It all begins in the 1800s when Emperor Napoleon III offered a prize for a butter substitute that would cost very little & wouldn’t rot on extended sea voyages. In response to this, a chemist named Hippolyte Mega-Mourie invented margarine using tallow and skim milk.
With the passage of time, margarine did not prove cheap enough, since raising cattle is expensive. By the 1900s, Chemists found a much cheaper way out, by reinventing margarine using the cheapest of all options, cotton seed! After all, the developments of big players in the market since the Industrial Revolution have sadly seen the minds of men think of nothing more than profits! Just like Nestle successfully sold its infant formula to mothers in the 1940s, claiming it was “more perfect than breastmilk”. And this not only continued to happen today but worsened, the witness being the ever-increasing diseases such as cancers, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, & the list goes on.
Coming back to cotton seeds, these tiny black seeds were a waste product of the cotton plant. Being at the bottom of the food chain with not much use, sacks full of them used to lie around & their storage posed a big problem, since, if left alone, they would ferment and make a terrible stink which meant their oil was reacting with oxygen. The chemists saw an opportunity and were quick enough to spin this worthless byproduct of the textile industry into huge profits by joining hands with the petroleum companies (Since making these oils requires the use of hazardous steps and a degree in chemical engineering) So, think twice before you pick up a bottle of cottonseed oil or any other vegetable oil!
Moving on, after the world war, in the year 1958 a Ph.D. by the name of Dr. Ancel Keys who had studied “Salt-water eels” was elected to study the problems of rising heart attacks by the Minnesota Public Health Department. Surprisingly, the only experience he had in nutrition was when he was asked by the army to design ready-to-eat meals that could be stored for years. Trained in political science, economics, zoology, biostatistics, and physiology, this was all new to him. Keys not just cherry-picked his data, but even used obvious deceptive tactics in his reports. In public, he held animal fats as the culprit but in his laboratory & human experiments margarine was made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which was almost partially made of Trans fats! His actual data show sugar to be more strongly associated with heart disease than saturated fat, but he buried this “fact.” In fact, France was purposely excluded from the study, since the French eat high levels of saturated fat but somehow have low rates of heart disease. If you’d like to know more, I’ve placed some links in the show notes.
Ok, so, At his first scientific meeting, his statistical work was so sloppy that he was criticized by his peers. Filled with ego and vengeance, he vowed to prove them wrong by saying, “I’ll show those guys”. Although Key’s work failed to convince the professional scientists, it did lead the margarine producers to find him, since they both worked for a similar cause. It’s an open secret that the American Heart Association (like many other organizations) depends on large donations from the oil industry, so it wasn’t long before they jumped on the bandwagon with Keys and the Margarine producers. They took his sloppy statistics and twisted data and convinced doctors that animal fat was evil & the margarine made from hydrogenated vegetable oil is healthy.
Within a decade the scenario changed, vegetable oils and ready-to-eat foods were everywhere. Since margarine contains saturated fat, the food industry got the opening it needed to demonize it and put an anti-saturated fat spin on key findings while completely ignoring trans fat. Hence, finally, saturated fat and animal fats were equated, completing Key’s deception.
The rest was a result of the snowball effect, which led to the low-fat movement. Though the scenario has pretty much changed today, many are still stuck in this well-laid deception & follow the mainstream dietary guidelines. But is it really that healthy & nutritive? Let’s take a look.
Since the mainstream dietary guidelines mainly preach a low-fat, carbohydrate-driven food intake, the first very obvious but yet ignored fact is how on earth are we supposed to fulfill our body’s requirements of fat-soluble vitamins? For sure, we are not just bound to be deficient in the necessary vitamins and minerals but fall short even below the recommended RDA levels. And these RDA levels are the bare minimum to avoid diseases. There’s surely a huge disconnect between what we’re asked to eat and the nutritional requirements we’ve been told to meet.
So, what are we supposed to do? The answer is simple, we shouldn’t be afraid of fats, be it butter or olive oil (saturated or unsaturated fat). Although, there can be instances where certain measures might need to be taken before starting the consumption of fats, such as in the case of people who have had their gall bladder removed or hepatic biliary congestion. While in rare cases, fats might need to be restricted due to genetic disorders. However, for the rest, consuming good amounts of fats is a necessity!
So, let’s get to the point, how much should one eat? Most of our fats should be saturated and monounsaturated, while some being polyunsaturated. Speaking of polyunsaturated, you need to make it a point to consume omega-3’s to keep it in balance with the Omega-6’s, which isn’t that difficult to add on into the diet, being available in good amounts in the fats we eat. You really don’t need to consume large amounts of omega 3’s though. The Omega 3-6 balance is easily achievable. You can look forward to this topic in of one of the upcoming parts of this series on fats.
Ok, well, saturated fats are things like coconut & predominantly animal fats & animal-derived products like butter, though it does contain some amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats as well. That also means you can go for fatty meats rather than lean meats. You’d be surprised to know, that animal fat is rich in minerals like Selenium, Magnesium & Iodine, which is highly essential for the health of the thyroid gland, apart from the fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E. Out of the many interesting fatty acids that we get from animal fats, there is arachidonic acid which makes up 11% of our brain & even helps you to look young & have a good strong sturdy skin along with many more other benefits.
Moving on, you can use things like coconut oil, tallow, lard, clarified butter (ghee), etc. for cooking. You could top up your veggies with a nice dollop of butter or even include delicious salsas like pesto & romesco. It’s important to take note of the fact that it’s essential to know the source of your foods like animal-derived products & meats should come from grass-fed, grass-finished sources, while nuts should be mold-free, etc. Additionally, there are other nutritious fat-rich foods like avocados, olives, and various seeds like chia, sunflower, etc. which are great for implementing in your diet as well.
Fats not just provide you with much-needed nutrition but provide satiety as well. So, You can now look forward to enjoying your meals!