I wrote my last post about how to read health related research in the popular media knowing that it’s going to serve me well over the next months and years as the controversies keep coming.
This week, there’s been a stir about saturated fat
in the media. Yesterday my friend, Diana, asked me whether what we know about saturated fat has been turned on it’s head in the last few days. Since I hadn’t heard much about it, I did a Google search.
Sure enough, my entire first page of Google
(and half of the second) listed articles dating from last week touting everything from “now saturated fat is good for you” to “butter is back“. Following the advice I gave you last week, I took a look at the published research study the media has gotten excited about.
In the study the media is referring to, the conclusion is not “saturated fat is good for you”
it is the following : “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.” This is a completely different statement from the former.
There is one particular article in Science AAS publication called Scientists Fix Errors in Controversial Paper about Saturated Fats that you might be interested in reading regarding the flaws in the study.
And, none of the well-respected sources for information regarding heart disease (American Heart Association, Center for Disease Control, American Diabetes Association, etc) have changed their stance on saturated fats. Being national advocates for healthy heart and cardiovascular system, you can bet they will change their message when research supports doing so.
Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation (one of the groups who funded the study) said this in the Guardian on Tuesday: “There is a wealth of evidence showing that eating too much saturated fat raises our cholesterol levels, which we know increases our risk of having a heart attack or stroke. This new research doesn’t change that but clearly shows that there is more for us to find out and understand.”
(Addition February 22, 2015) Since it’s publication, the study has come under strong scrutiny by the scientific community. In fact, universities and institutions from around the world took the time to respond to the article and point out a variety of flaws within the two months after its publication date.
When reading the media’s coverage on one specific research study,
please remember that one study will never provide the complete answer to any scientific question or totally reverse our current knowledge on a subject. There needs to be many studies that point to the same conclusion in order to change the game.
When you read about one particular scientific study in the media, remember that the media needs to create a buzz. Watch the pendulum swing but don’t get caught up in it. Know that all of these small pieces of research are just small contributors to the bigger body of knowledge. When the tide changes you will know it.
And finally, you’ll do very well with a diet consisting of primarily fresh fruits and vegetables, secondarily whole grains and lean proteins, and finally small amounts of fat. Keep your intake of added sugar and other processed foods down, exercise regularly, and you’ll be good to go. Our health never boils down to one nutrient, but a combination of all that we eat and how we lead our lives.
By the Way:
If you’d like my help in changing your habits so you eat better and exercise more for the long haul, my Mind Body Blast class could be just what you’re looking for. Join my e-mail list, to get notified of the opening date.