Diabetes causes people to watch what they eat, especially in regards to carbohydrates, but little emphasis is placed on fats. Fats are need to be considered a part of the diet and have often been made the villain via trans and saturated fats. But fat can in fact be beneficial and there may be another culprit behind cardiovascular disease.
The Seven Countries Studies by Dr. Ancel Keys which began in 1956 examined the risk of heart disease based on lifestyle and diet. He found that in countries where more fat was eaten, there was a greater cause of heart disease, concluding that fat was the cause of heart disease. But just because people that eat fat tend to have heart disease does not reflect causation.
Debate and criticism has been apparent with the “Seven Countries Study”. In a study released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found no association regarding the intake of saturated fat and an increase in cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, or stroke.
In 2014, Time magazine published an article vindicating fat of guilt:
The war against fat was started by one man: Much of what we think we know about the supposed dangers of high fat intake comes from a single research project by a charismatic Minnesota pathologist named Ancel Keys. His Seven Countries Study compared the health and diet of nearly 13,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Japan and Europe, and ostensibly found that populations that consumed large amounts of saturated fats in meat and dairy had high levels of heart disease, while those who eat more grains, fish, nuts and vegetables did not. The influential Keys relentlessly advocated the theory that fat caused heart disease, persuading the AHA in 1961 to issue the country’s first-ever guidelines targeting saturated fat—and he wasn’t shy about shouting down any researcher who questioned his data.
Yet it turns out there was a lot to question. Keys chose the countries most likely to confirm his hypothesis, while excluding nations like France—where the diet is rich in fat but heart disease is rare—that might have challenged it. “When researchers went back and analyzed some of the data from the Seven Countries study, they found that what best correlated with heart disease was no saturated fat intake but sugar,” says Teicholz.
Another study via UCLA shows that of the 75% of people winding up in the emergency room with a heart attack, the sample population showed normal cholesterol levels. What was shocking however was that they either had type 2 diabetes or were pre-diabetic.
Doctor Mark Hyman said that a recent talk with the researches of the Joslin Diabetes Center stated that the low fat recommendations for diabetics which are promoted by the American Diabetic Association have been more detrimental than helpful.
So what type of fats should you be eating? Well there are a wide selection of healthy fats and I’ve listed a few of my favorites:
- Avocados – great as guacamole or as a spread
- Nuts – walnuts, almonds and macadamias are my favorite
- Fish – fatty fish high in Omega-3 fats like salmon and mackerel
Fat has been vilified but the big take away now is that fat is actually an important part of a healthy diet and fat does not cause heart disease, it’s sugar!