For a long time there has been a bit of a stigma towards saturated fat being bad for our health and a main cause for heart disease. This has led to the supermarket shelves being packed out with products low in fat and substitutes for high fat products.
This study was based on very weak scientific evidence which has since been thoroughly disproved and actually, studies show that low fat diets are a poor health choice and can be harmful to health.
Here are some reasons as to why:
1- Low fat diet encourages consumption of harmful foods
Naturally, when the low fat recommended guidelines came out, food manufacturers started producing products that were ‘heart healthy’ and low in fat to market to the health conscious crowd.
The main problems with these foods are that:
1- They taste like crap
2- Didn’t achieve satiety
3- They replace the fat in the product for something less healthy
It was quite common that the low fat diets encouraged the consumption of other foods such as vegetables and whole wheat.
Vegetable oils short term can reduce cholesterol but long term cause harm and are significantly associated with inflammation and heart disease.
A significant portion of the population may be sensitive to wheat gluten. Wheat gluten is generally not great for our gut. Some people may experience minimal symptoms such as bloating, but for the sensitive, it can cause extra symptoms such as pain, stool inconsistency, tiredness, fatigue, bloating and other symptoms.
When low fat guidelines came out, people increased the consumption of the harmful foods, such as sugar, wheat and vegetable oils.
2- It discourages the consumption of healthy foods
Animal foods are high in fat and have great nutritional benefits providing it is quality meat – not processed, and from a good source (such as healthier animals, grass fed, not factory farmed)
The low fat diet discouraged people to eat animal fats because of the saturated fat and cholesterol. Yet, studies show that saturated fat or cholesterol have been ever proven to cause harm, if anything, just for the good! Obesity, diabetes or heart disease is not caused by the consumption of fatty animal foods. What we have to remember is that these foods have been with us all this time, yet the diseases are pretty new in the grand scale of things. Populations all over the world have various diets, such as the Inuit and the Masai, they have a high majority of their calorie intake from animal foods and remain in great health.
Foods that have been given a hard time, that are actually great for health:
Meat – naturally fed meat has a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, CLA, vitamin and minerals and nutrients like carnosine and creatine
Eggs – Loaded with vitamins and minerals, choline, antioxidants
High fat dairy products – grass fed dairy products – vitamin K2 calcium, CLA and other various nutrients
Coconut – Great fat burning properties, better bloop lipids and improved brain function with other various fantastic health benefits
3- Low fat diet can raise triglycerides
Elevated triglycerides in the blood is a well known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
When people go low fat, they usually have a high carb diet. Too many carbohydrates can lead to an increase of blood triglycerides, potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The blood triglycerides are elevated when the liver is turning excess carbohydrates (especially fructose) into fat. So to lower triglycerides, go low carb and high fat – the opposite!
4- Low fat diet can lower the HDL – good cholesterol
Having high levels of HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) is associated with a reduce risk of heart disease. Eating more fat in your diet can raise HDL and eating a high carbohydrate can lead to a reduction, which explains why studies show that when people went low fat and high carb, there was an increase in heart disease risk.
5- Can harm the pattern of LDL (bad cholesterol)
Elevated LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) aka. ‘bad cholesterol’ levels are associated with an increase of cardiovascular disease. However, there are subtypes of LDL – small dense LDL pattern B and large LDL. Pelattern A. It is the small dense particles (sdLDL) that contribute to heart disease, not the large ones.
A high intake of carbs, especially refined carbs increases sdLDL and saturated fat and cholesterol change the LDL particles from the small dense, (bad) subtype to the large (benign) subtype.
Studies show that low fat diet shift the LDL pattern towards the small dense particles and low carb high fat shift them towards the large particles. This basically means that even though low fat diets may cause mild reductions in LDL cholesterol, at the same time they shift pattern of LDL cholesterol from the large LDL towards to the small dense LDL which is very harmful to health.
6- Low fat lowers testosterone levels
Having adequate testosterone levels is important for various aspects of health for men and women and is a very important hormone. When testosterone is low, it can lead to decreased muscle mass, increased body fat, osteoporosis, depression, decreased libido and other things too. Low fat diets can significantly reduce testosterone levels.
7- Low fat diet causes heart disease!
Studies show that traditional populations that don’t eat a western diet have very little heart disease fatality rate.
Populations that adopt the western diet find their are higher statistics in obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The women’s health initiative
These studies compare the low fat diet to the standard western diet. Surprising to many, the low fat diet is just as effective at causing heart disease just as much as the standard western diet.