Fat is not necessarily your enemy

Protein, protein, and protein. It's always the topic of discussion in the health and fitness industry along with its attached mate, fat. Is it healthy? Or is it what's causing obesity, heart disease, and more?

Earlier this week, a Public Health Collaboration report on healthy eating and weight loss in the UK concluded that when it comes to healthy eating and weight loss, we're doing it all wrong. In fact, they opine not to vilify fat, but to eat more of it.

Their report includes the following:

a) Eat more fat. The healthiest foods (meat, fish, nuts, eggs, dairy) all contain saturated fat; and

b) Saturated fat does not cause heart disease.

A fork in the road

Health experts created the report, yet other experts are up in arms in disagreement, ranting that the report's findings are dangerous. There's a fork in the healthy road, so which way should consumers go?

Most people know the difference between Tim Tams versus Twix and AFL versus rugby league, but how many know the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats? According to the Dieticians Association of Australia:

Saturated fat

A BAD fat which is solid at room temperature. It is mainly found in animal products but can be found in some plant sources.


Unsaturated fats

A HEALTHY fat which is liquid at room temperature. Healthy unsaturated fats come in two main forms, polyunsaturated (omega 3 and 6) and monounsaturated (olive oil, nuts).

Fat facts

The amount of fat in foods vary. Here are some popular foods and their fat / content:

200g lamb – 42g fat (18g saturated), 50g protein

200g sirloin steak – 28g fat (12g saturated), 54g protein

200g chicken breast – 7.2g fat (2g saturated), 62g protein

200g pork loin – 7g fat (2.4g saturated), 52g protein

200g salmon – 26g fat (6.2g saturated), 40g protein

2 eggs – 10g fat (3.2g saturated), 12g protein

1 cup of milk – 8g fat (4.6g saturated), 8g protein

2/3 cup of Greek yoghurt – 8g fat (5g saturated), 11g protein

1 cup quinoa – 4g fat (0g saturated), 8g protein

½ cup almonds – 23g fat (1.7g saturated), 10g protein

200g tofu – 8g fat (0g saturated), 32g protein

1 cup black beans – 1g fat (0g saturated), 15g protein

Dieticians demonise saturated fat because it's commonly found in the processed junk we eat, increasing cholesterol, artery blockage, and possibly a heart attack. The PHC report simply states: Eat real food. Avoid fake food. Be active every day.

It's hard to argue with either of those stances.

Weird science

In the food and wellness industry, opinions are like … rump steaks. Everybody's got one, but some like it raw, medium rare, medium, or well done. I'm semi-confused as well, but, I inherently know to eat fresh, eat less (control portions), move the body, watch the booze and bad snacks, and drink plenty of water.

Yesterday's science from the CSIRO is old news then replaced by today's science at Harvard. A nutritionist says X, then a dietician says Y. Then Gwyneth Paltrow says Z. Then a paleo advocate who took a weekend course online says it's A, B, and C. And we're all battling against food companies with massive financial stakes in what we consume, and pharmaceuticals that profit from unhealthy consumers.

You say poh-tay-toe, I say poh-tah-toe, 'til somebody calls the whole thing off because they don't recommend starchy foods.

Food fight

One hundred years from now, we're going to look back and think: "Damn it. As a culture, we didn't give those farmers and fishermen the care and a voice they required. If we just would have asked them: 'Which fruits and veggies are in season? Have you baked fresh bread today? And how is your protein fed and looked after?'"

Fill your baskets at the farm, fill the farmers' pockets with a bit of cash, and the food debate and obesity slowly goes away.

Health science is like the gelato shop – choose the flavour that suits your tastebuds. In 2016, we seem to be more confused and getting further away from agreement on what's a healthy diet.

An uneducated consumer can be pushed into a healthy direction. A confused consumer is diabetes and heart disease waiting to happen.

Can these experts, food companies, and pharmaceuticals get together and agree?

Fat chance.

What's your opinion on a low- versus high-fat diet? Let Michael know in the Comments section.