Fat was out of the picture for the better part of the 20th century due to the massive in-field study (Seven Countries Study) conducted by Ancel Keys. He investigated the dietary patterns of different countries, measured their blood pressure, collected blood samples and gathered other significant measurements. Finally. Ancel Keys concluded that dietary saturated fat is directly linked to the heart disease and should be avoided. Not long after, the American Heart Association implemented the recommendations to limit the saturated fat intake due to overwhelming proof of this all-encompassing study. However, the society, instead of consuming more fruits and vegetables, started eating more processed foods that started to get widely available due to the food industry jumping in and embracing the “low fat” craze. Recently, a meta-analysis (the study of studies) has been conducted and it concluded that the link of saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease is inconsistent. INCONSISTENT. Despite the flawed study that has been absolutely invalidated since and had no significant conclusions, the damage was done and difficult to reverse! The mainstream media took this up as a green light for saturated fat. “Eat Butter” – the cover of the Time magazine proclaimed.
Well, so should you start eating extra butter? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The study of the studies that was inconclusive cannot reverse the profound scientific research that has been conducted for the past century. Let’s talk fat! The fats in the typical Western diet are significantly abused. In our predecessors the Omega 6 (pro-inflammatory) to Omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) ratio was close to 1:1. The current average of this ratio is ~15:1 (!). We can clearly see that our dietary changes are not leading our society to a healthier lifestyle, since the rates of obesity are only skyrocketing in the past decade. Overconsumption of Omega 6 fats is making us more inflamed and promotes cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.
Not all fat is bad, right? Correct! However, there is one fat that we should steer absolutely clear of – trans fats. It raises our bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowers our good (HDL) cholesterol levels and is barely found in natural foods. The current recommendation from the American Heart Association is under 7% of your daily caloric intake should come from saturated fats. So what fats should you eat? Go for naturally occurring fats that are found in nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia), avocados. If you are looking for a reliable oil to cook with, go for high quality, extra virgin olive oil. You can also include a moderate amount of coconut oil for baking. Other oils are highly refined and very unstable, causing inflammation and do not promote a healthy lifestyle.
Written by LAB Coach Aurimas Juodka (AJ)