If you’re one of millions of health-conscious people who have eliminated fatty foods from your diet in the hopes that it will keep you healthy, you may want to pour yourself a glass of whole milk and sit down for this one: A new study found depriving yourself isn’t helping you defeat disease.
The British Medical Journal recently published new findings that show our negative attitudes about full-fat dairy and meats may be misguided. Thanks to guidelines published in 1983 that urged people to cut back on saturated fats so that they account for no more than 30 percent of our daily diet, many people have done a 180 and will only purchase and consume low-fat and no-fat foods, many of which contain bad-for-you additives and artificial sweeteners.
But Canadian researchers gathered information from 12 studies involving between 90,000 and 340,000 patients in each study and found that, overall, there is no link between a high-fat diet and coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes or ischemic stroke.
They also suggest there is no link between a high-fat diet and early death — though they aren’t ruling out an increased risk of death from coronary heart disease.
While some researchers are now calling for the 1983 guidelines to be revised or discarded, others are cautioning folks not to suddenly assume it’s OK to serve steak and cheese at every meal.
It feels like each month we read reports that conflict with our previous beliefs about diet and health. But, no matter how many times we hear that coffee (for example) is OK, reports about coffee’s benefits still don’t give us the green light to visit Starbucks 10 times a day.
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The key is, and has always been, (almost) everything in moderation. Some drinks and foods — anything that contains aspartame or saccharin — have zero health benefits and, in my humble opinion, shouldn’t be allowed to exist. But I don’t fault anyone for choosing low-calorie and low-fat foods as an alternative because we have, for decades, been made to feel like gluttonous villains if we order the cheese platter at dinner. So many of us assume we’re doing the right thing for our health when we cut out fats completely from our diet — and with so much emphasis on diet and what we need to eliminate instead of which foods we should be adding to ensure we are as healthy as possible, it’s easy to see why this keeps happening.
Let’s hope this new study also comes with better guidelines about how much saturated fat we should add to our diets — it’s time to stop seeing fat as the enemy and start viewing it for what it is: a vital source of fuel and energy.