Keys: The evidence – both from experiments and from field surveys – indicates that cholesterol content, per se, of all natural diets has no significant effect on either the cholesterol level or the development of atherosclerosis in man.
Interviewer: Now the latest trend is low-fat diets. Cardiologist Dean Ornish recommends severe diets of no more than 10% of calories from fat. Is that good advice?
Keys: It’s nonsense.
Interviewer: What about the latest non-fat fats like Olestra?
Keys: More nonsense. They have nothing to do with a healthy diet.
Interviewer: What about dietary cholesterol? For years Americans have been worried about eggs and other high-cholesterol foods - but now there seems to be less concern.
Keys: There is no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. None. And we have known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit. … But all carnivores, not just human beings but rats and dogs - are not sensitive.
As for elevated serum cholesterol, our work showed that it is associated with heart disease. But curiously it is only a significant risk factor for men under 60 or 65. We don’t know about women. After that age elevated serum cholesterol doesn’t seem to matter very much. We don’t know why but it’s a fact.
Interviewer: Has olive oil been over hyped?
Keys: It probably has been, yes.
Interviewer: Have your findings influenced your diet or health habits?
Keys: Not very much, really.
Interviewer: What are the most important messages from your work regarding heart disease?
Keys: The most important message doesn’t have to do with diet at all. It’s that smoking is the most dangerous thing you can do. It’s far worse than having high blood pressure, or high serum cholesterol, or anything else.
The above are excerpts taken from: