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5 Reasons People Are Foolishly Fearing Dietary Fat

Will the FDA change the 2015 dietary guidelines to help fat shed its bad rap?
5 Reasons People Are Foolishly Fearing Dietary Fat

Fats posses the label of villain. Over the past three decades, fats were cast as the scapegoat. They have been linked to obesity, heart attacks, and cardiovascular disease. So in order to make their foods more appealing, large food manufacturers have made a concerted effort to limit fats. However, newer research suggests that fats don't deserve their bad rap. 

Two doctors, Dariush Mozaffarian, an adjunct professor at Harvard, and David Ludwig MD, PhD, a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital, co-authored an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association denouncing the government’s negative policy towards fat. On July 9, 2015, they wrote an op-ed published by the New York Times. In their opinion piece, they highlight the negatives of low fat diets and call attention to how many Americans subscribe to the misnomer that reduced fat foods are healthier than non-reduced products. They point to the FDA’s inability to accept the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which raised the percent calories-from-fat ceiling from 30% to 35%.  To this day, the FDA still has not acknowledged the change, and keeps its ceiling at 30%. Ultimately, the authors suggest that the FDA change the 2015 Dietary Guidelines and that we finally “exonerate dietary fat.”

Here are five reasons why we're completely behind that suggestion. 

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Not only do monosaturated fats decrease your bad cholesterol (LDL), but they also increase your body’s production of good cholesterol (HDL). According to Elizabeth Ward M.S., R.D., “[You should] replace the calories you're getting from highly refined carbs with unsaturated fats….Swapping snack chips for a couple of ounces of almonds every day will do the trick.”

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If you are eating healthy, much of the fat you get comes from healthy foods. According to nutritionist Nate Miyaki C.S.S.N., “If you get the majority of your protein from wild, hormone- and antibiotic-free animal foods such as whole eggs, salmon, chicken breasts and thighs, and grass-fed beef, you’ll get the essential, monounsaturated and saturated fats you need in the right amounts and ratios.” 

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That’s right, some types of fat can actually reduce swelling. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish such as salmon and sardines, are the main type of fat associated with reducing inflammation. Although there is controversy over whether fish oil, which contains omega-3, actually hampers swelling, Molly Kimball, RD, sports dietitian with Ochsner's Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans, noted, “It's safe to say omega-3's [in actual fish] have been shown to reduce inflammation.”

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According to nutritionist Jonny Bowden PhD, “While fat has gotten a bum rap, the real villain in the American diet is sugar—and foods that convert to sugar in a New York minute, such as processed cereals, pastas, and breads. It was never fat that was killing us (cardiovascular disease and heart attacks)—it’s been sugar all the time, and we’re consuming record amounts of it, unprecedented in human history.”

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Although saturated fat and cholesterol have been linked to diseases, Bowden argues that this is a misnomer. Bowden cites a 2009 study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that examined 21 studies on how saturated fat impacted people who died from heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. “After analyzing the combined data,” Bowden said, “The authors decided, ‘There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.’ So let’s put this myth to rest.”

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