Bring on the fat!

I have a sincere love of books, as most people who know me know. However, between the challenges of parenting, working and requiring sleep each night, my love of reading is one of the several things I have practically given up in recent years.

When I signed up for a class on Food and Drink in Cultural Context, I hoped I’d get to finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that I received as a Christmas present in 2008 and only made it through the first few pages before life got too hectic again when I put it down. Unfortunately, the rest of life – most notably separating from my husband of 6 years – has gotten in the way of concentrating on school work, although I’ve finally wrapped up my Digital Storytelling class. Now I get to work on finishing Food and Drink and am determined to plow through some enjoyable books in the process.

I’ve started in on In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan’s latest book. I have the large-print version from the library, but will soon be ordering my very own, as this one is now overdue after already being renewed once. (Note to libraries: don’t lend me books. I always bring them back late.)

What struck me this morning as I read while munching some granola and yoghurt for breakfast (that’s my favorite way to read, head stuck in a book, sitting at the table, eating – something you don’t get to do with kids around) was his diatribe on the fallacy of the argument against eating saturated fat as it causes heart disease. Turns out, it’s all a lie. And I knew it! Low-fat diets, also, don’t really help with weight loss.

He writes, “In a recent review of the relevant research called “Types of Dietary Fat and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Critical Review,” the author proceed to calmly remove, one by one, just about every strut supporting the theory that dietary fat causes heart disease.”

In the review’s second paragraph, it says, “It is now increasingly recognized that the low-fat campaign has be based on little scientific evidence and may have caused unintended health consequences.”

I remember, as a child, when my mum steered me away from the brick of butter in the fridge to the margarine – it was “healthier” for me as it didn’t have saturated fat. But it tasted funny. And it had trans fat. (My mum also tried to convince me that brown eggs were more nutritious than white ones and that there was some condensed nutrition in the crust of bread of some kind. I never have liked eating bread crust – and now can’t as I’m gluten-free. Darn.)

But back to Pollan and saturated fats not being the enemy. “The amount of saturated fat in the diet probably may have little if any bearing on the risk of heart disease, and evidence that increasing polyunsaturated fats in the diet will reduce risk is slim to nil.” Dietary cholesterol also doesn’t increase coronary heart disease.

So bring on the cheesy eggs, please. 🙂

In the paper’s conclusion, it reports that although low-fat diets are supposed to have the benefit of weight loss, there’s no medical evidence to actually support that. In contrast, there was some evidence that replacing fat with carbs leads to weight loss.

Haven’t I been saying this for ages? Is this why I magically lose weight when I eat ice cream? Hmmm…so perhaps self-deprivation and being hungry isn’t the way to go?

I have no intention of pigging out on ice cream every day – it’s not filling enough and has way too much sugar to keep my blood sugar levels stable. I’d probably feel a bit sick after that much fat. But it is satisfying. Like whole milk yogurt.

I’ve always felt a bit guilt for loving butter so much. Or the marbled fat in meat. (Local, hormone- and antibiotic-free, humanely raised meat, that is.) Now? No more. I reclaim my heritage passed down to me from my grandmother’s love of cream and all foods delicious. 🙂 Fortunately, we also love fresh vegetables.