The Hepworth Family Trees


This is the page for links to both the Steabben family history and the Hepworth family history and for some links to web pages to make you think. There is much information and many photographs to be included. If you are related to either the Steabbens or the Hepworths and you think you may have more information or photos then we would be pleased to hear from you. The design has yet to be finalised but will not be including the 'Bush Park' banner above or the links at the bottom of the page. It will include links to any other sites that may be relevant to either the Hepworths or the Steabbens.

Sue is currently working on the Norman and Bartlett family history and would be happy to hear from anyone who thinks they may be related. This will appear on a seperate page.

The Steabben Family Tree
This comprehensive family tree has been researched over several years by Roger Morris. If you have any information regarding any of the Steabbens or others on this tree or would like to see the information gathered so far, please e-mail or It will all become part of a Steabben Family Website when time allows.

The Hepworth Family Tree If you have any information regarding Hepworths or would like to see the information gathered so far, please e-mail .

If researching your own family tree, we shall be putting useful links here to all the webites that have been found useful. If it had not been for a message posted on the message board back in 2001, it would not have enabled Roger Morris and Adrian Hepworth to make contact in 2005 . For that reason it should be the first link to added here.

Meanwhile some reading matter about

Wide Screen TVs
uPVC Windows
Wind Turbines
Cooking Oils
What if Bad Fat Isn't so Bad?

Are We All Really Sheep?


The Grumpy Old Cynic

Have you looked at yourself in the mirror recently? What shape are your eyes? Yes, they're round. And the black bit in the middle, your pupil? That's round as well. So when you see yourself in the mirror, using round eyes, with round pupils, the view is sort of - round. A full 360 degrees. It goes a bit fuzzy at the edges and you may loose some of the view when looking down as your nose and bushy eyebrows might obscure a bit but basically we see a view that is round.

Many early paintings were done on canvas or board. These were often portraits of people but as the human species walks upright and has a face that it taller than it is wide, these paintings were also taller than they were wide. In fact this shape of image is stilled called 'portrait' to distinguish it from 'landscape' where the image is wider than it is tall, more often used to show just that, a landscape scene.

The earliest images that could be reproduced were photographs, again there were more of people than of places. A typical family album will have for more 'portrait' images of family members with the occasional family group or holiday scene that uses a wider image. Many of these photos were taken with a camera that had a round lens and a square piece of film. The first moving pictures shown on the magic lantern where also square.

As the camera developed and used film that came in rolls instead of plates, the manufacturers realized that they could get more images on the same length of film if the made each negative shorter. That added ‘value’ so became more popular. You then had to turn the camera on its side to take a portrait photo. The professionals, however, used cameras with square negatives and many still do.

From the ‘Magic Lantern’ evolved the moving picture. The silver screen enabled thousands to watch films. The more people that could see films, the more money could be made so the film companies built ever larger cinemas with correspondingly larger screens. Now the screens were so wide, especially for epics, the viewer needed to turn their head to see from side to side. They made bigger and wider screens to try and impress more and more people, sometimes using several screens joined together to make a panoramic view. This was Cinerama. (There was even a trial with Circarama where a turret of cameras could film a full 360 panarama, the audience stood in the middle of a circular screen and had to turn round to get the full view. Since there was nowhere for the crew or actors to hide, it was only ever used for views of the countryside shot by the cluster of cameras bolted to the roof of a moving car.)

Meanwhile the television was invented and again began with a circular tube for a screen with the sides squared off by the box it was mounted in. The screen slowly became rectangular and whilst the popular photograph format was 5:4, the proportions of the TV was 4:3. If not familiar with proportions it just means that for every 4 inches or mm in one direction, there would be 5 inches or millimeters in the other. (Film sizes and TV screen sizes refer to the distance from corner to corner, the diagonal, and do not take into account the format.)

Where’s all this leading you may ask! Well I’m trying to point out that we see a circular image and not a long horizontal view. When we looked at a large screen and would have to change our view to take it all in, a TV, even large one, can be seen in its entirety without moving our head You even get to see the ornaments on the top of the TV, the carpet beneath it and the wall behind it. Our field of vision can take it all in. And what is the most common image we see on TV. Usually the head of someone talking, the tall image that appeared in all those early portrait paintings.

More and more films have began to be shown on TV but I have never ever heard anybody being disappointed by missing the extra bits of scene lost at the sides. Now, without asking any of us the manufacturers have decided to make the screen wider still. Its now nearly twice as wide as it is tall (16:9) but many of us still have TV’s with 4:3 screens so you either have a black band top and bottom or loose a bits at the side. It’s now got so silly that even old black and white films have been enlarged to fill the width of the ‘wide’ screen so you loose bits at the top and bottom.

I shall avoid buying a wide screen TV as long as possible and it doesn’t worry me that the credits are often cut off by the edge of the screen. It’s their loss, not mine and the only time I notice I’ve lost a bit of the screen. I’d rather use the full screen and loose those bits at the side. I’d rather watch an image that’s closer to what my eyes see than look at life through the letter box. And had you noticed that because screen sizes are measured by the diagonal, a 28” wide screen TV is actually smaller than a 28” 3:4 screen. Are we being conned into buying smaller TVs yet paying more for the ‘new’ format.

Or are we all really sheep? Look into the eyes of the next sheep you meet (or goat, or horse) and you’ll see a pupil that is almost exactly the same format as a wide screen TV! Was it just the sheep that were consulted about the wider screens we are now being forced to buy or have the aliens landed?

P.S After writing this for the Parish Magazine I had to do some research for someone else, again about screen formats. I came across this site that may interest you.

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What do Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Adidas, Honda, Ikea, Nike, Puma, Samsung, General Motors, Sharp, Electrolux, AEG, Sony, Toyota, Volvo, Ford, Peugeot, Daimler Benz, Volkswagen, Marks & Spencers, Boots, British Rail, US Navy and NASA
all have in common? Answer at the bottom!

Or What Cost Independent Advice - £1500 a Day?

To save energy we are encouraged to insulate our homes and to install double glazing to stop valuable heat energy escaping through the windows. As we become more environmentally aware, not only is efficiency of the product considered, but what went into its manufacture, its maintenance costs, can it be repaired and what to do with it when it comes to the end of its useful life. One of the materials used in much double glazing is PVC or uPVC. This is the plastic, usually white, that forms the visible part of many window frames. It is protecting a steel core that gives the frame its strength. The United Nations Environment program has created a treaty called 'The Stockholm Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs)'. This treaty is targeting 12 particular toxic POPs for reduction and eventual elimination. One of these substances is PVC.

Over the past 20+ years and have fought off many approaches by double glazing sales people trying to sell uPVC relacement windows. However one of the most unbiased opinions one can get is from a total stranger, one who has nothing to gain or loose by letting you know something they may not reveal to even their best friends, and certainly not to a potential customer whose purchase may earn them commission or secure their job.

After I've resisted a sales pitch, I have twice asked the salesperson what their opinions are . Asking what they use themselves can be very revealing. I have now twice asked this question of double glazing sales people and been told that they wouldn't touch them, fitting traditional wood to their own houses. The reason? When they were being publicised as being maintenance free, there had not been a paint developed that would stick to PVC. When they became discoloured, the best you could do was wash or polish them.

Now just in case you didn't know what PVC stands for its Poly Vinyl Chloride, not only used in windows but also water pipes and electrical cable insulation. The ‘chloride’ is the most worrying as it takes the form of chlorine which, if your history is up to scratch, you may remember was used as the gas of choice for a chemical weapon during the first world war. PVC is 58% chlorine. Even the uPVC, a version better able to withstand the effect of ultra violet radiation, sunlight, is nearly 50% chlorine along with additives such as lead, cadmium, organotin compounds and phthalates. And no I don't know what organotin compounds and phthalates are but if their as dodgy as lead and cadmium then I don't want to know.

Returning for a moment to the criteria that make up an informed choice, then performance should be judged along with the energy used to make the product, can it be maintained, can it be repaired, can it be recycled and ease of disposal. Here some interesting facts come to light. In an attempt to save one London borough from making an expensive mistake, they carried out some research to compare these criteria for different window construction types.

The comparisons made were between wood, aluminium, PVC, alumium and wood composite, steel and fibreglass. For embodied energy, that used to make them, the wood was 'very low' while the PVC and aluminium were equal highest, the others rating as medium. Life for wood and aluminium was long while PVC was the only one to earn 'short'. It surprised me to learn that the average life of uPVC windows as found from units recovered from waste sites, was only 18 years but how many stay in your home for longer than that after installing new windows? One building expert says that after only a few years, PVC becomes so brittle that leaning a ladder against a window sill could even break it off.

This council discovered that wood, aluminium & wood composite and fibreglass were the only ones with a long life, while only wood wins a 'very good' for being repairable and fibreglass as 'good', all the others being poor. It is the 'hazards on disposal', that reveals the main problem with PVC. If its goes to incineration, even with carefully controlled flue temperatures, 1 ton of PVC becomes 1 ton of hazardous waste. The UK used 300 thousand tonnes of uPVC window section in year 2000 alone so you can see a problem looming. If dumped in landfill the hazards are just as bad. The hazards are sufficient that PVC as a wiring insulation, is banned from high risk buildings such as airports.

The USA, Australia and Europe is currently exporting the problem by sending used PVC to countries like Indonesia where its is supposed to be converted to lower quality products like shoes or poor quality pipes but even after being shipped around the world, 40% is still ending up in landfill.

My last conversation with a salesman in Dec 2006, who luckily wasn't selling me double glazing, revealed that as long as 20 years ago this was all known, including the cancer risks to those using PVC in manufacturing. Countries have even considered banning it but the manufacturing lobby is huge. Germany, where much of the sections are made, has satisfied itself by removing the grants for uPVC windows available for home improvement. This way they cannot be accused of actually banning it. This salesman even implied that when he tried to sell the less hazardous fibreglass frames, he was advised by his uPVC suppliers, in no uncertain terms, not to.

As if to confirm this last conversation, the following day there was a radio broadcast discussing the private papers of Sir Richard Doll, who died in 2005 and whose private papers had been given over to the Welcome Museum where several people have been examining them. Sir Richard Doll was the doctor who potentially saved millions of lives by showing the link between lung cancer and smoking. He earnt his knighthood for this work. He was a member of the Royal Society and director of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. However one of his letters was from the American chemical giant, Monsanto, who were confirming his consulting fee was to be $1500 dollars per DAY over an eight year consultancy period. Now this was back in 1979 so would have represented a huge amount, even if he only worked a few days per year.

So what was he being consulted about? Two products for which Monsanto made the ingredients. One was Agent Orange, the Herbicide used in the Vietnam war to defoliate thousand of trees and still now is causing deformities and mental problems for children in Vietnam born several generations later, and the other was vinyl chloride, used to make PVC, that was even then the centre of huge debate about it being the cause of cancer. He was paid £1500 by the Chemical Manufacturers Association and two other chemical companies, Dow Chemicals and ICI.

About PVC he was saying that "other than liver cancer(!), the hazard from vinyl chloride was small". This is puzzling since only a year before in a publication from the UN body, IR, it said that "Vinyl chloride causes cancer of the liver, brain, lung and lymphatic system, amongst others."

Hopefully that has set you to thinking about your next choice for window frames. As for those who already have uPVC windows, there is no need for you to worry. All the evidence suggests it is only dangerous to those working in the industry or those having to dispose of them after its short life. The problem we all have is that we all have to live in the environment polluted by toxins and acids from incineration. Well I think there are still more important things to worry about, such as how much 'independent' advice can $1500 dollars a day buy you? Oh and those companies listed in the heading? They have all committed themselves to reducing or eliminating PVC from their environment.

The Grumpy Old Cynic - Copyright A.S.Hepworth 2006 Revised Jan & April 2007

Ref these links :-
BBC Radio 4, Friday 8th December 2006 approx. 7am. (Transcript available)
Trelleborg Tech Sheet - TPO vs PVC

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A letter to a local paper -

Is the Future Blowing in the Wind?


The Grumpy Old Cynic

On the day that the building of the largest wind farm in the world is announced for off the coast of Kent, I feel I must comment on the two writers in last weeks Times Gazette (14th December) from Messrs Quinn and Squires.

Both have strong opposing opinions about wind farms, one suggesting that to refuse the construction of any must be an affront to anyone claiming to care for the future and the other believing they are "blot on the landscape" that are solely there to make money for the landowners on whose land they would be built and have nothing to do with saving the planet from the effects of global warming.

Whether you believe that the human race is hell bent on destroying itself by polluting the atmosphere and that global warming is a result of all this, or you believe its just the natural cycle of the planet that regularly dives into an ice age followed by a turbulent hot climate, an alternative to the use of the diminishing non renewable resources, the saving of any energy or getting it for 'free' can only be a good thing. I personally applaud the building of wind farms off -shore for two reasons. The most important should be that these monster windmills are notoriously inefficient when stood on a hill top. The wind blows for only a few days every week and these huge fans have been known to pull themselves apart when the gyroscopic effect of what is basically a flywheel weighing several tons has to realign itself with the wind when a sudden gust blows from a different direction. These sudden gusts are where most of the wind's energy is yet these turbines cannot turn to face the wind quick enough to make use of it.These gust are caused by wind 'sloshing' over the countryside. The prevailing winds may come from one direction but when it encounters hill sides, forests, cliffs, buildings etc. it gets bounced about just like water flowing of the rocks in river. The 'prevailing' flow may follow the line of the river but the currents go in all sorts of directions. Build these monoliths out at sea and you solve the problem - far fewer obstacle to upset the air flow. I said the most important reason for these not being built on land should be the poor efficiency but build them in the countryside and 'the countryside' ceases to be. It becomes the backdrop for a series of man made structures, whether you like their appearance is a matter of personal taste. As pure design they could be described as aesthetically beautiful, and some may see them as evidence that someone is trying to do something to reduce CO2 emmissions, but when they are more often seen stationary because there is not enough wind to turn them, or there is so much wind they are in danger of doing themselves damage so they're shut down, I think they are just advertisng their uselessness in inappropriate locations.

The Grumpy Old Cynic - Copyright A.S.Hepworth 2006


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Some useful and important links ......

I strongly suggest anyone concerned with there own health, including weight loss, heart attacks etc should read as much of these articles as possible. None of the authors stand to make anything from their research but it makes excellent sensible reading. A must is the first one. A few of quotes that may entice you to read more:-

" ... we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories weighed the least and were the most physically active."

" ... the ominous fact that the group taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs had an increase in deaths from cancer, stroke, violence and suicide."

" ... Physicians, however, have "seen the advantages of using drugs for cholesterol lowering" as a way of creating patients out of healthy people. "

" ... the Masai in Africa, whose diet is extremely rich in cholesterol and saturated fat, and who are virtually free of heart disease."

" ... found that women who consumed mostly vegetable oils had far more wrinkles than those who used traditional animal fats."

Those quotes came from the first article below and follow the links to subsequent chapters.

Second is this one

and then a boook written in the 1950's that was ahead of its time and is now free on the Internet. My wife and I read this decades ago and it it is all beginning to fit together. Eat Fat and Grow Slim is available here. No faddy diets - no medication - no surgery.

And it all goes full circle from the 1950s back to 2008 with this article copied below.

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What if bad fat isn’t so bad?

No one's ever proved that saturated fat clogs arteries, causes heart disease.

Suppose you were forced to live on a diet of red meat and whole milk. A diet that, all told, was at least 60 percent fat — about half of it saturated. If your first thoughts are of statins and stents, you may want to consider the curious case of the Masai, a nomadic tribe in Kenya and Tanzania.

In the 1960s, a Vanderbilt University scientist named George Mann, M.D., found that Masai men consumed this very diet (supplemented with blood from the cattle they herded). Yet these nomads, who were also very lean, had some of the lowest levels of cholesterol ever measured and were virtually free of heart disease.

Scientists, confused by the finding, argued that the tribe must have certain genetic protections against developing high cholesterol. But when British researchers monitored a group of Masai men who moved to Nairobi and began consuming a more modern diet, they discovered that the men's cholesterol subsequently skyrocketed.

Similar observations were made of the Samburu — another Kenyan tribe — as well as the Fulani of Nigeria. While the findings from these cultures seem to contradict the fact that eating saturated fat leads to heart disease, it may surprise you to know that this "fact" isn't a fact at all. It is, more accurately, a hypothesis from the 1950s that's never been proved.

The first scientific indictment of saturated fat came in 1953. That's the year a physiologist named Ancel Keys, Ph.D., published a highly influential paper titled "Atherosclerosis, a Problem in Newer Public Health". Keys wrote that while the total death rate in the United States was declining, the number of deaths due to heart disease was steadily climbing. And to explain why, he presented a comparison of fat intake and heart disease mortality in six countries: the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Italy, and Japan.

The Americans ate the most fat and had the greatest number of deaths from heart disease; the Japanese ate the least fat and had the fewest deaths from heart disease. The other countries fell neatly in between. The higher the fat intake, according to national diet surveys, the higher the rate of heart disease. And vice versa. Keys called this correlation a "remarkable relationship" and began to publicly hypothesize that consumption of fat causes heart disease. This became known as the diet-heart hypothesis.

At the time, plenty of scientists were skeptical of Keys's assertions. One such critic was Jacob Yerushalmy, Ph.D., founder of the biostatistics graduate program at the University of California at Berkeley. In a 1957 paper, Yerushalmy pointed out that while data from the six countries Keys examined seemed to support the diet-heart hypothesis, statistics were actually available for 22 countries. And when all 22 were analyzed, the apparent link between fat consumption and heart disease disappeared. For example, the death rate from heart disease in Finland was 24 times that of Mexico, even though fat-consumption rates in the two nations were similar.

The other salient criticism of Keys's study was that he had observed only a correlation between two phenomena, not a clear causative link. So this left open the possibility that something else — unmeasured or unimagined — was leading to heart disease. After all, Americans did eat more fat than the Japanese, but perhaps they also consumed more sugar and white bread, and watched more television.

Despite the apparent flaws in Keys's argument, the diet-heart hypothesis was compelling, and it was soon heavily promoted by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the media. It offered the worried public a highly educated guess as to why the country was in the midst of a heart-disease epidemic. "People should know the facts," Keys said in a 1961 interview with Time magazine, for which he appeared on the cover. "Then if they want to eat themselves to death, let them."

The seven-countries study, published in 1970, is considered Ancel Keys's landmark achievement. It seemed to lend further credence to the diet-heart hypothesis. In this study, Keys reported that in the seven countries he selected — the United States, Japan, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Finland, and the Netherlands — animal-fat intake was a strong predictor of heart attacks over a 5-year period. Just as important, he noted an association between total cholesterol and heart-disease mortality. This prompted him to conclude that the saturated fats in animal foods — and not other types of fat — raise cholesterol and ultimately lead to heart disease.

Naturally, proponents of the diet-heart hypothesis hailed the study as proof that eating saturated fat leads to heart attacks. But the data was far from rock solid. That's because in three countries (Finland, Greece, and Yugoslavia), the correlation wasn't seen.

For example, eastern Finland had five times as many heart-attack fatalities and twice as much heart disease as western Finland, despite only small differences between the two regions in animal-fat intake and cholesterol levels. And while Keys provided that raw data in his report, he glossed over it as a finding. Perhaps a larger problem, though, was his assumption that saturated fat has an unhealthy effect on cholesterol levels.

Trio of saturated fats
Although more than a dozen types of saturated fat exist, humans predominantly consume three: stearic acid, palmitic acid, and lauric acid. This trio comprises almost 95 percent of the saturated fat in a hunk of prime rib, a slice of bacon, or a piece of chicken skin, and nearly 70 percent of that in butter and whole milk.

Today, it's well established that stearic acid has no effect on cholesterol levels. In fact, stearic acid — which is found in high amounts in cocoa as well as animal fat — is converted to a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid in your liver. This is the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. As a result, scientists generally regard this saturated fatty acid as either benign or potentially beneficial to your health.

Palmitic and lauric acid, however, are known to raise total cholesterol. But here's what's rarely reported: Research shows that although both of these saturated fatty acids increase LDL ("bad") cholesterol, they raise HDL ("good") cholesterol just as much, if not more. And this lowers your risk of heart disease. That's because it's commonly believed that LDL cholesterol lays down plaque on your artery walls, while HDL removes it. So increasing both actually reduces the proportion of bad cholesterol in your blood to the good kind. This may explain why numerous studies have reported that this HDL/LDL ratio is a better predictor of future heart disease than LDL alone.

All of this muddies Keys's claim of a clear connection between saturated-fat intake, cholesterol, and heart disease. If saturated fat doesn't raise cholesterol in such a way that it increases heart-disease risk, then according to the scientific method, the diet-heart hypothesis must be rejected. However, in 1977 it was still a promising idea.

That was the year Congress made it government policy to recommend a low-fat diet, based primarily on the opinions of health experts who supported the diet-heart hypothesis. It was a decision met with much criticism from the scientific community, including the American Medical Association. After all, officially endorsing a low-fat diet could change the eating habits of millions of Americans, and the potential effects of this strategy were widely debated and certainly unproved.

We've spent billions of our tax dollars trying to prove the diet-heart hypothesis. Yet study after study has failed to provide definitive evidence that saturated-fat intake leads to heart disease. The most recent example is the Women's Health Initiative, the government's largest and most expensive ($725 million) diet study yet. The results, published last year, show that a diet low in total fat and saturated fat had no impact in reducing heart-disease and stroke rates in some 20,000 women who had adhered to the regimen for an average of 8 years.

But this paper, like many others, plays down its own findings and instead points to four studies that, many years ago, apparently did find a link between saturated fat and heart disease. Because of this, it's worth taking a closer look at each.

The Los Angeles VA Hospital Study (1969) This UCLA study of 850 men reported that those who replaced saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats were less likely to die of heart disease and stroke over a 5-year period than were men who didn't alter their diets. However, more of those who changed their diets died of cancer, and the average age of death was the same in both groups. What's more, "through an oversight," the study authors neglected to collect crucial data on smoking habits from about 100 men. They also reported that the men successfully adhered to the diet only half the time.

The Oslo Diet-Heart Study (1970) Two hundred men followed a diet low in saturated fat for 5 years while another group ate as they pleased. The dieters had fewer heart attacks, but there was no difference in total deaths between the two groups.

The Finnish Mental Hospital Study (1979) This trial took place from 1959 to 1971 and appeared to document a reduction in heart disease in psychiatric patients following a "cholesterol-lowering" diet. But the experiment was poorly controlled: Almost half of the 700 participants joined or left the study over its 12-year duration.

The St. Thomas' Atherosclerosis Regression Study (1992) Only 74 men completed this 3-year study conducted at St. Thomas' Hospital, in London. It found a reduction in cardiac events among men with heart disease who adopted a low-fat diet. There's a major caveat, though: Their prescribed diets were also low in sugar.

Flawed studies
These four studies, even though they have serious flaws and are tiny compared with the Women's Health Initiative, are often cited as definitive proof that saturated fats cause heart disease. Many other more recent trials cast doubt on the diet-heart hypothesis. These studies should be considered in the context of all the other research.

In 2000, a respected international group of scientists called the Cochrane Collaboration conducted a "meta-analysis" of the scientific literature on cholesterol-lowering diets. After applying rigorous selection criteria (219 trials were excluded), the group examined 27 studies involving more than 18,000 participants. Although the authors concluded that cutting back on dietary fat may help reduce heart disease, their published data actually shows that diets low in saturated fats have no significant effect on mortality, or even on deaths due to heart attacks.

"I was disappointed that we didn't find something more definitive," says Lee Hooper, Ph.D., who led the Cochrane review. If this exhaustive analysis didn't provide evidence of the dangers of saturated fat, says Hooper, it was probably because the studies reviewed didn't last long enough, or perhaps because the participants didn't lower their saturated-fat intake enough. Of course, there is a third possibility, which Hooper doesn't mention: The diet-heart hypothesis is incorrect.

Ronald Krauss, M.D., won't say saturated fats are good for you. "But," he concedes, "we don't have convincing evidence that they're bad, either."

For 30 years, Dr. Krauss — an adjunct professor of nutritional sciences at the University of California at Berkeley — has been studying the effect of diet and blood lipids on cardiovascular disease. He points out that while some studies show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats lowers heart-disease risk, this doesn't mean that saturated fats lead to clogged arteries. "It may simply suggest that unsaturated fats are an even healthier option," he says.

But there's more to this story: In 1980, Dr. Krauss and his colleagues discovered that LDL cholesterol is far from the simple "bad" particle it's commonly thought to be. It actually comes in a series of different sizes, known as subfractions. Some LDL subfractions are large and fluffy. Others are small and dense. This distinction is important.

A decade ago, Canadian researchers reported that men with the highest number of small, dense LDL subfractions had four times the risk of developing clogged arteries than those with the fewest. Yet they found no such association for the large, fluffy particles. These findings were confirmed in subsequent studies.

Link to heart disease
Now here's the saturated-fat connection: Dr. Krauss found that when people replace the carbohydrates in their diet with fat — saturated or unsaturated — the number of small, dense LDL particles decreases. This leads to the highly counterintuitive notion that replacing your breakfast cereal with eggs and bacon could actually reduce your risk of heart disease.

Men, more than women, are predisposed to having small, dense LDL. However, the propensity is highly flexible and, according to Dr. Krauss, can be switched on when people eat high-carb, low-fat diets or switched off when they reduce carbs and eat diets high in fat, including the saturated variety. "There's a subgroup of people at high risk of heart disease who may respond well to diets low in fat," says Dr. Krauss. "But the majority of healthy people seem to derive very little benefit from these low-fat diets, in terms of heart-disease risk factors, unless they also lose weight and exercise. And if a low-fat diet is also loaded with carbs, it can actually result in adverse changes in blood lipids."

While Dr. Krauss is much published and highly respected — he has served twice as chairman of the writing committee of the AHA's dietary guidelines — the far-reaching implications of his work have not been generally acknowledged. "Academic scientists believe saturated fat is bad for you," says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of nutritional studies at Penn State University, citing as evidence the "many studies" she believes show it to be true. But not everyone accepts those studies, and their proponents find it hard to be heard. Kris-Etherton acknowledges that "there's a good deal of reluctance toward accepting evidence suggesting the contrary."

Take, for example, a 2004 Harvard University study of older women with heart disease. Researchers found that the more saturated fat these women consumed, the less likely it was their condition would worsen. Lead study author Dariush Mozaffarian, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Harvard's school of public health, recalls that before the paper was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, he encountered formidable politics from other journals.

"In the nutrition field, it's very difficult to get something published that goes against  established dogma," says Mozaffarian. "The dogma says that saturated fat is harmful, but that is not based, to me, on unequivocal evidence." Mozaffarian says he believes it's critical that scientists remain open minded. "Our finding was surprising to us. And when there's a discovery that goes against what's established, it shouldn't be suppressed but rather disseminated and explored as much as possible."

Biased studies
Perhaps the apparent bias against saturated fat is most evident in studies on low-carbohydrate diets. Many versions of this approach are controversial because they place no limitations on saturated-fat intake. As a result, supporters of the diet-heart hypothesis have argued that low-carb diets will increase the risk of heart disease. But published research doesn't show this to be the case. When people on low-carb diets have been compared head-to-head with those on low-fat diets, the low-carb dieters typically scored significantly better on markers of heart disease, including small, dense LDL cholesterol, HDL/LDL ratio, and triglycerides, which are a measure of the amount of fat circulating in your blood.

For example, in a new 12-week study, University of Connecticut scientists placed overweight men and women on either a low-carb or low-fat diet. Those who followed the low-carb diet consumed 36 grams of saturated fat per day (22 percent of total calories), which represented more than three times the amount in the low-fat diet. Yet despite this considerably greater intake of saturated fat, the low-carb dieters reduced both their number of small, dense LDL cholesterol and their HDL/LDL ratio to a greater degree than those who ate a low-fat diet. In addition, triglycerides decreased by 51 percent in the low-carb group — compared with 19 percent in the low-fat group.

This finding is worth noting, because even though cholesterol is the most commonly cited risk factor for heart disease, triglyceride levels may be equally relevant. In a 40-year study at the University of Hawaii, scientists found that low triglyceride levels at middle age best predicted "exceptional survival" — defined as living until age 85 without suffering from a major disease.

According to lead study author Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., two factors influence the amount of fat coursing through your veins. The first, of course, is the amount of fat you eat. But the more important factor is less obvious. Turns out, your body makes fat from carbohydrates. It works like this: The carbs you eat (particularly starches and sugar) are absorbed into your bloodstream as sugar. As your carb intake rises, so does your blood sugar. This causes your body to release the hormone insulin. Insulin's job is to return your blood sugar to normal, but it also signals your body to store fat. As a result, your liver starts converting excess blood sugar to triglycerides, or fat.

All of which helps explain why the low-carb dieters in Volek's study had a greater loss of fat in their blood. Restricting carbs keeps insulin levels low, which lowers your internal production of fat and allows more of the fat you do eat to be burned for energy.

Yet even with this emerging data and the lack of scientific support for the diet-heart hypothesis, the latest AHA dietary guidelines have reduced the recommended amount of saturated fat from 10 percent of daily calories to 7 percent or less. "The idea was to encourage people to decrease their saturated-fat intake even further, because there's a linear relationship between saturated-fat intake and LDL cholesterol," says Alice H. Lichtenstein, Ph.D., Sc.D., who led the AHA nutrition committee that wrote the recommendation.

What about Krauss's findings that not all LDL is equal? Lichtenstein says that her committee didn't address them, but that it might in the future.

It could be that it's not bad foods that cause heart disease, it's bad habits. After all, in Volek's study, participants who followed the low-fat diet — which was high in carbs — also decreased their triglycerides. "The key factor is that they weren't overeating," says Volek. "This allowed the carbohydrates to be used for energy rather than converted to fat." Perhaps this is the most important point of all. If you consistently consume more calories than you burn, and you gain weight, your risk of heart disease will increase — whether you favor eating saturated fats, carbs, or both.

But if you're living a healthy lifestyle — you aren't overweight, you don't smoke, you exercise regularly — then the composition of your diet may matter much less. And, based on the research of Volek and Dr. Krauss, a weight-loss or -maintenance diet in which some carbohydrates are replaced with fat — even if it's saturated — will reduce markers of heart-disease risk more than if you followed a low-fat, high-carb diet.

"The message isn't that you should gorge on butter, bacon, and cheese," says Volek. "It's that there's no scientific reason that natural foods containing saturated fat can't, or shouldn't, be part of a healthy diet."

By Nina Teicholz Dec13th 2007

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