Rethinking fat. (It’s actually healthy, really!)

Donald-Brun_Beurre There’s been a lot in the news lately about fat, and a lot of it has been contrary to standard beliefs. Our government, organizations such as the American Heart Association, and our medical professionals have drummed into all of our heads that:

  1.  saturated fat should be avoided, and replaced with “heart-healthy” polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and
  2. that cutting dietary fat will keep us from being fat.

The trouble is, these are based on strikingly outdated theories. The problems with our ideas about fat, as well as the fascinating, largely political stories behind their development, have been thoroughly described, for example by journalist Michael Pollan. The good news is, it seems like public opinion is shifting, and these long clung-to ideas may slowly be crumbling.

  • NPR reported on a couple of studies about full-fat dairy in February. They both found that higher dairy fat consumption was associated with a lower risk of becoming obese.
  • In March, a major meta-analysis reviewing dietary fat studies was met with both happiness and head-scratching in the media; the study found that saturated fat is not associated with increased heart disease risk, while polyunsaturated fat is not shown to decrease risk.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported on multiple recent studies about the health benefits of (highly saturated) coconut oil.

So what’s going on? Continue reading