It wasn’t too long ago that we wrote in this newsletter about the big news in fatty food guidelines: that some saturated fats are not only ok to eat but even healthy for the heart.
Headlines in the media touted the newfound benefits of butter and bacon fat.
At the expense of oversimplifying, after over 50 years of federal and medical organizations’ (such as the American Heart Association) recommendations to avoid fats for healthier hearts, a 2014 meta-analysis determined that obesity and heart disease ramped up as a result of fat avoidance in favor of carbs.
But this study failed to consider all the evidence and misstated the evidence that was there, according to a review in the Cooper Institute’s (Dallas, TX) January 2016 online newsletter.
There are 4 basic types of fat: poly- and mono-unsaturated (good ones), saturated (okay ones) and transfats (bad ones.) When someone determined that saturated fats were associated with heart disease back in the 1950s, a movement pushed for replacing them with hydrogenated, man-made, transfats. Hence, margarine was born.
As the 1970s rolled in, with distance running (the aerobics movement started by Ken Cooper) grabbing attention, the high-carb fad hit; runners needed carbs for fuel so dieters thought they needed them to look like lean runners. As heart disease rates escalated, fats got even more demonized.
Current thinking based on years of analysis of data has pointed the finger at carbs, especially the simple ones that were substituted into processed foods to make them more palatable. The 2014 study moved the needle back toward more fats with recommendations to consume more poly- and mono-unsaturated and to not fret about saturated.
Yet the data show the fallacy of that last point: a 27+ yr study of over 127,000 people found “that replacing 5% of total energy intake from saturated fats with an equivalent number of calories from polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, or whole grains was associated with a significant decrease in risk of CHD” (coronary heart disease).