Saturated fats – good or harmful?

Saturated fats – good or harmful?

My article in the Jersey Evening Post  It had to be 800 words, so here are the 800:

JEP Opinion Piece – Saturated Fats: healthful or Harmful?

Exposing the lies and telling you the truth about nutrition
Exposing the lies and telling you the truth about nutrition

Folks, you and I have been lied to, and so many of us have suffered the consequences. No, I’m not talking about the Finance saga; I’m talking about the vilification of saturated fats and the glorification of ‘healthy whole grains’. What if I were to tell you it is these grains, seed oils and sugars that damage your arteries and not dietary saturated fats?

I know some of you will already be shouting ‘What a load of rubbish!’, but bear with me and let’s trot back in time to the early 1980s to when the Nationals were headlining with, ‘It’s Official – Pasta is Not Fattening!’ and printing delicious recipes to replace our meat and two veg or Vesta curries. Up until then, everyone knew pasta and its ilk was indeed fattening, so whence the volte-face?

Let’s nip back a decade more to where we saw an unseemly battle between UK’s John Yudkin who claimed sugar was ‘pure, white and deadly’ and the US’s Ancel keys who proclaimed ‘fats clog your arteries’ and sugars were fine.

Yudkin was correct and Keys had based his recommendations on cherry-picked data, but Keys was far more eloquent and influential and won the argument.

As a result, the blinkered USDA came up with a new food pyramid advocating diets rich in carbohydrates, primarily wheat based, and low in fats; the distinction between fat types came later. The UK jumped on the new dietary bandwagon.

Manufacturers rubbed their hands in glee and came up with all manner of ‘low fat’, sugar-laden, grain-containing goods – the more addictive the better.

Later we were to see Big Pharma also in tears of joy as they needed to sell more medicines to help all the people who were following the new dietary guidelines deal with their subsequent illnesses such as heart disease, coeliac disease, IBS, arthritis, tooth decay and diabetes.

Finally, totally ignoring the way our ancestors ate, saturated fats were demonised: they are solid at room temperature and it ‘made sense’ that the solid fat on our plates somehow re-emerged as solid deposits along our arteries.

Sorry, but it just doesn’t happen that way – but where the USA goes, the UK follows: jump back to 2016 and we have the NHS’s EatBadly Plate and government officials scratching their heads as to what to do about our increasing levels of obesity and diabetes.
Polyunsaturated fats became the new black.

We are encouraged to use seed-based, highly processed (using nasty chemicals) and unstable oils for cooking with. Unstable? Yes, ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated oils spoil easily in light and when heated, forming toxic transfats which we then gulp down in the mistaken belief these oils are good for us. Our artery walls become inflamed and ‘rough’, and this is when we start building up arterial plaques.

It gets worse: sugars, including those in fruit juices, cause even more problems: ongoing excess glucose results in insulin and leptin resistance, culminating in harmful belly fat build up, obesity, heart disease and diabetes; fructose, delivered in huge amounts to the liver, is made into fatty acids which either circulate in the blood, making levels too high, or get stored in the liver causing the harmful condition of ‘non-alcoholic fatty liver’.

And what of the grains – our breads, cereals and cakes? This may surprise you, but grains raise your blood sugar even more than eating sugar off a spoon does. Wholegrains are touted as being better for health; the thing is, they are not so much ‘better’ as ‘less bad’ for you. Wholegrains also contain lectins and more – all designed to poison insects and mould – and they do a good job on hurting your gut too.

Oh no! What to do?

It’s easy: use saturated fats for cooking with and rejoice in eating fatty foods. Saturated fats are not only stable at cooking temperatures, but they are a necessary part of your diet: your body uses them not only for energy but in structures and processes.
Eschew seed oils and ditch manufactured low fat foods and toast, and look around at what Jersey has to offer.

Delight in full fat creams, cheeses and butter from Jersey Dairy; savour local free range eggs, chicken, shellfish, fish, Angus beef and lamb; and experiment with dishes based around local tomatoes, broccoli, avocados, cauliflower, cabbage, chard and more. Make sumptuous and healthful breads and cakes using almond and coconut flours and 95% cocoa chocolate, and snack on tree nuts.

And what of delicious Jersey Royals? If you are trying to lose weight, eat them cold or raw, grated into a salad: cold and raw potatoes contain resistant starch which doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels and provides food for your good gut bacteria. If your waistline is fine, go right ahead and enjoy them with lashings of Jersey butter.

Bouan appétit!

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