You can’t blame patients for being skeptical. After years of advocating low-fat diets, Dr. Oz recently declared that eating saturated fat might not actually be all that bad. And the month before that, the press hyped a new study that indicated there’s no good evidence that saturated fats cause heart disease. The American Heart Association, on the other hand, continues to promote low-fat diets. So what should physicians tell patients now?

Most practicing doctors are poorly equipped to make sense of it all. (Even the doctors on the 2013 cholesterol guideline committee hired other people to read the literature for them.) What should doctors advise—stick with low fat or start cooking with lard?

In the new book, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, science writer Nina Teicholz implies that we should do the latter. Like many people, Teicholz herself was once a disciple of low-fat diets—but after she took an assignment writing restaurant reviews, she found herself losing weight on a diet of heavy creams and fatty meats. Her curiosity was piqued, and she began a nearly decade-long critical review of the research on dietary fat. Her conclusion? Eating saturated fat can be the key to developing a healthy and lean body.

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