It’s a common conception that fat in your food is bad for you. At least, that’s how it’s always been branded. Look no further than the local supermarket for proof, with its countless ‘low fat’ options labelled as ‘healthy‘ alternatives to the full-fat meal—fat which has been traditionally linked to issues such as heart disease and early mortality. Yet, it’s possible we’ve been thinking about fat in all the wrong ways. Or at least, we’ve made a mistake in thinking of fats as a group.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge recently looked at 72 studies in 18 countries covering 600,000 people, and decided that there needs to be ‘a careful reappraisal’ of the link between different types of fat and cardiovascular disease. The study, led by Rajiv Chowdhury, found that while there were two types of fat that were consistently linked to heart disease—saturated fat (as found in palm oil and animal products) and trans fats—a fat found in dairy products called margaric acid and two types of omega-3 (as found in oily fish) actually appear to lower one’s risk of heart disease.
It’s possible, therefore, that fatty foods such as butter and bacon may not be as dangerous as we have been led to believe—although moderation in consumption of these foods, as well as red wine and red meat, is advised, as the UK’s National Health Service counsels eating no more than the equivalent of one 70g beef burger per day.
Still, it’s definitely something to think about. The question remains: to what extent are our grocery stores and food companies looking out for our best interests? It may be worthwhile to reevaluate the health truths we take for granted without first finding the facts on our own.