Time to forgive old foes and open our minds to…. fat
“Eat healthy fat and prevent cancer and heart disease. Avoid fat and increase your risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity.” Mark Sisson
It is a new year and a good time to challenge old myths. The next few columns will be committed to blowing old nutritional myths to smithereens. We will start with bombing the low fat fable.
The world has been lead to believe that fat is bad. The common agreement is that it can kill you with heart attacks, cancer or any number of diseases. To top that all off it makes us well… fat! Our culture has turned into this fat phobic society, due to this thinking, and continues to grow fatter and fatter and have more and more disease. Something is rotten in Denmark.
The truth of the matter is that fat is actually good for you. I mean really good for you. There are evil fats that should be avoided at all costs, such as trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. But fats that have been created by Mother Nature are good for you, no, they are great for you.
Eating healthy fat is an excellent way to prevent cancer and stave off the evil heart attack that we all fear. It is also a can help you lose weight and feel great. Yes, loose weight. By eating good fat, you will feel full and satisfied in a way that actually sustains you so you won’t be tempted to over load on empty carbs. By eating a low fat diet, you will never feel satisfied and you will eventually gain back all the weight you lost and more, guaranteed.
This low fat fable was all started in the 1960s by a well respected scientist, Ancel Keys. Keys formulated the “lipid hypothesis” that promoted the link between fat intake, cholesterol levels, and heart disease. The US Senate’s McGovern Committee in the 1970s decided to adopt this hypothesis as an American standard for eating. The only problem was that that it was a hypothesis and not proven.
In fact, all of the studies over the years have proven otherwise. The highly respected and ongoing Nurses’ Health Study that has tracked over 127,000 nurses over 2 decades has showed no statistical association between total fat intake and heart disease. There have been at least four large studies on men comparing disease rates and diet which “showed no evidence that men who ate less fat lived longer or had fewer heart attacks”.
Obviously, if you are at high risk of heart disease and have very high levels of cholesterol, you need to reduce your cholesterol any way you can. What has not been shown convincingly, however, is that someone who is not at risk will have their life cut short as a result of regularly eating more than the recommended level of dietary fat.
Meanwhile, the link between low-fat diets and weight loss hasn’t fared well either. The ongoing Women’s Health Initiative – a 100 million dollar study on women’s health – enrolled 50,000 women in a randomized trial, putting half of them on a draconian diet that provided only 20 per cent of their calories from fat. After three years they had lost, on average, just one kilogram.
In my next article I will discuss what are the healthy oils that one can eat to save oneself and how much fat should actually be in our diet. A few good books to read on this subject are “Bad Calories Good Calories” by Gary Taubes, and “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson. Both are available at Cloud and Leaf bookstore.
It is time to rethink this old paradigm that has not successful. Time to think outside of these old and moldy hypotheses that were never true to begin with. Open your mind and your mouth and begin a new way of seeing food and our health. Here’s to a new and healthy year and full fat salad dressings!
Roasted honey pear salad
This is a lovely salad that is dressy enough for special occasions. Use a melon baller to core the pears super easily.
The salad dressing
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon of finely minced fresh rosemary
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
8 cups of fresh spinach, stemmed if needed
4 cups of arugula (optional)
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
2 firm but ripe Bosc pears (do not peel), halved, cored
A handful of fresh rosemary sprigs, pulled into smaller pieces
¼ cup of honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating, place the pear halves on a cutting board, cut side down. Starting 1 inch from the stem cut lengthwise into 1/3” to ½” inch thin slices till the whole thing is sliced. Scatter the rosemary sprigs on a lightly greased, rimmed baking sheet then place the pear halves on top of the sprigs. Carefully fan out the pear halves. (The first one is kinda hard, but you’ll get the hang of it.) Drizzle the honey over the pears and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake the pears for 15 minutes or until just tender. Let them rest on the baking sheet till cool. You can do this part a day ahead and store in the fridge till you use them.
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a jar. Put the lid on and shake it up till well blended. Combine the spinach, arugula, onions and cranberries and toss with some of the dressing. Divvy out into four bowls and place one pear half on top of the greens mix. Sprinkle with the nuts and cheese and serve with the left over dressing. Bon appetite!