Fat update

It is difficult to wade through all the fad diets that appear on the Internet. Some promise weight-loss, getting rid of belly fat, weight-gain & more. We spend a lot of time worrying about what to eat. We look for “super foods” to add to our diet. We restrict nutrients by eating foods based on what diets celebrities are using at the time. We also believe what the government recommends each year. Just look at the non-fat diet craze of the 1980’s. When will we learn?

We have discussed fat in our diets several times. We learned that the non-fat diet fad did not help obesity or our health. Actually, it caused problems due to fact that our body needs fat to work properly. The Government’s yearly diet guidelines, 2015-2020, includes the following:

A Healthy Eating Pattern Includes: 

  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
  • Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.

Then in 2016 the headlines screamed….”Eat Bacon, Butter & Eggs Every Day” This next article is very interesting. They quote my favorite author.

Whole milk is okay. Butter and eggs too. What’s next — bacon? Good article.We asked him, (Michael Pollen), to elaborate on his famous instruction to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” He writes: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. All you need to know. Yes, we constantly divide the nutritional landscape into good and evil nutrients. There are several problems with this manichaen approach to food, but one is that, as soon as you demonize one nutrient — say, fat — you give a free pass to another, supposedly less-evil nutrient — carbs. What I call the Snackwell’s phenomenon, after that Nabisco line of no-fat junk food in the 1980s. Since these cookies, crackers and chips didn’t contain any of the evil nutrients, people felt they could binge on them. This is story of the low-fat campaign writ small: consumption of fat in absolute terms remained steady while consumption of supposedly innocent carbs skyrocketed. Nutritionism is a great way to sell food, since you can market the absence of evil nutrients or the presence of blessed ones, but its not a good way to eat. Which is why we got fat during the years of the low-fat campaign.” He is so right about labeling ingredients “evil” or “good”. This is exactly what happened to fat. It is also a brilliant way to sell food. Think about how many “super foods” have popped up in the last 5 years. How many did you buy based on the marketing? Acai berries, kale & quinoa are great examples of this.

I believe that the typical American feels that in all things, including medications, if one is good then 10 are better! More is just simply more. So if an “evil” food is bad then the “blessed” foods can be eaten all day! Moderation is the key.

Old ways Mediterranian pyramid

So what is new with fat? Well, a new study has been published in The Lancet, regarding weight-loss & eating fats. The reason I found this fascinating is because the study was done with the Mediterranean diet. You can read the actual study here:  Effect of a high-fat Mediterranean diet on bodyweight and waist circumference: a prespecified secondary outcomes analysis of the PREDIMED randomised controlled trial  The bottom line to this study is called the Interpretation: 

Interpretation: “A long-term intervention with an unrestricted-calorie, high-vegetable-fat Mediterranean diet was associated with decreases in bodyweight and less gain in central adiposity compared with a control diet. These results lend support to advice not restricting intake of healthy fats for bodyweight maintenance.”

What this means to us is that healthy fats like olive oil & nuts will not cause weight gain or “central adiposity” which means weight around the middle or waist. 

From U.S.News Health Care…  Healthy Fats in Mediterranean Diet Won’t Boost Weight …June 7, 2016: “That’s good news for people who’d prefer to try the Mediterranean diet — which includes healthy fats — over a diet that’s low in fat. And the study authors suggest that current health guidelines may be creating an unnecessary fear of these healthful fats.

“More than 40 years of nutritional policy has advocated for a low-fat diet, but we’re seeing little impact on rising levels of obesity,” said study lead author Dr. Ramon Estruch, of the University of Barcelona in Spain.

“Our study shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetable fats such as olive oil and nuts had little effect on body weight or waist circumference compared to people on a low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet has well-known health benefits and includes healthy fats, such as vegetable oils, fish and nuts,” Estruch explained in a journal news release.

However, he also pointed out that not all fats are created equal. “Our findings certainly do not imply that unrestricted diets with high levels of unhealthy fats such as butter, processed meat, sweetened beverages, deserts or fast-foods are beneficial,” Estruch added.” This last paragraph is very important. Read it again 🙂 

From Live science….Eating Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat, Study FindsBy Sara G. Miller, Staff Writer | “It seems logical to think that eating a high-fat diet would tip the scale upward, but a new study suggests that might not be the case. What’s more, eating more of certain types of fats may help move the scale in the other direction.

Men and women in the study who followed a high-fat, Mediterranean diet that was rich in either olive oil or nuts lost more weight and reduced their waist circumference more than the people in the study who were simply instructed to reduce their fat intake, according to the study.

The Mediterranean diet, rich in healthy fats and plant proteins, has been linked in previous studies to a wide range of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes — two conditions that are also linked to obesity.”……….People should focus more on eating healthy foods, rather than worrying about dietary fats, Mozaffarian told Live Science. The new study may in fact have underestimated the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, Mozaffarian added. Because the study took place in Spain, where people already eat a Mediterranean-style diet, there may not have been as big a change in eating patterns as there would have been if people had shifted from an American-style diet, for example, he said.

Even though this post is about fat, it is also about eating a Mediterranean diet which includes exercise, community & meals with others. It is a lifestyle. I can’t stress enough that the closer to this healthy plant based diet & lifestyle that you get, your immune system will thank you.

Let’s end with my favorite Michael Pollen quote: “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Resources: Here are a few links that I thought you would benefit from. I included the coconut pudding because it is delicious!