associated with cardiovascular disease. In contrast, the substitution of saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat (ie margarine, canola oil – as suggested by the Heart Foundation) is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dr James Muecke believes that “the JACC paper confirms there’s no link between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease…It’s a powerful study and should put the issue to bed forever”.

From 1978 in Sydney Australia through to current day in Washington DC, study after study has shown that consuming saturated fat has no association with an increased risk of CVD, yet many doctors, dietitians and the general public seem to be oblivious to this research.

I’ve been talking about this since I graduated in 1984. I wrote about it publicly in 1990 and in my first book in 1998, and now it cannot be refuted. It was my knowledge of anthropology and my philosophy of vitalism that made me so sure that butter was better than margarine and that natural fats like lard and tallow were far better than refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

After collecting all available information, I couldn’t see how old foods like butter (saturated fat) and eggs (cholesterol) could cause a modern disease like cardiovascular heart disease.

In 1984 when I graduated from Deakin University, I didn’t know about the Sydney research in 1978 of just under 500 male heart attack survivors that were split into two groups. Half were given safflower oil and Miracle margarine and advised to cut down on animal fats, while the other half were given no food substitutes and no advice. The men who were given the oil, margarine and advice, lowered their blood cholesterol significantly as was expected, as opposed to the men that were given no advice on food. But over the five years of the study, the researchers saw that the oil and margarine group were 50 percent more likely to die than the butter, meat and three veggies group. Therefore, lowering blood cholesterol does not necessarily equal longevity. This conclusion is also in the research (which was, however, seen as a failure as it did not prove the ‘lipid hypothesis’ that saturated fat caused heart disease by increasing LDL).

My love of the history of food made me delve deep into the history of margarine and its sordid past. I didn’t take my studies at Deakin University as gospel; I questioned everything. But with my knowledge of history and anthropology, my vitalistic philosophy guided me to certain realisations before the science had caught up.

This is what I do with every new food and dogma that comes along. I put it through the test of anthropology (did we eat it to survive until now?), history (where did the food come from and how did it start?) and philosophy (is the food vitalistic? Is it in its whole form? Is it made from nature rather than in a laboratory?)

Let’s look at butter for example. It’s been eaten for thousands of generations and is still eaten today by tribes living their herding lifestyle. Yes, it may be 50% saturated fat but what about its omega 3’s, its short chain fatty acid, butyrate, and the fact that it contains about 400 different fatty acids including factor X and a decent amount of fat-soluble vitamins? (You can read all about this in my book Lab to Table). Despite all these good points, butter was demonised because science believed saturated fat caused heart disease by increasing LDL – the lipid hypothesis.

As students, graduates or prospective students of The Nutrition Academy, you will understand fully “the flawed dietary guidelines, which we have obediently and blindly followed for 40 years that are literally killing us”.

I had the privilege to interview 2020 Australian of the Year Dr James Muecke for The Nutrition Academy. You can listen to him here https://vimeo.com/472480061/3fbacc1791

Perhaps if we all work together we can help Dr Muecke change the dietary guidelines and put a stop to the explosion in diabetes, metabolic disease, mental illness, cancer, autism, allergies, autoimmunity and heart disease.

If we work as a team anything is possible. After all, TEAM stands for: Together Everyone Achieves More.


Cyndi O’Meara


If you repeat a lie often enough it can become accepted as truth.  But a lie does not become the truth just because it is accepted by the majority. The problem is to turn the fast-moving freight train around so that people can start to live with health rather than illness, so that they don’t lose their limbs, their eyesight, movement and health because of a flawed 40 year old dietary guideline.

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