Is saturated fat a sinner – or a saint – when it comes to healthy diets? Neither, says renowned Yale physician Dr. David Katz in an October 27 commentary.
A recognized expert in weight management and author of “The Way to Eat: A Six-Step Path to Lifelong Weight Control,” Dr. Katz expresses concern over consumers’ confusion as to what constitutes a healthy amount of fat in their diets, as well as the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats. Moreover, he points out that many fat-free foods are worse for their health than the real food.
“Those who first advised limiting saturated fat intake had not yet imagined Snackwell cookies!” declares Dr. Katz. “The initial research was comparing the health of people eating meat and cheese and ice cream, to the health of people eating mostly plants, and to other people eating lots of plants along with nuts, and seeds and fish. Nobody was eating low-fat junk food, because it hadn’t been invented yet.”
Dr. Katz also has authored a book examining what truly works in terms of lifestyle and diet to prevent disease: “Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well” (click for details). He joins “Wheat Belly” author Dr. William Davis in blaming much of the nation’s diet dilemma on the growth in supposedly healthy fat-free junk food: Learn more by clicking here.
Now that the food industry has provided us with an influx of unhealthy, addictive products, however, Dr. Katz believes that “we are ill-served to think of saturated fat as either scapegoat, or martyred saint.”
Instead, Dr. Katz provides these guidelines:
- “Saturated fat is not one food component; it’s a category.”
- Some types of saturated fat, such as stearic acid, found in dark chocolate, are not harmful.
- For some types of saturated fat, such as lauric acid, predominant in coconut oil, the jury is still out.
- But certain types of saturated fat, such as palmitic acid and myristic acid, “appear to be substantially guilty as charged, contributing to inflammation and atherosclerosis. The body of relevant evidence is expansive.”
Dr. Katz also contends that the typical American’s diet never actually cut fat, despite statistics indicating that the amount of fat eaten has dropped. Instead, “total calorie intake went up, diluting down the percent of calories coming from fat.”
Moreover, consumers are gobbling up more unhealthy carbohydrates, says Dr. Katz.
Our nation is “eating more sugar and starch. We kept the saturated fat, replaced some of it in time with trans fat, and applied a generous icing of starch and high-fructose corn syrup. And yet, amazingly, we didn’t wind up healthier. Well then, yes, clearly saturated fat must be good for us!” he adds sardonically.
Bottom line: “Demonizing saturated fat never helped us much. Canonizing it now won’t help us any either. All who share a concern for eating well and the health advances that can come from it must band together to renounce the perennial branding of this, that, or the other food component as scapegoat, or saint,” concludes the noted physician.