A low-fat diet, without animal and saturated fats, is what has been recommended to us for over 60+ years. But how has this benefited the American public? Heart disease is still a leading cause of death in our country, cancer and disease riddle our society, and obesity is at an all time high. It’s progressively gotten worse as we are pushed in the direction of replacing saturated fats with vegetable oils, or adding carbohydrates to our diets as alternatives.
We need to better understand fats, and while there have been studies on the impact of animal fats relating to heart disease and higher cholesterol, they’re widely misunderstood and lacking important evidence. So why the push?
In the 1950’s – scientists began exploring different diets around the world, and needed a reason to link heart disease, heart attacks, and obesity to lifestyle eating habits. Much of this research was ego based, and very biased. We needed a reason to link this heart disease – the new epidemic of America that struck down men in their prime and the leading new cause of death – to dietary fats. Ancel Keys – a nutritional scientist was the leading driver of this hunt for a cure, and the American health associates backed him wholeheartedly. His studies not only had major gaps and flaws, but much of the data the public needed to see was unpublished. We are just now going back and reevaluating these studies to see that we have been misguided and mislead. Saturated fats have been linked to raising your “bad” cholesterol levels – which immediately became the blame for heart disease. Higher cholesterol levels must mean that your risk for heart attack was greater, therefore the “low-fat” diet was invented. Vegetable shortenings and oils hit the grocery stores and replaced lard and tallow in our everyday favorite recipes – tossing aside flavor and tradition for a better waistline.
What’s important to understand is overall cholesterol levels. There is HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), and the balance of those two in our bodies is what we need to watch. Saturated fats do increase your overall LDL levels due to their polyunsaturated fat makeup, but there is no actual link to increased risk of heart disease just due to raised LDL alone. Lard also has a very high composition of monounsaturated fats which are linked to raising your good HDL levels. In fact, many of the studies, particularly done by George V. Mann, even showed that early civilizations that only had access to meat, animal fats, heavy creams, and animal milks, and bone marrow – lived incredibly healthy and long life spans for their time. They had very little health issues and almost no heart disease or cancers. So how was this not made known?
Many researches like Mann had a hard time combating views against Ancel Keys, because of his support from the American Heart Association. Many others tried to publish opposing data and were shut down immediately by larger egos and overzealous researchers. We believed what we were told, and 60+ years later we have not seen documented evidence that this low-fat diet has helped our health issues relating to coronary artery and heart diseases.
We’re drowning ourselves in highly processed vegetable and seed oils in the hopes that we will live longer and healthier lives, but the evidence proves otherwise.
The processing of vegetables oils also raises a lot of health questions. Even though vegetables are healthy, the process to convert their seeds or palm to oil is not. Grinding, pressing, heating, refining… all require toxic solvents and chemicals in multiple stages of manufacturing. Effects of this process range from developmental and reproductive toxicity and diseases in humans, to the creation of dangerous carcinogenic esters. Compared to the natural process of animal fats using filtration, steam, and agitation – vegetable oil processing introduces many unnecessary health risks.
A well balanced diet is always recommended when it comes to fat, but using animal fats as substitutes is not risky to your health with proper dieting and regular exercise. Do we recommend you eat tallow deep fried chicken every day for every meal (albeit completely delicious)? No, we don’t feel that is realistic – but once in a while it’s completely OK. If you’re going to have anything deep fried, you may as well do it right! It’s also not realistic to remove fat from diet all together. Your body needs this fuel and the energy that comes from daily fat intake, as well as the benefits it provides to cell protection and growth.
For further reading, please check out the following article: Pork Fat Is Officially One of the World’s Most Nutritious Foods by Jean Jacobs @ elitereaders.com.