Because no single way of eating works for everybody.
What’s really going on about saturated, animal-based fat, from a nutritional point of view?
You may be wondering why I’m even bothering to ask such a silly question. After all, we’ve been told for years that the best option for heart health is to stay away from saturated fat, such as you find in butter, cheese, cream, and meats.
And yet, look at what I’ve come across: this analysis from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – surely a respected and authoritative source. It’s a summary of “the evidence related to the association of dietary saturated fat with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD; CHD inclusive of stroke) in prospective epidemiologic studies.”
In other words, the purpose of the analysis was to discover whether eating fewer saturated fats really makes you less likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.
The document shows the results of 5 to 23 years of followups for 347,747 people. The analysis takes into account the differences in age and sex of the subjects, and the differences in the qualities of the studies being summarized.
“A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD [coronary heart disease] or CVD [cardiovascular disease].”
This study was accepted in 2009, and copyrighted 2010. It’s now 2013. Had you heard about it? Well, I hadn’t. It’s news to me.
I don’t know for sure, but my cynical nature suspects that since the medical and nutritional establishments seem committed to a particular line of thought – ie. animal fats are bad, vegetable fats are good – this study hasn’t received a huge amount of press. But it appears that whatever your opinions about processed vegetable and seed oils, the above analysis indicates that eating animal-sourced fats isn’t going to make your risk for heart problems any higher.
And no, I am not suggesting that we can all go out and gorge ourselves on a steady diet of deep-fried butter; that wouldn’t be sensible. I’m saying that eating fats that come from animals, in reasonable quantities as one would eat any fat, is apparently not the risk we’ve been told it is.
And that sometimes science has to scream its head off in order to be heard. And that we all really should think, and read, before we start cooking.