I’m fascinated by this myth. A lot of people still believe that eating fat will make them fat. Yes, there are bad fats – trans fats – which come from seed oils, margarine, hydrogenated fats and any cooking oil which has been re-heated. These are undoubtedly bad for us – they’re high in calories, have little or no nutritional value and lots of potential for negative effects on our health. But the fats in, for example, olive oil, oily fish, eggs and avocados are fantastically good for us and well worth their calories in terms of nutrition and health benefits. Yet I often hear these foods described as ‘naughty but nice’. The “good” fats in these foods can even counteract the effects of trans fats in our diets. Eating an avocado will certainly provide you with far more good nutrition and health benefits per calorie than a bag of chips!
The one food that has no nutritional value, lots of calories and most definitely can make you fat and sick is …. SUGAR. Science has known this for a long time (Dr John Yudkin’s amazing book ‘Pure, White and Deadly’ was first published in 1972) and yet we’re still told to cut down on dietary fat and take statins. Very simply, when we eat too much sugar (or carbohydrates which are broken down into sugar during digestion), our body stores the calories as fat. When we eat (good) fat, it’s broken down into fatty acids and absorbed for use in cell walls, for brain function, nerve transmission, etc. Any surplus is passed out as waste (pooh!). It’s basic biology … so why is everyone ignoring it? Could it be that the drug companies who make statins and the food companies who make processed food, don’t want us to know this basic biology?
That still leaves the question: why are our medical doctors still telling us to cut down on fat in our diet? And why are statins still widely prescribed on the basis of total blood cholesterol levels? Especially when the risks of taking them are high. Three measurements are currently provided in the UK from a blood cholesterol test: total cholesterol, HDL and LDL. However, we’re not usually told that there are two types of LDL – one that is a large and floaty type of LDL which is connected to eating fats but which is NOT connected to causing ill-health and a smaller, denser type which is most definitely correlated to heart disease (by hardening and furring up arteries). This last type of LDL comes from eating … yes, you guessed it … SUGAR. So, too, do Triglycerides. So why aren’t we told to cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates by our doctors? And why aren’t Triglycerides and the two main types of LDL shown on blood test results? Why do lots of so-called cholesterol-lowering products only refer to a total cholesterol level when it could be high due to having lots of lovely, beneficial HDL? I’ll leave you to work it out … more on sugar in another post.