How did fats get on the naughty list to begin with? Post-World War II, research began emerging that seemed to link foods with saturated fats, like eggs and red meat, to coronary heart disease. By the 1960s, the American Heart Association had recommended that people reduce their fat intake, and in 1976, the U.S. Senate held a series of committee meetings, “Diet Related to Killer Diseases,” on the topic. Subsequent food guidelines advocated for eating less saturated fat and more carbohydrates. The war on fat had begun.
While the guidelines advocated for more carbs in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, what the average American understood was that carbs — any kind of carbs — were good (even refined carbohydrates!) while fat was bad. The food industry pounced: High-carb, low-fat foods became the norm. Grocery store shelves and refrigerators were soon lined with low- and no-fat items that were packed with sugar — because without any natural fat, a lot of favorite foods just didn’t taste good anymore. Not coincidentally, both a sugar addiction as well as an obesity epidemic in America began soon after low-fat diets became the standard recommendation.
The problem? None of the studies actually linked high-fat diets to heart disease. The science just wasn’t there. In fact, numerous studies have since debunked the myth. It’s been proved there is no evidence that dietary saturated fat increases a person’s risk for coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, a seven-year study of more than 48,000 women showed that low-fat diets don’t lead to more weight loss or less disease. And yet another study found that, when subjects ate either a Mediterranean diet, low-fat diet or low-carb diet, those following a high-fat, low-carb meal plan not only lost the most weight, but also drastically reduced their bad cholesterol levels.
It turns out our ancestors were right all along: Healthy fats can be good!