Remember back in the '90s, when everything on store shelves came with a giant "low fat" badge? Scientists have completely changed their minds on that. A new paper written by leading researchers urges dietary guidelines to stop demonizing fat, once and for all.
Every five years, the federal government releases a list of dietary guidelines, which affect the food served at schools and at military bases, and help shape policies around food, nutrition, and agriculture. The new edition of those guidelines comes out later this year, and scientists have been weighing in on how things should change for the next five years.
An influential committee recommended that the government drop any guidelines surrounding dietary cholesterol, since research shows it doesn't actually significantly affect blood cholesterol. The committee also didn't include an upper limit on total fat consumption, and that has huge implications.
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian and Dr. David Ludwig push for the government to end restrictions on fat. It's all about the type of fat you eat, not the amount, they say. Many studies have now found that eating lots of healthy fats, like nuts, vegetable oils, and fish, are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
But of course, they're not giving you license to eat whatever you want. They recommend the government set limits for refined grains and added sugar instead. And they still have their sights on limiting saturated fat, which is found in foods like butter, cheese, and beef. So sadly, your July 4 barbecue is probably still bad for you.
Jaclyn London, nutrition director for the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, says focusing on fat versus carbs is a bad idea in the first place. After all, if you're cutting out carbs, you might gorge on bad fats instead. "The backlash of demonizing or glorifying any nutrient, no matter how good or bad it is for you, can lead to overcompensating on either side of the spectrum," she says "At the end of the day, the most important takeaway is that you should concentrate on a daily calorie-limit rather than cutting anything out."
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