Dietary fats can be tricky business, as they're not all the same. While some are necessary for optimal health, others need to be balanced and some need to be avoided altogether, and understanding which is which is quite crucial, considering how important fats are for optimal health. Unfortunately, many health authorities have insisted omega-6-rich vegetable oils are healthier than saturated animal fats such as butter and lard, and this myth has been a tough one to dismantle, despite the evidence against it. Here, I will review some of the basics, including the importance of balancing your omega-3 and omega-6 intake, and why replacing saturated animal fats with omega-6-rich vegetable oils is such a bad idea.
War on Saturated Fats Has Harmed People in Poor Countries Who Shunned Traditional Fats Like Coconut Oil
One of the most pervasive dangerous food myths has been the lipid hypothesis or theory of heart disease. It proclaims that eating foods containing saturated fats are the root cause of obesity and heart disease. It has prevailed for over a half-century and is only now beginning to deteriorate. The most obvious harm done by the false propaganda against saturated fats in traditional foods are with regions that relied heavily on saturated fats for centuries, especially edible tropical oils such as coconut oil prior to the lipid hypothesis or theory's dogma that permeated and replaced their traditional diets. A recent paper, “Coconut oil and palm oil's role in nutrition, health and national development: A review,” was published in the September 2016 Ghana Medical Journal (GMJ).
A new analysis by Environmental Working Group has found that harmful artificial trans fatty acids lurk in more than 27 percent of more than 84,000 processed foods common in American supermarkets. Another 10 percent contain ingredients likely to contain trans fat. In most cases, the products’ trans fat content on the nutrition label doesn't add up. The reason: an obscure loophole in federal food labeling regulations that allows food processors to round off less than half a gram of trans fat per serving to zero. “Most people wouldn’t know they were consuming these unhealthy trans fat because when they see zero or ‘trans fat free’ on a label, they assume it means what it says,” Dawn Undurraga, EWG nutritionist, said. “With this important analysis, we hope to lift the veil on one of the food industry’s dirty little secrets and help shoppers reduce trans fat in their diet.”
Over the past 60 years, research has repeatedly demonstrated that there’s NO correlation between high cholesterol and plaque formation that leads to heart disease. Despite that, the saturated fat/cholesterol myth has persisted. Dr. Fred Kummerow, who is nearly 100 years old, was the first scientist to document the toxicity of trans fats. Over the past 60 years, his research has repeatedly demonstrated that there’s NO correlation between high cholesterol and plaque formation that leads to heart disease. Dr. Kummerow’s work shows that it’s not cholesterol that causes heart disease; rather it’s the trans fats and oxidized cholesterol that are to blame.
The recent "ban" on trans fats may actually be a way to promote a Monsanto GMO product. It’s important to note that since this is a proposed rule, and not a final one, there’s still a chance it could be changed or dropped. In the rule, the FDA mentions that the agency is open to alternate approaches to addressing partially hydrogenated oils in food, such as the setting of acceptable trans fat threshold levels. The timing and intent of the FDA’s rule is suspect for two reasons. First, it was announced only after most companies had already eliminated trans fat—it’s currently only in a handful of foods. Second, the ban will promote market demand for two new GMO soybeans by Monsanto and DuPont, which are engineered for trans fat free oils.
For over 60 years, saturated fats have been wrongfully accused of causing heart disease, despite mounting evidence showing that saturated fat is actually critical for optimal health while trans fat is the dietary fat causing heart disease. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced it is now considering removing partially hydrogenated oils—the primary source of trans fats—from the list of "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) ingredients. Making trans fat non-GRAS is the first step toward getting trans fats out of the American diet altogether. The FDA’s decision comes right on the heels of a lawsuit filed against the agency by a heart disease researcher. FDA is still holding fast to its ignorant view on saturated fats, urging you to “choose products that have the lowest combined amount of saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat.” This advice causes far more harm than good. Saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a number of important health benefits, and your body requires them for the proper function. Science has firmly debunked the myth that saturated fat promotes heart disease.
by Dan Charles
Our friends over at Planet Money produced a delightful podcast last Friday called “Who Killed Lard?” They finger a corporate perp: Proctor and Gamble’s brilliant marketing campaign for the original Crisco, an alternative to lard that went on sale in 1911. “It’s all vegetable! It’s […]