If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably noticed your health-conscious friends have gone from admonishing you for eating fat to encouraging you to enjoy it. As Atkins, Mediterranean and Paleo have replaced low-fat, Pritikin-syle living, people who struggle with weight—like me—have become more comfortable (read: less ashamed) with eating butters, cheeses and oils. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up for debate, but a new study has shown that Americans’ eating habits are changing. Sales of butter and full-fat milk are on the rise, while sales of skim milk are dwindling.
Experts say this trend is a reflection of our culture’s move toward foods that are perceived as “natural” rather than processed, and also of the low-carb movement. But many people who seek the health benefits of so-called natural fats fail to acknowledge that most of the research showing that fat can be good for us refers not to saturated fats, like butter and cheese, but unsaturated ones, such as olive and fish oils.
The American Heart Association recommends that most dietary fats should be poly- or mono-unsaturated, while small portions of saturated fats are OK, too (preferably the grass-fed variety, which contains the same omega-3 oils as those found in fish). The only fats we should completely avoid are artery-trashing trans fats, which will be removed entirely from processed foods in the U.S. over the course of the next three years.
Do you and your family eat more fat now than you used to? Which would you rather limit, fats or sugars?