Recently, old research records were found, which cast even further doubt on “the dogma that eating vegetable fats instead of animal fats is good for the heart.”
Meanwhile, a new commentary in the British Journal of Sports Medicine pounded home the point we’ve mentioned before: Saturated fat is not the bad guy. As its authors bluntly put it, “Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong.”
What does improve heart health? The authors point to the research supporting a Mediterranean-style diet, along with physical activity, and stress reduction.
It is time to shift the public health message in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease away from measuring serum lipids and reducing dietary saturated fat. Coronary artery disease is a chronic inflammatory disease and it can be reduced effectively by walking 22 min a day and eating real food. There is no business model or market to help spread this simple yet powerful intervention.
That’s not the case with unreal food – engineered products that offer little in the way of sound nutrition and plenty that your body just doesn’t need nor was even designed to eat. Products, of course, can be marketed like crazy, including low-fat versions of high-fat favorites.
And what replaces the fat? Sugar and other refined carbohydrates.
Remember when SnackWells were introduced back in the 1990s? These fat-free cookies were treated like a miracle. Yet folks who ate them gained all kinds of weight. Then, the theory was that consumers were just eating too many. The health halo of “fat-free” was a green light to indulge.
Yet the composition of those cookies made a difference, too, as new research in Physiology & Behavior reminds.
The study observed three groups of rats over four weeks. One group had a low-fat, high-sugar diet; one, a high-fat, high-sugar diet; the last, a balanced diet. Researchers monitored body weight, caloric intake, body composition, and fecal samples.
Both high-sugar groups gained not just more body fat but liver fat – a step on the road to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Both high-sugar groups also showed chronic inflammation in the intestinal tract and brain.
Former studies in rats conducted by [lead author Krzysztof} Czaja have shown that brain inflammation alters gut-brain communication by damaging the vagus nerve, which controls sensory signals, including the brain’s ability to determine when one is full.
“The brain changes resulting from these unbalanced diets seem to be long term, and it is still not known if they are reversible by balanced diets,” Czaja said.
And here’s the kicker:
“What’s really troubling in our findings is that the rats consuming high-sugar, low-fat diets didn’t consume significantly more calories than the rats fed a balanced diet,” Czaja said. “Our research shows that in rats fed a low-fat, high-sugar diet, the efficiency of generating body fat is more than twice as high — in other words, rats consuming low-fat high-sugar diets need less than half the number of calories to generate the same amount of body fat.”
Sugar: It does a body no good.