The truth about fats

PHOTO: The truth about fats

Think fats are bad? Think again. Chiropractor Dr Kevin Lau debunks some of the myths surrounding fats in a chapter of his book, Health in your hands.

Myth #1: Heart disease is caused by consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat from animal products while a low-fat, low cholesterol diet is healthier for people.

Truth: During the period of rapid increase in heart disease (1920- 1960), American consumption of animal fats declined, but consumption of hydrogenerated and industrially processed vegetable fats increased dramatically (USDA-HNIS).

The Framington Heart Study is often cited as proof of this myth where residents of Flamington, Massachusetts, who ate more saturated fats, cholesterol and calories had the lowest serum cholesterol levels.

Myth #2: Saturated fat clogs arteries.

Truth: Studies have shown that the fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated (74 per cent), of which 41 per cent are polyunsaturated (Lancet 1994 344:1195), and not the saturated fats of animals or plant such as coconut.

Myth #3: Animal fats cause cancer and heart disease.

Truth: Statistics say the opposite. The fear of butter and animal fat has lead to the drop in consumption in the last century, but the incident of heart disease and cancer has skyrocketed.

Animal fats contain many nutrients that protect against cancer and heart disease; elevated rates of cancer and heart disease are associated with consumption of large amounts of vegetable oil (Federation Proceedings July 1978 37:2215).

Myth #4: Children benefit from a low-fat diet.

Truth: Children on low-fat diets suffer from growth problems, failure to thrive and learning disabilities (Food Chemistry News 10/3/94)


Myth #5: A low-fat diet will make you "feel better...and increase your joy of living."

Truth: Low-fat diets are associated with increased rates of depression, psychological problems, fatigue, violence and suicide (Lancet 3/21/92 Vol 339).

Myth #6: To avoid heart disease, we should use margarine instead of butter.

Truth: Margarine eaters have twice the rate of heart disease as butter eaters (Nutrition Week 3/22/91 21:12).

Myth #7: Asians do not consume enough essential fatty acids (EFAs).

Truth: Asians consume far too much of one kind of EFA (omega-6 EFAs found in most polyunsaturated vegetable oils), but not enough of another kind of EFA (omega-3 EFAs found in fish, fish oils, eggs from pasture-fed chickens, dark green vegetables and herbs, and oils from certain seeds such as flax and chia, nuts such as walnuts and in small amounts in all whole grains) (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1991 54:438-63).

Myth #8: The "cave man" or "hunter and gatherer" diet was low in fat.

Truth: Throughout the world, primitive peoples sought out and consumed fat from fish and shellfish, water fowl, sea mammals, land birds, insects, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, game, eggs, nuts and milk products (Abrams, Food & Evolution 1987).

The fact of the matter is that some fats can actually help you stay thin, improve your metabolism and, and improve your immune system regardless of your Metabolic Type.

Editor's note: More information about Metabolic Typing and how eating right and making lifestyle changes can help improve back problems such as scoliosis can be found in Dr Kevin Lau's book, Health In Your Hands. Dr Lau holds a doctorate in Chiropractic and a Masters degree in Holistic Nutrition.

Dr Kevin Lau is the founder of Health In Your Hands, a series of tools for scoliosis prevention and treatment. The set includes his book Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment, a companion Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction DVD, and the iPhone application ScolioTrack.