What? Eat more cheese? And meat? It’s not a joke. In case you missed the latest news about saturated fat and heart disease, it’s about to challenge all your nutritional beliefs. After decades of being told that saturated fat causes heart disease, now experts are saying it’s not so. The new findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and included 72 studies in 18 countries involving over 600,000 people. There is no connection, they say, between eating saturated fats like the ones found in meat and dairy products, and heart disease. And that’s not all.
They also found no evidence of benefits from other kinds of fats like canola and olive oil. Trans fats, however, were still linked with a higher risk of heart disease. Even more surprising is that a type of saturated fat in milk and dairy products actually reduced the risk of heart disease! The biggest threats now? Sugar and excessive carbs.
Even Dr. Andrew Weil says his thinking on saturated fat has evolved. He writes, “Given the results of these studies, I no longer recommend choosing low-fat dairy products. I believe the healthier choice is high-quality, organic dairy foods in moderation. My personal choice would be high-quality, natural cheese a few times a week. I don’t advise eating saturated fat with abandon, because the foods that are full of it (salty bacon, conventionally raised beef, processed cheese) are often not the best for our health. Try to limit it to about ten percent of daily calories. You may choose to use your “budget” of saturated fat calories on ice cream, butter or high-quality natural cheese, or even an occasional steak (from organic, grass-fed, grass-finished cattle, please).
I still recommended skinless chicken and turkey because poultry fat (concentrated just beneath the skin) contains arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation. I also still recommend strictly avoiding foods that contain chemically altered fats (such as hydrogenated vegetable oils found in many prepared foods), as these do appear to raise cardiovascular disease risk. Continue to emphasize fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limit sweeteners and other high-glycemic-load carbs.”
Wow! I need time to absorb this. For decades the accepted wisdom has been just the opposite and I’ve spent my adult life avoiding saturated fat, eating the leanest of beef and always reduced-fat cheese. And even then, it was in moderation. My cholesterol has always been elevated but I assumed it was hereditary. Now I don’t know what to think. I don’t even think full fat cheese would taste good! And I like cookies. Should I bake them with butter? Should I stop baking cookies entirely? I need time to figure things out.