Fat; what sort of chance does it have when it’s both the name of a macronutrient and a term to describe the nation’s ever increasing waistlines.Ever since we’ve been old enough to understand, we’ve been told by nutritional ‘experts’ and dietitians to decrease our fat intake (especially the dreaded saturated fat) and replace these fats with ‘heart healthy’ wholegrains, because, well, fat makes us fat.
I think we all know about the food pyramid whereby fats are located right at the top (you can only have a tiny bit) and the feared saturated fat was at the tip of the iceberg, meaning it should be limited entirely. Not to mention that fat consumption (particularly animal fat) increases cholesterol which blocks our arteries and causes heart attacks! Well, I’m going to tell you to forget everything you’ve ever known about fats, because contrary to conventional wisdom, fat in fact, does not make us fat and is the most important nutrient in fat loss. Hold on to your seats because this is going to be a loooong ride!
Where it all started…
The whole fat and cholesterol debacle began back in the 1950s when a scientist by the name of Ancel Keys decided he wanted to explore the relationship between dietary fat consumption and the number of deaths caused by heart attacks. He carried out an investigation of 22 countries to identify whether an increased consumption of dietary fats did lead to more deaths via heart attacks. Keys had predicted that increased dietary fat consumption would lead to more heart attack deaths, so you can imagine his delight when his results showed a direct linear correlation between fats and heart attack deaths. However, this linear correlation only existed in 7 of the 22 countries; the other countries actually showed the complete opposite, increased dietary fat consumption resulted in a decreased number of deaths from heart attacks. Yet this didn’t stop Keys! He only published the results of the 7 countries that supported his hypothesis; and from here on in, the anti-saturated fat baby was born.
From Lard to Margarine
Following Keys’ disturbingly untrue revelation about fat, he decided the only humane thing to do would be to get the US government on board; after all, he couldn’t let Americans continue eating the toxic butter and lard filled with all those nasty saturated fats. So, long story short, Keys got into bed with the US government and soon after, the food pyramid was born.
At the same time, another scientist, John Yudkin, was also investigating heart attack risks, the difference being he was anaylsing the role sugar played in heart attacks. Yudkin found that sugar was actually to blame for America’s increased prevelance of heart attacks, not to mention their growing waistlines. Of course, Keys didn’t want a bar of this and launched a plan to make Yudkin’s life a living hell. Keys’ ties with the US government meant that he was able to cut Yudkin’s research funding, un-invite him to conferences and in fact, spit on him (yep literally spit on him) when they were walking down the street. Yudkin was unable to continue his research, and therefore his research on sugar was never made public (He did write a book called ‘Pure white and deadly’ which has recently been published).
In addition to their relationship with Keys, the US government was also subsidizing the corn farmers’ of America. In a nutshell, the US had a crap load of corn on their hands, and needed a way to off-load some of this corn. So what better way to do this than to pump high-fructose corn syrup and ‘vegetable oil’ into every food product under the sun! Not only was this a cheap alternative, but the vegetable oil would replace the ‘unhealthy’ saturated fats in the American diet and the high-fructose corn syrup would get some flavor into all of the ‘low fat’ products which had taken off as a result of Keys’ campaign; a win-win if you ask me (cue the sarcasm)! So basically, Americans went from lard to margarine, eggs to cereal, juicy steak to skinless, tasteless chicken breast.