cooking with butterThere are inflection points in history when things change. After this it can be hard to remember why there was a change and what were things like before. I was thinking about this when grappling with the non-stick fry pan, which seems to “stick”.

Some refuse to use these pans citing concerns about the health effects of Teflon and other chemicals. This does not worry me. The question is why did they get so popular and how did we manage before?

The answer is of course, that prior to the invention of non-stick pans we used to cook with fats. We cooked with oil, butter or even lard. There was no need for a non-stick surface as the use of fats on cooking prevented sticking of the food. Plus it added flavour.

But then came the inflection point where fats became the bad guy. Suddenly it was unhealthy to cook with fat. Thus a solution was needed and hence the rise in popularity of non-stick cooking surfaces. To be fair, when all goes according to plan they are easy to clean. But when the surface starts to fade this is not the case. I must confess to frustration when the scrambled eggs “stick” to the “non stick” fry pan.

Fortunately there is a solution, which I will come to later.

But first, two more major reviews have come out further refuting the fat is bad orthodoxy so beloved by public health and various foundations. A review, published on PLOS One, involving over 600,000 people followed for close to 11 years and 6.5 million people years of follow up, showed no, and I repeat no relationship between the consumption of butter and either heart disease, diabetes or mortality. In other word eating butter did not lead to a shorter life or increase the risks of diabetes or heart disease.

A second review, published in the BMJ, of over 70, 000 people found no association between “bad cholesterol” (LDL) and premature death in people over the age of 60. Once more this bears repeating, those with lower “bad” cholesterol did not live any longer. In turn this makes a mockery of the push to lower these levels with statin medications. The authors of this study called for a review of guidelines for preventing heart disease on the (in my opinion correct) basis that taking these medications does not improve the quality or quantity of life in many if not most people taking them.

Meanwhile though, I received a circular entitled “Ask an expert” which tells me that lower is better and that the targets for LDL have been progressively lowered due to the “demonstrated greater reductions in cardiovascular events”. The “expert” does not declare whether or not he receives any money from the company, which put this information out.

A third review looked at much of the data on statins. It found that trials from before 2006(when there was change in regulations of trials), were less reliable and those after 2006 which were inconsistent in their results. It identified bias in the reporting of adverse effects.

They concluded “this review strongly suggest that statins are not effective for cardiovascular prevention. The studies published before 2005/06 were probably flawed…” It added, “A complete reassessment is mandatory. Until then physicians should be aware that the present claims about the efficacy of statins and safety of statins are not evidence based”.

Clearly the doctor from “ask an expert” hasn’t caught up with this.

The fat is bad mantra and the belief that lower cholesterol is better has lead to high rates of prescribing of statins. It has lead people to eat low fat diets, which are, in fact, harmful to health as they contribute to obesity and type two diabetes. It also leads us to use non-stick cookware as part of our avoidance of fats.

Thus, the solution to non stick cookware that sticks is simple. Forget non stick cookware – cook with butter in the pan!