This is a post that I have been hinting at for a long time, but have hesitated to actually sit down and write. This is one topic that people for some reason get edgy about, like I’m poking at your dogma and asking you to step into a whole new belief system. And really, when it comes down to it, I am!
And what is that belief that I’m telling you isn’t true? Hold on to your hats, here we go:
Fat is bad for you.
Maybe we could even get a little more specific:
Fat from animal products is bad for you.
And now there you are, nodding your cute little head up and down, right? After all, you’ve been taught this for decades, and by people you trust like the FDA, your doctor, your parents, and even very popular publications. It must be true, right? Right?
Sorry, you have been tricked!
Here’s how the whole mess got started. Once upon a time, there was a man named Ancel Keys. Ancel was a scientist who was very interested in how food affected the body. He had a theory that fat, especially fat from animal products like meat, cheese, and our beloved butter, caused high cholesterol and heart disease. He conducted what is now known as the “Seven Country Study,” where he tested men in seven different countries on his theory. And the data seemed to match perfectly! It matched so well that Time Magazine slapped him on their cover in January of 1961, and his theory went viral. Soon the FDA and most doctors were parroting Dr. Keys’s theory, and the war on fat was declared. Soon the entire U.S. was on a low-fat diet. Skim milk showed up in people’s refrigerators, and margarine appeared, claiming to be a healthy substitute for butter.
And then, because of so many people changing their diets, obesity rates went right down, heart disease became nearly nonexistent, and the three medical problems that seems to always show up at the same time; high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes; all were nearly eradicated.
But wait, that’s not what happened at all, is it? If Dr. Keys’s theory were true, why have heart disease rates jumped so dramatically since the onslaught of low-fat food in our grocery stores? Why is our American obesity epidemic moving toward pandemic levels? Why is the trifecta of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes more rampant than ever before? Thankfully this country is having an awakening, and more and more people are discovering the answer to these questions.
Fat isn’t the problem after all.
There were a few problems with Ancel Keys’s study, the main one being that the seven countries that he chose were those that would most support his theory. He completely ignored France and other similar countries where the diet is rich in fats, and yet had heart disease rates that are incredibly low. Another thing his study completely ignored? Sugar. Those countries that had the highest instances of heart disease, also consumed the most sugar, along with their high fat diets.
Fat is actually good for you!
Ok, everyone knows there are “good” fats and “bad” fats out there, but it can be so confusing to know which is which. For example, I have seen canola oil in the grocery store with great big claims on the label that say, “Heart healthy!” There will be a large blog post coming about why I won’t touch canola or other vegetable oils with a 10 foot pole, and why they are anything but heart healthy, but for now I’ll just tell you to please don’t ever touch that stuff. I just love you too much to allow that. On the other hand, poor butter has been demonized, when the truth is that butter is actually a very nutritious food. Butter is high in vitamins A and E, which is awesome. But even better than that, if the butter is from grass-fed cows, it is a great source of vitamin K2, a vitamin that most people are severely deficient in. All of these vitamins are fat soluble, and it just so happens that the butter provides the fat needed for your body to use the vitamins. It’s a pretty perfect package, really.
I’m going to sum it up with this basic list of good fats and ones you should avoid:
- Olive oil (some olive oil is cut with canola or vegetable oil, do some research to find a good one)
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut and seed butters (look for ones with no added sugars)
- Butter!!! Hooray for butter!
- Trans fats in any form
- Margarine or other fake butters
- Vegetable and canola oils
- Any other oil that is processed at very high temperatures
Here is an article I found that has lots of great information.
How do you feel about fats? I asked about butter on Facebook and I know I am preaching to the choir here, but did you find out anything new? And who do you know that is resisting the new found love for butter?