How ‘low fat’ is hurting us
As I stared at disbelief at the coconut milk in front of me, a frown formed at the anticipation of the atery-clogging, saturated fat-laden cocktail that I was about to consume. 4 ounces total, 28 grams of fat…….
Years later after having it every day, and a great deal of research, I wonder how I was ever so worried…..
For many years, fat was a normal part of the daily American diet. And people weren’t fat. In fact, they were much skinner than they are today. Then, several decades ago, we came up with a new idea: Let’s tell people that eating fat is bad, and sell them “low fat” foods.
If you haven’t looked around lately, obesity is an epidemic. According to Men’s Health July/Aug 2011, Obesity rates have nearly tripled in the last 30 years. You’d think we must be eating very fattening foods, right? Shockingly, NO. According to that same citation, the percentage of energy we obtain from fat has decreased from 37% to 34%. Furthermore, the percentage of energy we get from carbohydrates has increased from 44% to 49%. In other words, we gave up eating the fats, and ended up getting fatter….
That’s staggering: 1970’s: Higher fat diet, skinnier Americans. Today–low fat diet, fatter Americans.
But Dr. Mike, what about heart disease? All that artery clogging fat will kill us, right?
Sounds good, but far from reality:
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1995) reviewed death trends from coronary disease (heart disease) and stroke in Spain from the years 1966-1990. Researchers found that in that within that time period, meat, dairy products, and fish consumption all increased (substantial saturated fat in these items). During that same time period, sugar and carbohydrate consumption decreased. Strokes and heart disease went through the roof, right? NO
They actually found that numbers of strokes and heart disease cases went down.
A 16-year study from Harvard Medical School of 85,764 women included two groups, a high-saturated fat eating group, and a low-saturated fat consuming group. They found that the women who ate the lowest amount of saturated fats were about twice as likely to develop a particular type of stroke called an intraparenchymal hemorrhage.
(In other words, less saturated fat, more likelihood for stroke).
According to Jean Ferrieres, from his book, The French Paradox: Lessons From Other Countries, the French eat about 4 times more butter than Americans eat. (My goodness, that’s 400% more!) Yet they have much lower rates of death from vascular disease than Americans.
Another study of the Masai tribes in Africa found that their diets consist of, among other things, full-fat milk, large amounts of beef. The men of the tribes consume almost a pound of saturated fat on a daily basis. (A full pound!). From studies of Autopsies found that almost no arterial plaque existed.
What exactly is the point?
First, that fat is critical for us to survive, and that the “low fat” fad is hurting us.
Second, that if you want to be healthy, that you incorporate more natural foods (like grass-fed beef, wild salmon, avocados, coconut milk, coconut oil, olive oil, raw unsalted almonds, flax seed, macadamia nuts, cashews, sesame seeds, walnuts, organic, cage-free eggs, butter, and where appropriate, organic produce). Most of these foods have a significantly higher fat content and/or lower carbohydrate content than you’ll get in the typical American diet.
Furthermore, that you ALWAYS avoid trans fatty acids (extremely harmful to your heart), hydrogenated fats, and sugar, which is connected to many chronic diseases.
And finally, to avoid packages of chemically-laden “low fat” concoctions. For more tools to help you lose weight and get the proper nutrients, click here.
Serra-Majem, Lourdes Ribbas, et al. (1995). How Could Changes in Diet Explain Changes in Coronary Heart Disease Mortality In Spain? The Spanish Paradox. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1995; 61 (suppl): 1351S-9S
Men’s Journal Aug, 2011. Weight Loss Bulletin: Our Big Fat Carb Problem
Ferries, Jean (2004). The French Paradox: Lessons From Other Countries. Heart 90 (1) : 107-111
Hiroyasu Iso, MD; Meir J. Stampfer, MD; JoAnn E. Manson, MD, et el) (2001). Prospective Study of Fat and Protein Intake and Risk of Intraparenchymal Hemorrhage in Women. Clinical Investigations and Reports 103:856-863
Sidney Langford Hinde and Hildegarde Beatrice Hinde: The Last of the Masai (2010)