Dietary fats – the good, the bad, the maligned

Dietary fats – the good, the bad, the maligned

The funniest line I ever read in an academic paper was “America is a country of low-fat food and high-fat people,” penned by Professor Brian Wansink.

This droll observation reminded me of a common scenario where an overweight person orders coffee with low-fat milk – and cake on the side. In fact, Wansink’s research confirmed overweight people were more likely to overcompensate (eat more) when they perceived a product as low in fat.

For years we’ve been told to avoid fat, and the food industry has gleefully profited by producing a vast array of low-fat products.

One problem with this is many ‘low-fat’ products tend to be high in sugar or carbohydrates (check the amount of sugar per 100 grams in a low-fat compared to normal fat flavoured yoghurt next time you visit a supermarket).

Another problem is this low-fat crusade was based on the premise that fat is loaded with calories. However, calories are not necessarily equal.

Fat has also been blamed for all sorts of health problems like heart disease, but the evidence base is cracking under interrogation. Not all fats are bad – in fact some fats are essential in a healthy diet.

Confusion around certain fats and how heart disease risk is measured continues to muddy the nutrition landscape. Insights can be gleaned from understanding the different fats and a tour of the research.


Published in Nutridate, Warringal Publications, May 2018.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons