My recent column titled “Fat: Is it Waste or is it Taste?” became a stirring reflection of the medical profession. Doctors responded in droves to the July edition of the Knightro Report in the “Farm and Livestock Directory”, where the medical profession was challenged to accept the fact that fat was not as much of a health risk as it is a significant contributor to the enhancement of taste.
Physicians have kept us so confused about the role of fat in our nutritional diet, that we (the consumer) have run scared, to the detriment of the meat industry. Judging from the sometimes conflicting reports recently presented at a scientific medical conference, experts in the field appear to have a difficult time sorting out which fats and oils and how much of them are likely to be most beneficial to health, at the same time acceptable to consumers and food producers organized the conference.
Research into the ‘fat issue’ is unlikely to come to definitive conclusions on all fronts any time soon. However, since humans need to eat to live, and since fat is part of a healthy diet, you would be wise to follow the advice provided by some of the world’s leading experts on the subject.
‘They’ admit that fat adds flavor to food promotes satiation and is the carrier of essential vitamins.
A quote from Dr. Frank Sacks, a cardiac researcher from the Harvard School of Public Health reads as follows: “After looking at the whole picture, it makes sense to follow a diet moderate in fat that derives between 30% and 35% of its calories from fat, but is low in saturated fat and contains a mixture of natural liquid vegetable oils and fish oil from foods.”
There is no ‘perfect’ fat or ‘oil’, so why are we so quick to pass judgment upon the meat industry before weighing all of the facts?
There is no perfection within the realm of life, so does it not behoove each of us to evaluate before jumping to conclusions that could be harmful to our well being?
I think the positives far outweigh the negatives when making decisions regarding red meat. The choices have never been better or healthier than they are today. That seems to be the conclusion of Dr. Sacks, as he goes on to say, “For almost any fat, there will be something not good about it.”
Although some fats – for example, fish oil, and pure vegetable oils – are better for your heart than others (for example, dairy fat, meat fat, and hydrogenated vegetable oils), it is not possible to say which of the oils is best.
It was further concluded at this conference that there is not a hard and fast rule about the amount of fat appropriate in a healthful diet. Examining, for example, at heart-healthy diets in various parts of the world, as well as those tested in clinical studies, there is a wide range of fat to be found in nutritious foods. In these studies the calories derived from fat range from 10% all the way up to 40%.
K. Dun Gifford goes on to say, “No matter what anyone thinks, one size does not fit all.” Mr. Gifford is founder and president of Oldways, a nonprofit organization that identifies and promotes healthful diets from different countries. He believes that we are driven to find a common denominator, to simplify, but that’s a dangerous thing to do in a culturally diverse society such as ours.
The medical profession appears to now recommend a dietary pattern approach that considers foods in the context of the whole diet, not insolation, since the biological effects of the pattern may differ from the individual results of component foods.
The Mediterranean diet, for example, is associated with low rates of heart disease and several common cancers. This diet contains very little meat but is loaded with other health-promoting ingredients, including plentiful vegetables, fruits, dried beans, and peas. This can be substantiated within different ethnic groups such as Asian and domestic alike, so does this not beg the question of why the medical profession has been so destructive to the meat industry.
It was refreshing to hear this statement from Dr. Sacks when he proclaimed, “Made some mistakes with the low-fat message.” He explained that it led some people to adopt an inadequate dietary pattern, a diet loaded with calories from refined carbohydrates like white bread, simple carbs like sugar and a slew of convenience foods, but with little and no increase in fruits, vegetables or whole grains.
The result has been poor nutrition, widespread weight gain, a precipitous rise in diabetes and little or no benefit to the health of the heart or any other organ.
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING IS NEVER A GOOD THING!
So, I’m not advocating a steady diet of only animal fat (cuts of prime characteristics), as most Americans have not achieved a healthy balance of nutritional consumption. As delicious as a well-marbled cut of meat may taste, it still should not contribute more than about 10 percent of your daily intake of calories.
Saturated fats, along with trans-fats found when vegetable oils are hydrogenated, raise blood levels of cholesterol and are strongly linked to high rates of heart disease. The average intake of saturates is now at or about 12 or 13%, and some people are consuming more than 15% percent of their calories as saturated fat.
All fats and oils are mixtures of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Within each of these categories, there are many different fatty acids, each of which has its pattern of activity in the body.
For example, one kind of saturated fatty acid — stearic acid found in meats and chocolate does not raise harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, some of the saturated fat in meat is palmitic. This does raise LDL cholesterol and accounts for about two-thirds of the saturated fat in the American diet.
However, meat is not the only culprit. Another saturated fatty acid, myristic acid – found in dairy fat, raises LDL cholesterol even more than palmitic, which is a good reason for choosing only nonfat or low-fat dairy products.
Now let’s look at the more healthful fats, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils found in plants and fish. The American Heart Association suggests that up to 15% of calories can come from monounsaturated, prominent in olive and canola oils, avocados and many nuts.
Monounsaturated make up an average of 10% of calories, with about two-thirds of them coming from animal fat.
Monounsaturated fatty acids lower harmfu1 LDL cholesterol, while having no adverse effect on heart-protective HDL cholesterol. It acts like arterial ‘Drano,’ helping to keep blood vessels clear of fatty deposits.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, prominent in corn and soybeans (the leading staple in most livestock finishing rations) lower blood cholesterol even more than monounsaturated, but they do so by lowering the LDL’s and to an extent the I-ID’s. The heart association suggests that polyunsaturates make up no more than 10% of calories, a level above which no population naturally consumes. In studies of animals and tens of thousands of people, diets that favor polyunsaturates lower the rate of heart attacks.
While meat may have stiff competition from other food categories, there is no evidence that it is harmful when eaten in moderation. Moreover, there is indeed no evidence that we have to eat meat that is tasteless, as the result of no fat/marbling.
We’ve advanced a long way since the days of the buffalo, deer, and long-horns. Also, yet, we still have those that want to regress to those days by attempting to finish cattle with little or no grain.
Admittedly there are foods such as fish that have the prominent polyunsaturate omega three fatty acids that have been linked to the prevention of heart disease. However, does this mean that we should eat only fish or dwell on the monotonous and boredom of a tunnel vision health focus?
I’m all for good health, but not at the expense of missing the adventure of acquiring good taste. Food can be good for you while tasting good at the same time. So no product on the face of this earth can satisfy and contribute to your well being like that of high grading, well-marbled piece of red meat.
I’ve probably shared with you more than you wanted to know, but it was great to hear from so many doctors that were willing to validate the nutritional value of well-marbled red meat.
They effectively answered this question: Fat contributes more to taste than it does to waste.