Baby Boomers have seen a lot of changes in their lives. Digital photography… cell phones… heart transplants. None of these existed when Boomers were born.
Our diets have changed, too. TV dinners were popular when most Boomers were young. Instant everything came in a box. And slabs of fatty meat were the centerpiece of almost every meal.
Then we got the bad news: All those fat-laden foods we loved were killing us. Almost overnight, fat became the villain of the dinner table. Eating fat makes you fat. Fat causes heart disease. The foods we loved most turned out to be our worst enemies.
Thus began decades of fear of fat. Chances are your doctor is still telling you to avoid fats. Most do. Uncle Sam still does. Even though, we’ve seen them get the fat story wrong time and again.
Here are just two reasons you shouldn’t fear fat any more…
The “Experts” Sent Us From the Frying Pan Into the Fire
Mainstream medicine told us there were good fats and bad fats.
Saturated fats – like those found in animal products and tropical oils – were especially unhealthy. Polyunsaturated fats – like those found in many vegetable oils – were good.
So the food industry pulled most of the “unhealthy” saturated fats out of their products and replaced them with a healthier alternative: partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVOs).
PHVOs replaced the saturated palm and coconut oil we used on movie theater popcorn. Margarine – the wartime substitute for butter – was in vogue. Most packaged foods changed over, too.
Before long, PHVOs were everywhere. Best of all, they were more than just good for us. They were cheap and kept longer than saturated fats.
Except the experts got it all wrong.
PHVOs are loaded with trans fats. Trans fats are far worse for you than saturated fats. And – unlike the saturated fat scare of the 1950s – there’s actual scientific evidence to back that claim up.
But here’s where it gets weird. Because – in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary – the mainstream continues to push thoroughly debunked advice on fats.
Yes, the mainstream tells you to avoid trans fats. But they’ve never gotten around to admitting they were wrong about saturated fats. For example, a major review of studies revealed this spring that saturated fats don’t raise your risk of heart disease or stroke.
Now we’re finding even more common wisdom about fats is wrong.
Omega-3 vs. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Everybody knows Omega-3 fatty acids are good for you. Especially EPA and DHA – the two “marine” Omega-3s. The especially health-conscious among us also “know” that Omega-6 fatty acids are a problem.
Both Omega-3s and Omega-6s are essential fatty acids. They’re called essential, because your body can’t make them. But you need them to survive. So you have to get them from your diet.
The argument is that Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, while Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory. And we’re getting far more Omega-6s than our ancestors did. At the same time, we’re eating far fewer Omega-3s.
So, the logic goes, most of us have a pro-inflammatory diet… which encourages arthritis, heart disease, and other diseases linked to systemic inflammation.
Today’s “progressive” mainstreamers have jumped on this bandwagon – just as they did the anti-fat bandwagon of 70 years ago. There’s just one problem with their logic.
Studies show the link between Omega-6 fatty acids and inflammation is pretty weak. In fact, it doesn’t exist at all for the most common Omega-6 in our diets.
The Truth Keeps Ruining All Our Good Theories
First, we do get more Omega-6s – and less Omega-3s – than our ancestors probably did. And, yes, most of us don’t get enough Omega-3s. But Omega-6 fatty acids are getting a bum rap.
In fact, some of the healthiest foods are also high in Omega-6s. Such as nuts (including peanuts), flax, and spices like cayenne and red pepper.
But do Omega-6 fatty acids boost systemic inflammation? A review of 76 studies says, “No!”
The review found people eating a diet high in Omega-6 fats had a lower risk of heart trouble than people eating a diet high in healthy fats like olive oil.
In this study, diets high in trans fats actually had the closest link to heart disease.
The worst fats turned out to be those the mainstream pushed on us decades ago. Meanwhile, saturated fats hardly moved the marker.
And a high intake of Omega-6s cut heart risk significantly.
Here’s some of the truth on fats you may never hear from a doctor…
- April 2017 – Saturated fat intake isn’t linked to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, or death from either. Or to your risk of type II diabetes.
- August 2015 – Omega-6 fatty acid intake is inversely related to a key marker of heart risk.
- January 2016 – Higher Omega-6 levels are linked to lower heart risk.
- November 2017 – Men with higher Omega-6 levels have a lower risk of heart trouble.
So, what’s the bottom line here? Stop fearing fat. Just use your common sense…
Fats Are an Essential Part of Your Diet
I’m not saying you should eat unlimited amounts of saturated fats… or ignore the Omega-3 – Omega-6 imbalance. But fat is essential for your good health.
Naturally occurring fats have a place in your diet. PHVOs – and their associated trans fats – don’t.
Don’t give up walnuts because they’re high in Omega-6s. Just eat them in moderation. Don’t avoid tropical oils. They’re far healthier than PHVOs. And don’t swear off steak if you love it. Trim the fat. Or buy a leaner cut.
Finally, to get more Omega-3s in your diet, select grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and wild-caught fish. A quality fish oil supplement wouldn’t hurt, either.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Malhotra, A., et al, “Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions,” British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2016; dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2016-097285.
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Kubota, Y., et al, “Serum Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Composition and Serum High- Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein Levels in Healthy Japanese Residents: The KOBE Study,” J Nutr Health Aging. Aug 2015; 19(7): 719-728.
El-Saed, A., et al, “The Associations of C-Reactive Protein with Serum Levels of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Trans Fatty Acids Among Middle- Aged Men from Three Populations,” J Nutr Health Aging. Jan 2016; 20(1): 16-21.
Virtanen, J.K., et al, “The associations of serum n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids with serum C-reactive protein in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017; doi:10.1038/s41430-017-0009-6.
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