Recent evidence concludes that eating fat does NOT make you fat, therefore is the wrong macro-nutrient to be omitting from one's diet.
The 90’s witnessed a fitness and health revolution. Not only were short shorts ‘in’, but fat became the ‘culprit’ believed to contribute to a variety of health problems. This caused health professionals and nutritionists alike to condemn the macro-nutrient and recommend ‘low-fat’ diets.
But since the fit fad and diet craze began, nutritional science has improved tremendously and released new findings proving that ‘fat’ is not the culprit in peoples’ diets. In fact, it is going without enough that could actually be contributing to modern-day diseases of affluence.
Dr. Mark Hyman, the physician called in to help President Clinton recover from bypass surgery, warns that fat is not the culprit people should be worrying about. The concern should instead be processed carbohydrates which he believes are to blame for making the population fat and sick.
He backs this claim by pointing to a review of data from the British Journal of Medicine that shatters the myth that fat causes obesity and heart disease. In the data, researchers found that while lowering saturated fat in the diet may lower total cholesterol, it actually lowers the good cholesterol (LDL), not the bad kind (HDL).
According to Dr. Hyman and other physicians who follow the advice of Weston A. Price, even saturated fats are a healthy type of fat to consume. One study cited by Dr. Hyman refutes the idea that reduced dietary saturated fat improves cardiovascular health. Evidence summarized by researches related to dietary saturated fat and risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease found that there was no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease.
One of the appreciated characteristics of dietary fat is that it helps people feel satiated and complete after eating a normal-sized meal. When less fat is consumed, the tendency is to try and find the feeling of satiation by eating more starchy and sugary foods. But since these cannot match the feelings produced by fats, the outcome is to eat even more and more starches and sugars, racking up high numbers of calories, and resulting in weight gain.
Intriguingly, a study from the University of California found that most people who have a heart attack also have normal overall cholesterol levels. But Type 2 diabetes is prevalent in this cohort, therefore it is presumed that heart disease has more of a correlation with eating higher amounts of processed carbohydrates rather than fat.
What type of FAT does Dr. Hyman recommend?
Not all fat is created equal, quality is of the utmost importance. The following are healthy fats Dr. Hyman recommends making staples in your diet:
Nuts, including walnuts, almonds, pecans, but not peanuts
Seeds including pumpkin, sesame, chia and hemp
Fatty fish including sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon
Extra virgin olive oil
Grass-fed sustainably raised animal products
Saturated fats such as extra virgin coconut butter
By willingly choosing to abstain from healthy high-fat consumption in favor of low-fat diets, “The American public became participants in the largest uncontrolled experiment in history,” says nutrition authority Kris Gunnars. Advised to avoid saturated fat and cholesterol for decades – even though there was no evidence to support such advice – the repercussions from such choices are now able to be studied, and the advice reformed.
Gunnars notes that “the experiment has not turned out well, and we are still suffering the consequences in the form of the obesity epidemic, which began shortly after the low-fat guidelines were issued (followed by the diabetes epidemic).” While the events may be only correlational, it seems that low-fat eating has indeed led people to dismiss healthy whole foods like butter, meat, and eggs – replacing them with processed foods high in refined carbohydrates and low on the nutritional scale.
Many large studies released in the past few years have found no advantage to the low-fat diet. “Despite miserable results from these studies, many nutritionists all over the world continue to recommend the low-fat diet,” states Gunnars.
Weston A. Price knew all of this as far back as the 1930’s. He was a dentist who searched for an answer to tooth decay in many locations around the world, studying the diets of indigenous people and their teeth. He found that butter and other saturated fats were staples in the diets of populations displaying supreme health – likely due to their high vitamin A, D, K2, and fat-soluble vitamins. When butter and other saturated fats were a central ingredient in the diet, children grew to be robust, sturdy, and free of tooth decay.
Dietary guidelines outlined by The Weston Price Foundation were posted in the year 2000, shortly before the natural health movement began building momentum, and are echoed in many of today’s natural health articles.
Similar to Dr. Hyman’s suggestions, the Weston Price Foundation’s guidelines for fats is: Use only traditional fats and oils, including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller pressed sesame and flax oil, and the tropical oils – coconut and palm.
Perhaps it’s time for a new way of thinking? To do the same thing again and again, expecting different results, is after all the definition of insanity (thank you, Einstein)… Therefore if diseases of affluence continue to rise in prevalence even while the population tries its hardest to abstain from fat, perhaps reformed nutritional guidelines are in order.