This front cover of Time Magazine is from 1984 hence the start of the biggest observational study in the history of mankind, so if you were born in the 80’s and before, you were a part of it. There was never a scientific fact behind this claim to back it up. As most of us know when you remove the fat from a type of food, yogurt for example, it tastes awful. That is why food developers added sugars and other chemicals to make it taste better.
History of Fat
Yes I know, you didn’t come here for a history lesson but bear with me, this is important I promise (I will also make it as short as possible). High fat consumption is known in many cultures and the most famous is of course the caveman. They lived in a harsh environment where either you are the hunter or the hunted. There was no such thing as picky eater back then, either you eat your meat or you starve. Since there are no documentation regarding the caveman’s eating habits I decided to look at a more recent research on cultures and their diets. There are many out there such as the Masai Mara Tribe and the Plain Indians, but I chose to look at Vilhjálmur Stefánsson study on the Eskimo diet (yes, my choice may have had something to do with his Icelandic origin).
The Eskimo Diet
Vilhjálmur Stefánsson a Canadian anthropologist born to Icelandic parents (go Iceland!) was a Harvard graduate who did extensive research of the Inuit culture. He made many good points in his research but for us looking at dietary history the most interesting thing is, that he showed us that you can thrive on a high fat diet with low to no carbohydrates. He spent a year living with the Inuits in their harsh environment with no access to fruits or vegetables. They ate mostly fish three to four times a day, either raw, frozen, boiled or rotten and sometimes doused in whale fat. Even though not consecutive he lived for years on a very low carb high fat diet through his stay with the Eskimo’s. In the published work from Stefánsson we learned he ate 15% protein, over 80% fat and a few percent as carbohydrate, mostly naturally found in the meat. We can assume that since he ate what he was fed, that is what the Eskimo’s were eating. When he got back he met with a lot of disbelieve of how anyone can thrive on this type of diet and had several physicians offer to give him a thorough physical to show him how unhealthy he was. He did go with a New York doctor who did an extensive physical on Stefánsson condition and found him to be in perfect health. He furthermore took part in a lengthy study along with another colleague where physicians spent a year monitoring them on a strict low carb high fat diet. This was around the time when the vitamin was discovered and scientists claimed we could not live healthy lifes without fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately for the scientists who were itching to prove Stefánsson wrong, he and his colleges came out of this year long study healthier then before.
A Not so Short Overview of our Diet Path Today
Diabetes was rare until the 20th century when our living standards started to improve and reached an epidemic by the end of the century. Before 1980 type II diabetes was known as adult onset diabetes which was changed between 1980 – 1990 due to increased diagnosis of type II diabetes in children. Back in 1910 your chances of developing type II diabetes were 1 in 30, today it is 1 in 3.
1910 real butter was about 18 pounds per capita and lard was the number 1 cooking fat controlling 70% of the market. Lard was the best source of Vitamin D and a good source of palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated anti-microbial fatty acid that kills bacteria and viruses. Today we eat less then 4 lbs of butter per capita and suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
1920 sugar consumption in the US reached 100 pounds per capita
1949 pasteurized milk became mandatory after inexperienced replacement creamery workers produced tainted milk killing a number of people.
1951 Professor Ancel Keys attends a conference in Rome on nutrition and diseases and notices low heart diseases among Mediterranean and Japanese cultures which also consume low fat diet. From that observation he correlated that low fat diet lowers heart disease. He also published a six country analysis on association from dietary fat and mortality from heart disease in 1953. He failed to note that he had data from 20 countries and chose to skip countries such as France with high fat consumption and low heart disease rate.
1976 vegetable fat was 55 pounds pr capita and obesity and diabetes became a public health problem
1976 FDA gives a GRA (generally regarded as safe) status to hydrogenated soybean oil – even though lipid biochemist Mary Enig, PhD, warned the government that – among their many dangers – trans fats interfere with insulin receptors on cell membranes and thereby increase the risk of diabetes.
1976 George McGovern a politician starts to his path to giving the American public a guideline of eating low fat diet and became successful in 1977.
1978 High Fructose Corn syrup enters the market and by 1985 50% of sweeteners consumed by Americans was HFCS.
1980 obesity rate was between 12-14%, it started growing and took off after 1990 it grew to a point that today 49 states have obesity rates over 20%. Colorado is the only state under 20%.
1982 the National Institutes of Health MRFIT failed to prove that low fat diet was safe, showing that low fat diets with high amounts of vegetable fat increased mortality rate.
1984 the NIH sponsored Lipid Research Clinic (LRC) study. But after tweaking the statistics, study director Basil Rifkind declared victory and asserted that now the federal government had definitive proof that lowering cholesterol and fat would reduce the risk of heart disease.
1986 The FDA says there is “no conclusive evidence” that sugar causes chronic disease. Since that time, the government has not funded any studies to test the hypothesis. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, up to 25 percent of our calories can be consumed as sugar.
1988 After 20 years researching carbohydrate metabolism, Gerald Reavan, MD, University of California, announces his discovery of “Syndrome X,” now referred to as Metabolic Syndrome or diabetes-related heart disease. Dr. Reaven said the culprit in heart disease is excess sugar and excess easily-digested carbohydrates – not red meat.
1999 At the 14 year point in the Harvard Nurses Study, 3,000 nurses had developed cancer. According to study leader Walter Willett, the less fat the nurses ate the greater their risk of cancer. Willet said, “Saturated fat seems to be protective…” Even though dietary fat was exonerated, the American Cancer Society continues to blame red meat and fat on cancer – not sugar or excess carbohydrates.
2004 Obesity level in the U.S.: Over 30 percent.
2005 Butter is making a comeback! For the first time since 1957, butter outsells margarine.
2008 Sugar consumption in the US: 150 pounds per capita. The Corn Growers Association is spending $20 to $30 million on an 18 month TV ad campaign “targeting mothers” with the reassuring message that HFCS is perfectly okay for toddlers and children.
2009 In the first six months of the year, the health care industry spent $263 million lobbying to protect their “health care” income.
2013 the American Heart Association is inviting 33,000 cardiac experts – professionals who continue to follow the low fat Gospel according to Keys – to their grand annual conference. The city of Dallas has agreed to build a lavish new 1,100 bed “Four Star” hotel. A rightfully proud Mr. Phillip Jones, president and Ceo of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the event will generate an estimated $86 million for the city of Dallas. No surprise here. The AHA is a fundraising superstar with assets over $1 billion. The CEO earns over $500,000 annually – a tidy sum for the head cop of the low fat Dietary Guidelines.
What a great summary of the history how we went from eating healthy natural fats to vegetable oil and increased sugar consumption. If you click on the link given there is a very detailed history also including profits from various associations all which are supposed to stand guard of our health.
Hopefully now you are starting to open your mind to that there is such a thing as healthy fat and the government might just be telling us to eat low fat, sugary and chemical food to boost their billion dollar industries. After all most of those guidelines were made by politicians regardless of warnings from scientists.
The war on fat has been going on long enough. I know for myself it is time to enjoy some healthy juicy fatty parts of the meat and fish or a good full fat yogurt, butter and cream. Throw out all vegetable oils and low fat products that are loaded with sugar and chemicals.
Saturated fats help raise the good cholesterol which transports cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver where it is either reused or excreted. There higher your HDL count is, the less chance off heart disease.
An extensive study shows that there is no relationship between saturated fats and heart disease.
Food high in saturated fat is very nutritious, a great example is red meat, fatty fish such as salmon, coconut oil, eggs, nuts, avocado, high fat dairy, dark chocolate and lets not forget bacon!
On top of being an excellent source of protein, red meat is high in Vitamin B12, B3 and B6 along with highly bio-available Iron, Selenium and Zinc. If you choose grass fed beef you will add omega 3 and vitamin A and E.
Probably the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids you can get. DHA occurs mostly in fatty fish such as salmon, recent studies indicate that supplements might not be as effective as the real thing (this needs more thorough study). Salmon is also a great source of vitamin B12, 3.5 and 6, folate, vitamin A and D and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. I always choose wild caught fish, if you do choose farmed fish make sure the fish is raised in a sanitary facility.
Coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides which is metabolized differently as it does not require energy for absorption, utilization or storage. It helps you burn fat and fight infections. When I buy my coconut oil I make sure I get organic virgin coconut oil, not refined.
Eggs are not just delicious for breakfast, they are extremely good for you. A great source of protein to keep you satiated longer, omega -3, vitamin B 12, 2 and 6 along with Vitamin A and E. Don’t forget, this is all in the yolk, the protein is in the white. Eggs also contain cholesterol, don’t get scared as just because something contains cholesterol doesn’t mean it is bad for you. Eggs have been known to increase your good cholesterol overall reducing risk of cardiovascular diseases. Eggs have the perfect amino acid profile.
None of the health benefits I listed for each item is a complete list, this is just to give you an idea of how good healthy fats are and to get you away from the low fat propaganda. Go on, put real butter (best from grass fed cows) on top of your steak, enjoy full fat heavy cream in your coffee and bacon for breakfast!