On nutrition myths: the “low-fat” fad and others

By March 24, 2014 October 23rd, 2017 Other

Nutrition trends seem to come and go, as Michael Pollan and others have documented.  One myth that seems to persist is the idea that fat and red meat are bad for you.

This is unfortunate, because there is an emerging body of evidence that tells us that fat actually doesn’t make you fat, and red meat is nutritionally very important, especially pasture-raised grass-fed beef.  In fact many of the previous studies making this linkage had the common statistical error of confusing correlation with causation.  It is difficult to perform a completely randomized trial of human eating habits, since people tend to underreport eating items like chicken nuggets and ice cream and overreport eating veggies – nobody wants to admit that they woke up on  their couch with all the potato chips missing!  It is also difficult to control for other variables like exercise, lifestyle differences, etc. unless folks are locked in a room together for quite a long time.  Surprisingly though, many studies (or the media coverage of them) tend to understate the challenges associated with this type of research, and instead look for headline grabbing conclusions, however limited the evidence.

With respect to red meat, here’s what a recent Guardian article had to say: 

In line with the contention that foods containing animal fats are harmful, we have also been instructed to restrict our intake of red meat. But crucial facts have been lost in this simplistic red-hazed debate. The weak epidemiological evidence that appears to implicate red meat does not separate well-reared, unprocessed meat from the factory farmed, heavily processed equivalent that contains a cocktail of chemical additives, preservatives and so on. Meanwhile, no government authority has bothered to tell us that lamb, beef and game from free-range, grass-fed animals is a top source of conjugated linoleic acid, the micronutrient that reduces our risk of cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Checkout the full Guardian article here.

Thanks to our friend Diana Rodgers at Sustainable Dish for the scoop!