Why Animal Fat is Good For You
By Sam Wass, Medium Well
In the last century, the human diet has changed more dramatically than at any other time in our existence. As food became cheaper and more available, we increased our calorie intake and became a larger and heavier society. Until fairly recently animal fat was an important part of our diet, but then it became ‘healthy eating’ enemy number one, and we hugely reduced the amount of animal fat we ate.
We now eat more trans fat, more sugars, more processed foods, and more vegetable oils than at any other time in history. Yet after more than 30 years of reducing the intake of animal fats, we are not healthier, just heavier. We need to stop and have a think about what we are eating and why. Our experiment with reducing fat hasn’t worked, it’s just made food taste worse.
It turned out that diets low in fat, leave people feeling hungry, depressed and prone to illness and weight gain. We replaced the reduced animal fat in our diet with sugars and other refined carbohydrates, which essentially got us fat. We replaced animal fats with man-made hydrogenated fats which are full of trans fat, which are difficult for our body to break down and process, so instead we store them as fat. They increase LDL and lower HDL which adversely affects cholesterol, and they promote diabetes and obesity by interfering with insulin production.
The other fats we’ve replaced animal fats with are polyunsaturated fats, used for cooking oils. As well as damaging cells, polyunsaturated fats have affected the balance of essential fatty acids (omega-6 and omega-3) in our bodies. Nutritionists recommend ideal consumption of twice as much omega-6 as omega-3 would be most beneficial to us, but we’re currently consuming up to twenty times more omega6 than omega-3, which has been linked to all kinds of issues such as cancer, weight gain and digestive issues. Sources of omega-3 are decreasing, such as meat and butter from grass-fed animals, whereas animals raised on a diet high in grain are full of omega-6.
Fear of fat is pretty much engrained on us, and we must try and alter this perception. While human nutrition is naturally complex, and no two bodies function identically, for the majority of people, eating fat isn’t the ‘health risk’ it was supposed to be. In fact, fat is good.
We need to re-evaluate our relationship with what we eat. Society has become so disconnected from the source of our food that we have now have less knowledge about where it comes from, how we buy it, how we cook it, and what and when we should be eating things. In the simplest terms, our generation has lost the ability and skills required to cook simple meals from scratch. We understand that we have to eat, but unless you cook a meal yourself you don’t understand what you are eating. If we do nothing about this we’ll leave generations behind us to suffer the control of big corporate global giant food producers.
We spend less time than ever sourcing food, preparing food and eating food. That can’t be healthy for society either socially or physically. Cooking and sharing a meal is an essential part of civilisation. It cultivates friendship and family bonding, and is a place to discuss, share and debate ideas.
To pass on this knowledge and understanding of food, we need to do start educating and informing people, especially the young. It’s not about celebrity chefs, social media self publicists or a quick ready-meal in front of the TV. It’s going to require us to become more responsible about where our food comes from, how it is raised, and how it is killed. We need to know how to cook them the best way, possible from the nose through to the tail, including the fat. Only then will be able to restore both our health and also the pleasure of the dinner table and eating.