For more than fifty years, dietary fat has been demonized in our food supply and we have been made to think that eating low fat or non-fat foods is the key to weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. This is simply not only false but also dangerous.
High quality, healthy fats in the diet provide a multitude of benefits. Note that I said, high quality, healthy fats. That does not include trans fats, which have been implicated in a number of health related issues.
Fat is a source of energy for our cells. It is needed for the absorption of many vitamins and minerals. You can eat the healthiest, most nutrient rich food on the planet but if you don't eat enough good fat, you cannot absorb the fat soluble nutrients. We need fats to assist with blood clotting, muscle activity and nerve and cell development.
Early in the 20th century trans fats were usually only found in margarine and vegetable shortening. Food manufacturers soon discovered that by including them in other processed foods, they could extend the shelf life by keeping the added oils from becoming rancid. This was accomplished by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils making them more shelf stable. By doing so, they also changed the molecular structure of the oils, making them harmful to consumers of the products where they were found.
Trans fats cause an increase in harmful cholesterol (LDLs) and a decrease in beneficial cholesterol (HDLs). Trans fats have also been linked to increased inflammation in the body, contributing to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other lifestyle related diseases. It also contributes to insulin insensitivity, which increases the risk for type II diabetes. No amount of trans fat consumption is safe. This information was, until very recently, kept from the general public. It is only in the past few years that the tide has turned on the benefits of fat in the diet.
I recently read yet another article about how the sugar industry paid for research to implicate dietary fat, rather than sugar, as the major contributing factor for heart disease. The research was being conducted in the 1960s and was being funded by an organization called the Sugar Research Foundation. The group directed the outcome of the study to deflect blame from sugar and onto fat as the primary cause of heart disease. Interestingly enough, there was no mention of where the money for the study came from when the results were published.
The results of this so-called research has been the basis of the dietary guidance we have been given on prevention of heart disease for over fifty years. The problem is, however, we have not seen a decrease in cardiovascular health problems, but rather the opposite.
Obesity is a major contributing risk factor for developing heart disease and ever since we have been cutting fat from our diets, waistlines have grown, not shrunk. Fat reduction also means taste reduction so in order to sell low fat or non-fat foods, the fat was replaced with, you guessed it...more sugar! What a perfect way to not only deflect blame but also to use more sugar in the production of processed foods. It was a win-win for the sugar industry!
Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at NYU was quoted as saying, "Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor? Yes it is, and the practice continues. In 2015, the New York Times obtained emails revealing Coca-Cola's cozy relationships with sponsored researchers who were conducting studies aimed at minimizing the effects of sugary drinks on obesity. Even more recently, the Associated Press obtained emails showing how a candy trade association funded and influenced studies to show that children who eat sweets have healthier body weights than those who do not. Seriously??? Kids who eat candy are at a healthier weight than kids who snack on things like fruits and vegetables? I don't think so.
More studies have to be conducted by impartial researchers to see how significant the link is between sugar consumption and cardiac disease but the link is there. The results of the studies done in the 60s are flawed and should be heavily discounted if not ignored. Our misguided belief that fat is the enemy has been a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic we now face in modern society. We need to rethink the dietary guidance we have been given for the past fifty plus years.
You can read the whole article here.
This has made a huge difference in my ability to lose weight and generally maintain the loss. While I am working my way back down the scale now, this is not my first time on the weight loss merry-go-round. This is the first time, however, that I did not regain all the weight I lost and I won't. I attribute that success to the fact that I include plenty of healthy fats in my diet, that helps me to be satisfied and limit my consumption of foods that don't serve me.
In case you missed my post on June 30th, I am using this 31 day challenge to hold myself accountable for walking my talk. Several years ago, I was able to take off 135 pounds and essentially save my own life. I have regained much of that weight so I am working my way back down.
If you choose to join me on this journey, I hope I am able to impart some nutritional and lifestyle wisdom. Even though I may have gone off the rails temporarily I can still share some of my first hand experience as well as my acquired knowledge and training to help you make the right changes for your best life.
As a health coach, I work with women who are facing serious health challenges like heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes or who have been diagnosed as having a precursor to a serious health issue such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar. I help them make food and lifestyle changes so they can get healthy, live longer and enjoy a fuller, happier, more energetic life. If you would like to have a free consultation about the health challenges you have and the improvements you would like to see in your health, click here to schedule a no strings attached call.