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Putting the Fat Back into Food

December 10, 2015

New research about the role of fats in the human diet, a look back at the weaknesses of older research and concerns about trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils have united to kindle a resurgence of interest in animal fats. Eric Gustafson, Chief Executive Officer of Coast Packing Company, a manufacturer of animal fat and shortenings, is cheering the change.

“I think that the tide is turning, and I think it’s great,” he said. “I think that people are starting to see the fact that animal fats are not really all that bad for you. The links between fats and cholesterol are starting to become more clear, at least that the links are not what we thought they were.”

He cites the 2014 release of Nina Teicholz’s book, “The Big Fat Surprise” as a catalyst for changing common American misconceptions about the role of animal fats in human nutrition, along with the Food and Drug Administration’s 2015 announcement that it would no longer recognize partially hydrogenated oils as “Generally Recognized as Safe.” Teicholz’s book points out weaknesses in the nutrition research that demonized saturated fats as the most important single cause of coronary artery disease deaths in the U.S. and led to a spate of dietary advice calling for rigorous limits on consumption of animal products, especially red meat and eggs, based on the unproven theory that consumption of saturated fats inevitably led to higher cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and ultimately to the buildup of plaques in coronary arteries and therefore to coronary artery disease.

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