We'd be living in a utopia if the world of nutrition advice were informed by unbiased research and by people whose sole interest were human health. That is NOT the reality.
Sadly, the world of nutrition is clouded by interests other promoting health. It is well documented, though not widely known, that companies in the food industry have funded "research" for decades. Their "research" invariably has produced nutrition conclusions that are favorable to their bottom line and their advertising strategies.
Many of these conclusions made their way into the generally accepted nutrition advice, widely endorsed by the medical profession, including the American Heart Association.
They have continued to endorse these nutrition guidelines even though over the last couple of decades, true, independent research has proven them completely wrong, and sometimes dangerous.
Classic examples of nutrition advice that is still the gold standard of the USDA (which stands for US Department of Agriculture, by the way...):
- "To reduce your risk for heart disease, cut back on saturated fat..." (Source)
- "Choosing unsaturated oils instead of saturated fat can help you maintain a healthy eating style." (Source)
- "A healthy eating pattern includes oils... Use oils like canola, olive, and others instead of solid fats (like butter and stick margarine, shortening, lard, and coconut oil)." (Source)
ALL of these are absolutely false.
- On #1 above: Saturated fat has been disproven to be a risk factor for heart disease. Ask the French if you don't believe me. The standard French diet contains a lot more saturated fat and their heart disease rates are lower. US doctors call it the "French Paradox" because of their stubbornness, insisting saturated fat is the culprit (Source and source)
- One #2 above: Unsaturated Omega-6 oils promote inflammation, ESPECIALLY when used for cooking. In fact, unsaturated fats are more likely to be a culprit behind heart disease which is brought about by inflammation. (Source -- one of MANY)
- On #3 above: The fact that the USDA insists on lumping butter, lard and coconut oil in the same category as margarine and shortening reveals the depths of their negligence in their guidelines. The vast majority of margarines and shortenings are man-made TRANS fats. The chemistry and biological implications for human health are completely different than saturated fats that come from nature. (Source)
I've been teaching this for over a decade now, and frankly, I increasingly lose my patience when I see the "fat is bad" message continued to be hammered into people.
Research comes out every day continuing to disprove the nutrition advice on fats that the USDA and American Heart Association insist on shoving down our throats. And doctors continue to prescribe Statin drugs like candy.
It makes me angry.
Here's one recent, excellent article published in Green-Med Info, providing further reasons why completely avoiding canola oil is a good idea. I highly recommend it.
What fats to eat?
1. Eat Omega-3 fats for their anti-inflammatory properties:
- Wild caught fish, especially sardines, anchovies and herring. Alternatively a sustainably sourced, purified fish oil supplement is a good option.
- Walnuts and other nuts
- Fresh flax seeds and chia seeds
2. Use saturated fats for cooking. They are more stable and won't oxidize under heat:
- Coconut oil
- Clarified butter (the solids in regular butter turn brown quickly)
- Lard or other rendered fat
3. Use unsaturated oils only at room temperature:
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
Unsaturated oils are highly susceptible to oxidizing (becoming rancid) when exposed to heat and light. A rancid oil is a highly pro-inflammatory oil.