Monday, June 16, 2014

Fat is Not the Enemy
   by Bob Wells, CES, PES, Pn1

Courtesy Pantry Paratus
For decades, we have had a hate-hate relationship with fat.

Fat has been denigrated for years, and we have been told that the consumption of it will lead to sickness and disease, most notably cardiovascular disease.

One of the earlier researchers--and creator of the military's K ration--Dr. Ancel Keys (1904-2004), led the charge against fat consumption. His Seven Countries Study showed that there was a causal relationship between saturated fat intake and prevalence of cardiovascular disease.

In his research, Keys highlighted the fact the the Western Diet featured meat and dairy. Not surprisingly, this high fat consumption resulted in high rates of heart disease. Keys therefore warned Americans to drastically reduce fat intake in order to avoid heart disease. Based on Keys' research and strong admonitions, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued guidelines to refrain from fat consumption. Later the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined the party, and issued directives to stay away from fat, setting up carbohydrates as the base of their food pyramid.

Courtesy Denise Minger
The food companies, with the blessing of the USDA, obliged, and began offering low-fat and nonfat fare. Fat intake plummeted, and carbohydrate intake began to rise, to the surprise of no one. Four decades into this paradigm shift, we are able to see this strategy for what it is: a complete failure.

Despite our decreased fat intake, Americans are sicker than ever. Bryan Walsh of Time writes, "The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes increased 166% from 1980-2012." Approximately 10% of the population suffers from diabetes, leading to astonishing health care costs. One estimate is that diabetes alone costs nearly $250 billion annually. To top it off, cardiovascular disease still remains the No. 1 killer in the U.S., despite this wide scale reduction of fat consumption.

The dubious connection between fat and heart disease should have been noted long ago. Countries like West Germany and France consumed high fat diets yet had low incidences of heart disease. Why Keys left such crucial data out of his research remains open for debate.

However, their inclusion might have led food companies and consumers alike to look earlier into the importance of a truly balanced diet. Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition shows that macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates) are most effective for health and desirable body compositions when they are consumed in the proper amounts. Read "Sculpting the Perfect Body : One bite at a Time" to get a better picture of what a balanced meal looks like.

As many of us now know, we should "Eat Healthy Fats Daily" to help look and feel our best.

In other words, fat is not the enemy.


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