The Time Has Come: You Can Eat Saturated Fat Now
For years I used to read the latest nutrition research.
After a while I became jaded and fatigued by the constant disagreement and disparity between study after study. To this day, new research continues to contradict old research.
Yet what bothered me the most, was that those who were paid to give out nutritional guidance would continue to offer the same formula – in parrot-like fashion. It was rare to hear that nutrition was complex and bewildering, and maybe the experts didn’t have all the answers.
What You Were Told
Somewhere in the 60s and 70s, under the guidance of the American Heart Association, fat was seen as the enemy.
Over time a titanic shift occurred in our attitudes towards food. Fat was out, carbohydrates were in. We were given a food pyramid and told to eat bread, pasta, and avoid fat.
The food and diet industry joined hands, eliminating fat and adding sugar. These foods were given a health halo.
Then things started to get confusing. There were all kinds of different fats. It seemed that some were okay, but some were bad. We were told to avoid saturated fats, and eat processed vegetable oils.
Entire foods fell in and out of favor: Eggs were to be avoided. No, wait, maybe they were okay. Uh, actually they might be quite good.
And how we began to worry and stress about food.
Artery Clogging Saturated Fat?
It seemed that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol was the problem. Apparently it caused heart disease.
However an increasing body of research is showing something different.
- The human body and its interaction with dietary nutrition is far, far more complex than we ever imagined.
- Cholesterol is also far more difficult to understand than first thought.
- Maybe saturated fat was never the problem.
- Shockingly, the very advice to eat more refined carbohydrates and reduced fat intake could be a major contributor to our growing waistlines and alarming levels of obesity.
One large UK study looked at 72 different studies and found that there was no clear evidence that lowering saturated fats reduced heart disease. The lead researcher said that “refined carbohydrates, sugar and salt are all potentially harmful for vascular health” (BBC).
(Caveat: In true nutrition fashion, there are debunkers of the debunkers, with some questioning the meta-study’s methods.)
I think it’s time to stop being afraid of food. It’s a hard habit to break.
- Go after whole foods, and stop worrying about fat.
- Eat eggs and avocados.
- Don’t be scared of coconut oil.
- Put some butter on that potato (yes the butter will slow blood-sugar spike from the potato).
Don’t forget that fats are a more calorie-dense food group than proteins and carbs, so don’t go overboard.
Focusing on a single nutrient or food group as the source of all our health and obesity woes is a mistake.
Fleeing from sugar is not the cure-all: we must maintain an “entire life context” if we hope to improve health outcomes.