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June 20, 1990

Fats, Oil, Health

Author Affiliations

Danville, Ill

Danville, Ill

JAMA. 1990;263(23):3147. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440230042012

To the Editor.—  Much is being written about cholesterol. The general public is as confused as we in the medical profession are. I read no convincing evidence that pure, unadulterated dietary cholesterol has a bearing on serum cholesterol, but I do read about saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats having an effect on serum cholesterol level.It is known to cooks that oils are different. Peanut oil has a high flash point; olive oil smokes when it is heated; lard makes the best piecrust.The evidence that olive oil is "good" for cholesterol problems grows1; conversely, coconut oil is "bad,"2 etc. Each oil and fat has its own profile of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated oils.No one is listening to the cooks, who tell us that the combinations do different things. Why does not the same thing hold true—that the effect of oil on cholesterol depends on its total