Cover mage from HealthImpactNews.com.
Apart from trans fats, fat is good for you. 80 years ago people ate mainly saturated fat (the kind that comes from meat, lard, dripping, butter, cream and cheese), and as a result coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity were almost unknown. If you get your calories from fat and protein you will probably put on less weight than if you get the same number of calories from starchy carbohydrates and sugars. That's because fats and proteins satisfy our hunger more than starchy carbohydrates and sugars do. However, eating too much polyunsaturated fat (the kind that comes mainly from temperate seed-bearing plants - maize/corn oil, soya/soy beans, vegetable/rapeseed/Canola oil, sunflower oil, etc.) causes inflammation and oxidative stress, and that is one of the main reasons that so many people are suffering from diet-related diseases today.
Fat is an essential part of our diet, but over the last 100 years four major mistakes have been made.
1. Trans fats.
In 1902 Wilhelm Normann patented a process for thickening vegetable oils and giving them a longer lifespan in order to manufacture a cheaper substitute for butter and lard. Normann's process was called 'hydrogenation', and the resulting new type of fat was called trans fat. In 1911 Proctor and Gamble acquired the patent rights and began to market 'Crisco' for use in cookery and at the table. Over the next 50 or 60 years more and more transfats were used in food as people replaced animals fats with plant-based ones.
But around 1988 a suspicion arose that trans fats were causing heart disease, and by 1994 it was estimated that in the USA they were causing 30,000 heart disease deaths a year. Nowadays trans fats are all but banned, but they are still used in very small quantities in some spreads and baked products in the USA.
2. Replacing animal fats by vegetable fats was a mistake.
In 1953 an American scientist named Ancel Keys published a paper which appeared to show that saturated fat (which is the main kind of fat found in meat, dripping, lard, butter, milk and cheese) was the main cause of the growing epidemic of coronary heart disease. As a result people ate less butter, etc., and ate more and more fat derived from oil-bearing seeds such as maize, oilseed rape, soya beans, ('corn', 'Canola' and 'soybeans' respectively in North America), sunflowers and cottonseeds, etc.
These temperate vegetable-based oils consist mainly of polyunsaturated fats, which create two health problems when eaten in excess. One is that they oxidise more easily than saturated fats, especially when heated, producing what are called free radicals that can damage body tissue. The other is that they contain far more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 ones, and the resulting imbalance produces internal inflammation that causes a whole host of health problems. Tropical oils such as virgin olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil don't cause these problems, because they consist mostly of saturated and monounsaturated fats.
3. Encouraging people to lose weight by adopting a low fat diet was a mistake.
Although it seems obvious that eating fat makes a person fat, the opposite is actually true, provided of course that one doesn't eat fat in excess. Low-fat foods do not satisfy hunger as long as equivalent quantities of foods containing larger proportions of fat and protein, and many tests have shown that to lose weight, limiting one's calorie intake on a high fat, high protein diet is more effective than on a low fat, high carbohydrate one. In old books of children’s nursery rhymes, Jack Sprat who ate no fat was always pictured as skinny, while his wife who ate no lean was always depicted as a fatty. In reality it is more likely they would have been the other way round!
In my food blog of April 10th 2019 ("Eat a high protein breakfast to keep your weight down”) I wrote about some research among young overweight adults who normally ate no breakfast. Those who ate a low fat breakfast during the period of the research gained weight, while those who ate a high protein, high fat breakfast lost weight, even though previously they had eaten no breakfast at all!
4. Saying that cholesterol fat is bad for us was a mistake.
Cholesterol is a form of fat mainly manufactured by the liver. The belief that it causes heart disease and that lowering one's cholesterol level artificially is conducive to health is almost entirely untrue. This has been proved by many research projects which I’ve described in my book Twenty-First Century Nutrition and Family Health.
Furthermore, dietary fat has no effect on cholesterol levels. For example, in Framingham, Massachusetts, the diet and health of over 5000 men and women were monitored over a period of 20 years. Those who had very high cholesterol levels (over 300mg/dl) were compared with those who had very low levels (under 170mg/dl). There was no difference in the overall amount of fat that the two groups consumed in their diets. In other words, the amount of fat we eat has nothing at all to do with our cholesterol levels. Even eating cholesterol-rich foods does not affect our blood cholesterol levels. Eggs contain some cholesterol, so Dr. Uffe Ravnskov once ate 59 eggs is 9 days to see if a cholesterol-rich diet would increase his blood cholesterol. It didn’t. His cholesterol level actually fell by 11%!
If you have children, or are hoping to have them, you really ought to read my book Twenty-First Century Nutrition and Family Health and start putting its advice into practice so that your kids don't become overweight or suffer heart attacks because of the kinds of food that the food industry is feeding to most of us nowadays. A lifetime of health for the price of a visit to Starbucks is an investment opportunity that it would be irresponsible to ignore!