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Chewing the fat about fat

Recent headlines have announced that “butter is back” and “guidelines to avoid fat should never have been introduced”.

This has revived debates about where dietary fats should sit in the food pyramid and has left many people confused.

The fat debate is one that rears its head repeatedly, with opposing studies all claiming to have the truth about fat.

Recommendations introduced more than 30 years ago, advised people to reduce their fat consumption, specifically saturated fats.

Fat was considered bad and we were urged to banish it from our diets whenever possible.

Decades later, some studies still back this up and now show evidence that the reduction in saturated fats has corresponded with a reduction in blood cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease.

But like all good debates, the opposing argument casts shadows of doubt on these claims.

Extensive new research suggests these guidelines, cautioning of the risks of eating butter, cheese and full-fat milk, are wrong and should never have been introduced.

These studies suggest that reducing our dietary fat consumption didn’t in fact make us healthier because in doing so we cut back on healthy fats as well as harmful ones.

When making a choice about your health, knowing the differences between different types of dietary fats is a great start.

It is generally agreed that good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and bad ones include industrial-made trans fats, while the fate of saturated fats falls somewhere in the middle, depending on which studies you pay attention to.

Confused? You’re not alone. But what is clear is that our bodies need some dietary fat to function.

They are a vital source of energy; they provide us with essential fatty acids and help us to absorb some vitamins and minerals.

Despite the conflicting studies it seems evident that a certain amount of good fat is compatible with good health and, as with most things, too much fat of the bad variety is detrimental.
Chewing the fat about fat