It’s the Food that Matters, Not Its Fat Content
A recent editorial in the influential publication, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), calls upon the federal government to drop restrictions on the amount of total fat in Americans’ diets. At issue is an amended version of dietary guidelines published occasionally by the federal government; the forthcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
For the first time since 1980, a review committee of scientists did not recommend any restrictions on consumption of total fat. The current guidelines, in place for decades now, call for no more than 35% of daily calories from fats in the diet. But research that has accumulated since the dawn of the Reagan era shows there was never any real justification for that limit.
"Placing limits on total fat intake has no basis in science and leads to all sorts of wrong industry and consumer decisions," said Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H. "Modern evidence clearly shows that eating more foods rich in healthful fats like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish have protective effects, particularly for cardiovascular disease. Other fat-rich foods, like whole milk and cheese, appear pretty neutral; while many low-fat foods, like low-fat deli meats, fat-free salad dressing, and baked potato chips, are no better and often even worse than full-fat alternatives. It's the food that matters, not its fat content.”
I think that last sentence says it all: It’s the food that matters, not its fat content. As I’ve been saying for some time now, high-fat foods such as nuts, avocados, and hard cheeses are not only NOT bad for you, but they can actually be good for your health. For example, I reported earlier this year that consuming full-fat dairy may actually result in greater weight loss—and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes— than sticking to skim milk, possibly because the extra fat in whole milk helps regulate one’s appetite. Instead of fearing the fat, say experts, we should be focusing on the real culprits in many Americans’ diets: simple carbohydrates, such as refined grains and added sugars.
"A growing body of research shows that refined carbohydrates increase metabolic dysfunction and obesity. Yet, foods rich in added sugars, starches and refined grains like white bread, white rice, chips, crackers and bakery desserts still account for most of the calories people eat,” said David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., who co-authored the JAMA opinion piece. “Lifting the restriction on total fat would clear the way for restaurants and industry to reformulate products containing more healthful fats and fewer refined grains and added sugars.”
Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH; David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD. The 2015 US Dietary Guidelines-Lifting the Ban on Total Dietary Fat. JAMA, June 2015 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.5941
Ulrika Ericson, Sophie Hellstrand, Louise Brunkwall, Christina-Alexandra Schulz, Emily Sonestedt, Peter Wallstrom, Bo Gullberg, Elisabet Wirfalt, and Marju Orho-Melander. Food sources of fat may clarify the inconsistent role of dietary fat intake for incidence of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr, April 2015 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.114.103010