Why Fat is Good for you
After being told for almost half a century that fat is bad for us, a number of health experts are doing an abrupt about-face. Surprisingly, the consumption of healthy fats can actually help to lower the risk of heart disease, along with boosting the immune system, regulating weight, and decreasing the chance of diabetes. However, it is important to note that not all fats are created equal and that like always, moderation is the key to good health.
According to British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, eating fat can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. “From the analysis of the independent evidence that I have done, saturated fat from non-processed food is not harmful and probably beneficial. Butter, cheese, yoghurt and eggs are generally healthy and not detrimental." said Malhotra in a statement to The Independent. While the highest cholesterol levels can be linked to the highest risk of heart attack, 75 percent of acute heart attack patients have normal cholesterol concentrations.
Not only is fat good for us after all, according to Malhotra, but our obsession with low-fat eating has actually increased our risk of heart disease. In what he calls "the greatest medical error of our time", Malhotra says "The food industry has profited from the low-fat mantra for decades because foods that are marketed as low-fat are often loaded with sugar. We are now learning that added sugar in food is driving the obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
Along with sugar and related carbohydrate products such as bread and pasta, the other real villain helping to cause cardiovascular problems and obesity is trans fats. The trans fats found in margarine and vegetable oil products are often marketed as a healthier alternative to saturated fats, in another example where the proposed solution is probably doing more damage than the original problem ever could.
Malhotra is far from alone in this view, with more and more experts adding their voices to what are increasingly uncontroversial claims. A Journal of the American Medical Association study recently compared a low carbohydrate diet with a low-fat diet, with the later much more likely to lead to increased insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Professor David Haslam, chair of the UK National Obesity Forum, has also come out against low-fat diets: “The assumption has been made that increased fat in the bloodstream is caused by increased saturated fat in the diet, whereas modern evidence is proving that refined carbohydrates and sugar in particular are actually the culprits.”
Along with more experts recommending the consumption of non-processed saturated fats, there is also a growing tide of regular people who are questioning low fat dogma and returning to the kind of diet enjoyed by their grandparents. With obesity a growing epidemic in the western world and more low-fat products on the shelves than ever before, perhaps it's time to realise we might have got this one wrong.