Many have been led to believe that a low-fat diet will cause weight loss and raise their cholesterol. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. Most people are still afraid of eating fat — any fat. They think a low-fat diet will help them lose weight and help prevent heart disease. In fact, the opposite may be true. Low-fat diets recommended by most nutritionists and dietitians are not only totally useless, they are also dangerous.
The New York Times has published a great article about the low fat obsession in America, “In 1988, the surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, proclaimed ice cream to a be public-health menace right up there with cigarettes. Alluding to his office’s famous 1964 report on the perils of smoking, Dr. Koop announced that the American diet was a problem of “comparable” magnitude, chiefly because of the high-fat foods that were causing coronary heart disease and other deadly ailments. He introduced his report with these words: “The depth of the science base underlying its findings is even more impressive than that for tobacco and health in 1964.”
In the case of fatty foods, that confident voice belonged to Ancel Keys, a prominent diet researcher a half-century ago (the K-rations in World War II were said to be named after him). He became convinced in the 1950s that Americans were suffering from a new epidemic of heart disease because they were eating more fat than their ancestors.
There were two glaring problems with this theory, as Mr. Taubes, a correspondent for Science magazine, explains in his book. First, it wasn’t clear that traditional diets were especially lean. Nineteenth-century Americans consumed huge amounts of meat. The percentage of fat in the diet of ancient hunter-gatherers, according to the best estimate today, was as high or higher than the ratio in the modern Western diet.Second, there wasn’t really a new epidemic of heart disease. Yes, more cases were being reported, but not because people were in worse health. It was mainly because they were living longer and were more likely to see a doctor who diagnosed the symptoms.
To bolster his theory, Dr. Keys in 1953 compared diets and heart disease rates in the United States, Japan and four other countries. Sure enough, more fat correlated with more disease (America topped the list). But critics at the time noted that if Dr. Keys had analyzed all 22 countries for which data were available, he would not have found a correlation. (And, as Mr. Taubes notes, no one would have puzzled over the so-called French Paradox of foie-gras connoisseurs with healthy hearts.)
The evidence that dietary fat correlates with heart disease ‘does not stand up to critical examination,’ the American Heart Association concluded in 1957. But three years later the association changed position — not because of new data, Mr. Taubes writes, but because Dr. Keys and an ally were on the committee issuing the new report. It asserted that ‘the best scientific evidence of the time’ warranted a lower-fat diet for people at high risk of heart disease.”
Why Low Fat is Killing You
1. Low-Fat Often Means High Sugar
To make foods fat-free or low-fat, food companies turn to additional processing, adding chemicals and fat replacers to keep textures and tastes similar to the original product. These additives (gums, inulin, maltodextrin, plydestrose, starch, modified food starch) are carbohydrate-based fat replacers. In many instances, fancy names for sugar.
2. Can Lead to Cardiovascular Problems
Did you know that having high levels of High Density Lipoprotein ( “good” cholesterol) is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease? Whereas, a low-fat diet leads to reductions in HDL, which cany lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
In a 2004 editorial in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, Sylvan Lee Weinberg, former president of the American College of Cardiology and outspoken proponent of the diet-heart hypothesis, said :
The low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet…; may well have played an unintended role in the current epidemics of obesity, lipid abnormalities, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndromes. This diet can no longer be defended by appeal to the authority of prestigious medical organizations.
3. Causes Hormone Imbalances
Did you know that many of the most important hormones are made from cholesterol? Cholesterol is needed for normal cell function and brain function; to strengthen your immune system and build brain and nerve tissue.
4. Causes Weight Gain
The Women’s Health Initiative, the largest clinical trial of diet and body weight, discovered that 50,000 women on low-fat diets had no significant weight loss and no differences between those who followed low-fat, low-carb, and very- low-carb diets. In fact, most low-fat foods such as margarine, skim milk, and other reduced-fat products are loaded with calories, carbs, sugar, and processed flour that lead to weight gain.
5. Can Cause Depression and Anxiety
Most of our cells are made up of cholesterol, and over 60% of the brain is made up of fat. Thus, if you are not eating the right kind of fat, you are damaging your brain. \
Sarah Conklin, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine, Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh presented a study that found low levels of EPA and DHA were related to mood impairment.
We were able to show that individuals who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets had more gray matter volume in areas of the brain important for regulating mood. These results suggest that these specific fats, certainly not fat in general, may confer a protective effect against depression and other mood-related problems.