What if saturated fats isn’t so bad after all?

What if saturated fats isn’t so bad? We might have done ourselves a disservice by not eating it


 

The most recommended diet right now in the United States and many other parts of the world is one low in fat and high in carbohydrate. Before the 1960’s however it was a different story. Butter, lard and beef tallow were the standard fats used for cooking. Eating saturated fats was never a problem, until a man named Ancel Benjamin Keys entered the picture. Our notion of saturated fats as being a horrible food is so ingrained in our culture we don’t ever question it. Is just common sense. Anyone who tries to debunk this well establish concept is facing an up will battle.

Ancel Keys started the anti fat crusade. Scientists aligned with his ideas and brought the most significant and dramatic changes to the American diet. His hypothesis was that by eating saturated fats, cholesterol levels would rise causing heart disease and heart attacks. This came at a very opportune time to prove his theory, when there was an epidemic of heart attacks in the U.S. and people were looking for answers. It was somehow a very intuitive concept: “fat will gunk up your arteries and cause a heart attack”. The complete story can be read on Nina Teicholz’s book, Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. A 10 year research on how saturated fats became a prohibited diet.

Keys was PR savvy and a man thirsty for fame and recognition. He wanted to prove his hypothesizes, which is the opposite thing done in science. A hypothesis is raised and then trials begin in order to disprove it. Keys studies were riffed with flaws as he only selected human studies which favored his ideas. Due to a series of fortuitous events he gained power after the warm embrace from the medical establishment and then the vegetable oil industry. One of the most remarkable changes in dietary history was made; the substitution of saturated fats by trans fats and fat substitutes. There is no conclusive prof that saturated fats are bad for your heart, on the contrary is might protect it.

Vegetable oils and trans fats were created to replace lard, palm oil, coconut oil, and beef tallow. Margarine replaced butter and for 60 years Americans and many other parts of the world who emulate the U.S. have adopted this new diet faithfully. In addition to that, a diet rich in carbohydrates was emphasized. It didn’t matter if you ate more sugar and starches as long as you were not eating fat. The whole nutrition community, government agencies,  the American Heart Association and other powerhouse groups endorsed the new diet, and the food pyramid as we know was born. Vegetable oils, and trans fats may be the worse component of this new diet.  Study upon study proves its devastating health effects.

Diabetes and obesity

Diabetes and obesity rates have skyrocketed since the 60’s. Studies show that a diet rich in carbohydrates create obesity. An hormonal imbalance is to blame. Now we know that insulin production is he main responsible for storing fat. It doesn’t matter if you eat complex or simple carbohydrates. As long as carbohydrates are consumed on regular basis, insulin production occurs. Insulin activates the fat storage process and impedes the liver from utilizing the stored fat for energy. On the contrary, consumption of fat will trigger our fat burning system. When we eat fat the liver is jogged to start the process of utilizing fat for energy called gluconeogenesis.

Even though some new research about fat is beginning to gain recognition and carbohydrates are getting the blame, there still a big taboo when it comes to agreeing with eating fat. The guidelines for a diabetes diet are still based on carbohydrates and lean meats, and most of all the absence of any rich nutritional foods. Saturated fats could be the most beneficial dietary change for diabetics because it is nutritionally dense, offering satiety and sustenance without the need for insulin. No health care professional will touch the subject fearing being ridiculed, or worse loosing their job.

A big mistake?

What if saturated fats isn’t so bad after all, we have made one the worst public health mistakes ever. There is proof that saturated fats can offer heart protection because it raises LDL but only the large and buoyant molecules which protect the heart. We might have removed what was good for us and replaced with what is really bad: carbohydrates and sugar. Luckily many studies, doctors and scientist are coming forward and presenting new findings. However the nutritional community is still highly indoctrinated in the old established way of thinking. We could have been deprived of eating bacon and eggs, prime ribs, beef broths, butter, and cheese and lost our best heart protection and longevity in the process.

 

 

Image credit: flickr.com

 

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  6. Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease
  7. Carbohydrate Restriction has a More Favorable Impact on the Metabolic Syndrome than a Low Fat Diet
  8. An increase in dietary protein improves the blood glucose response in persons with type 2 diabetes
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  10. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a  low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus
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  16. A Reduced Ratio of Dietary Carbohydrate to Protein Improves Body Composition and Blood Lipid Profiles during Weight Loss in Adult Women

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