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Is Saturated Fat Bad?
Here's some help figuring out the facts about fat.
Many Americans struggle with weight issues and spend excessive amounts of time trying to figure out what contributes to our extra pounds. As long as 60 years ago, scientists thought that all saturated fat was bad for us and directly contributed to heart disease. Sadly, individuals in those generations continued to believe this myth and faced some negative consequences as a result. We now know that there is not just a simple answer for the question, "is fat bad for you?".
The misconception about saturated fat began in the 1950's when a scientist named Ancel Keys did research and decided that cholesterol levels were increased by the consumption of saturated fat. Elevated cholesterol raises the risk of various cardiovascular diseases. When this information was released, people began to steer clear of saturated fat foods such as eggs, red meat and even butter.
The obsession grew in the 70's when the Senate debated the effects of diet versus disease, thus providing a set of dietary guidelines that individuals should follow. They believed these guidelines would ensure optimal overall health. All of these early studies pointed to saturated fat as the culprit for raising LDL cholesterol. However, at that time the studies were not very in depth and there was not a substantial amount of data to use. Never the less, the majority of people quickly decided that fat was a bad thing and that replacing it with carbohydrates was a healthier option.
Food companies quickly saw this new craze as an opportunity and started sticking low fat labels on their products. Sales soared and by the 1990's, grocery stores were inundated with "fat free" items. The problem was that when fat was eliminated, so were flavors and textures. Manufacturers began adding large amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates to accommodate. The detrimental result was that diabetes and obesity rates skyrocketed.
Now, years later, we can more adequately answer the question, "is saturated fat bad?". It has been proven that this type of fat does not increase heart disease. In fact, it is actually trans fat that causes these serious problems. However, it is important to keep in mind that we can not use the blanket statement that all saturated fat is healthy. More research is always needed and the complexity of each food makes it complicated to make a general recommendation.
Overall, nutritionists and other medical professionals recommend a well balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, minimally processed grains and good proteins. Free-Range Chicken and Pasture-raised meat such as beef, pork and lamb offers a much healthier option to the meats in the grocery store. For a low fat option, try some delicious Buffalo (bison) meat, elk or venison.
As a whole, we should focus more on the quality and moderation of our foods as opposed to the percentages or fat grams. So does fat make you fat? Many factors contribute to weight issues such as hormones, genes, high calorie intake, poor eating habits, sedimentary lifestyles and even lack of sleep. As science advances, so does our understanding of the proper way to eat and nourish our bodies.