Does eating fat really make you fat? Is butter bad for you? Store shelves are still loaded with low-fat and-fat free products, so it seems that many people are on board with this notion. But recent evidence is showing that we’ve been told a big fat lie, and that eating fat does not cause weight gain or disease anymore than eating chicken can turn you into a bird.
Dr. Mark Hyman, the physician called in to help President Clinton recover from his bypass surgery, warns that it isn’t the fats, but rather processed carbohydrates that make us fat and sick. He points to a review of data from the British Journal of Medicine that shatters the myth that fat causes obesity and heart disease. Researchers found that while lowering saturated fat in the diet may lower total cholesterol, it’s actually lowering the good kind of LDL cholesterol, and not the bad kind.
The green light on eating fat given by Dr. Hyman even includes saturated fat. Another of the studies he notes refuted the idea that reducing dietary saturated fat improves cardiovascular health. Researchers summarized the evidence related to dietary saturated fat and risk of coronary heart disease, stoke, and cardiovascular disease. They found that there was no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease.
One of the characteristics of dietary fat is its ability to make people feel satiated and complete after eating a normal-sized meal. When there is less fat consumed, the tendency is to try to find the feeling of satiety by eating more starchy and sugary foods. But since these cannot match the feelings produced by fats, the outcome is to eat even more and more starches and sugars, which can lead to tremendous weight gain.
Interestingly, a study from the University of California found that most people who have a heart attack also have normal overall cholesterol levels. But Type 2 diabetes is prevalent in this cohort, probably the result of eating so many processed carbohydrates.