By Dr. Mercola
In their "News in Health" newsletter, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) got one thing right -- they note that you need a certain amount of fat in your diet to stay healthy.
They acknowledge that fats help your body absorb important vitamins, including vitamins A, D and E.
They also correctly point out that fats are especially important for infants and toddlers because they are necessary for proper growth and development.
But when it comes to what kinds of fat you should eat, they get everything completely wrong.
This is particularly shocking since they are considered one of the leading expert health institutions in the world and their mission is to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone.
But they missed the truth big time on this issue.
They once again demonize saturated fats, including the healthy fat found in coconut oil, spreading the old canard that such fats will lead to cardiovascular disease.
Meanwhile, they promote corn- and canola oil as "healthful."
As for how much fat you might need, the NIH recommends between 20-35 percent for adults, and 25-35 percent for children between the ages of four and 18. The US Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines are even crazier, advising you to consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats.
As I and other nutritional experts have warned, most people actually need upwards of 50-70 percent healthful fats in their diet for optimal health! The NIH also continues to spread misinformation about calories, incorrectly stating that:
"… when it comes to weight loss, the source of calories ... isn't as important as the number of calories you consume."
As I've discussed before, this is 180 degrees from the truth…
The Truth about Saturated Fat
The idea that saturated fat is bad for your heart has become so ingrained in the medical and health community that it's very difficult to break through that misinformation barrier. The fact of the matter is that the saturated fat-heart disease link was a hypothesis that did not stand up to further scrutiny... Gary Taubes discussed this lack of evidence in an interview I did with him a few months ago.
Total Video Length: 1:22:58
Taubes is a science and health journalist, and author of several books, including Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, and Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. There is however evidence showing the fallacy of this dogma. For example, one 2010 meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed 21 studies relating to the risk of heart disease, stroke, and saturated fats, concluding that:
"… there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD [coronary heart disease] or CVD [stroke and cardiovascular disease]."
Emerging evidence actually suggests your diet should be at least half healthy fat, and possibly as high as 70 percent. My personal diet is about 60-70 percent healthy fat, and both Paul Jaminet, PhD., author of Perfect Health Diet, and Dr. Ron Rosedale, M.D., an expert on treating diabetes through diet, agree that the ideal diet includes somewhere between 50-70 percent fat. It's important to understand that your body requires saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources (such as meat, dairy, certain oils, and tropical plants like coconut) for optimal functioning. For example, saturated fats:
Provide building blocks for cell membranes, hormones, and hormone-like substances Act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K Are required for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, and for mineral absorption Act as antiviral agents (caprylic acid) Help lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids) Modulate genetic regulation and help prevent cancer (butyric acid)
Why a High-Fat Diet is Healthier than a Low-Fat Diet
Aside from those benefits, when your body burns non-vegetable carbohydrates like grains and sugars, powerful adverse hormonal changes typically occur. These detrimental changes do not occur when you consume fibrous vegetables or healthy fats. This likely explains the mountain of scientific evidence showing that calorie restricted diets extend lifespan.
Mostly likely it is not a calorie issue per se, but rather it's related to the type of calories restricted—specifically calories from sugars and grains. As stated earlier, the National Institutes of Health makes a statement that is diametrically opposed to the truth when they say that the source of the calories are not as important as the overall number of calories consumed. On the contrary, the source of the calories you eat has far greater impact on your weight and health than the overall number.
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, fructose in particular is 'isocaloric but not isometabolic." This means you can have the same amount of calories from fructose or glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose and fat, but the metabolic effect will be entirely different despite the identical calorie count.
In the same vein, Weight Watchers also finally caught on to this truth and altered their famous calorie counting system to give more weight to nutritional value of food rather than just counting calories. It's really important to understand that all calories CANNOT be treated the same—especially if you're struggling with excess weight and/or health issues! So please, understand that it's far more important to look at the source of the calories than counting them.
And saturated fats, although supplying more calories, will NOT cause you to get fat, nor will it promote heart disease.
Back in 2004, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report accurately concluded that carbohydrates (read sugars/fructose and grains) are the reason why Americans have been consuming increasing numbers of calories over the past 30-plus years. As I've mentioned before, the number one source of calories in the American diet is in the form of high fructose corn syrup, primarily in the form of breads and sodas. Half of the U.S. population over age 2 consumes sugary drinks daily, and this is a primary factor driving obesity and related epidemics of diabetes and heart disease.
Obesity rates jumped from 14.5 percent of U.S. adults in 1971, to nearly 28 percent in 2010. Previous research linked this increase to a greater intake of salty snacks, pizza and other fast foods -- in other words, a greater intake of carbohydrates, not healthful fats.
Most People Need Less Carbs, More Fat
Today, I believe it's safe to say that most people eat far too many carbs and not enough healthy saturated fats, and their health suffers accordingly. Severely limiting grain carbs and sugars, while simultaneously increasing your fat consumption can be the U-turn you've been looking for if you are currently overweight and/or your health is suffering.
As a general rule, when you cut down on carbs, you need to increase your fat consumption. Both are sources of much-needed energy, but fats are a source of energy that is far more ideal than carbohydrates. Replacing carbs with more protein is not a wise choice as it can produce similar adverse hormonal changes as burning non-vegetable carbs.
Using Hunger as a Guide to Determine How Much Fat You Need
Many do not realize this, but frequent hunger may be a major clue that you're not eating correctly. Not only is it an indication that you're consuming the wrong types of food, but it's also a sign that you're likely consuming them in lopsided ratios for your individual biochemistry.
Fat is far more satiating than carbs, so if you have cut down on carbs and feel ravenous, thinking you "can't do without the carbs," remember this is a sign that you haven't replaced them with sufficient amounts of fat. So go ahead and add a bit more. You do want to make sure you're adding the correct types of fat though. And vegetable oils like canola and corn oil, with the National Institutes of Health recommends is NOT on the healthy list…
Healthy Fat Guidelines
Sources of healthy fats include:
Olives and Olive oil Coconuts and coconut oil Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk Raw nuts, such as, almonds or pecans Organic pastured egg yolks Avocados Grass fed meats Palm oil Unheated organic nut oils
Another healthful fat you want to be mindful of is animal-based omega-3. Deficiency in this essential fat can cause or contribute to very serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. For more information about omega-3's and the best sources of this fat, please review this previous article.