Still Thinking (and Reading) About the Health Quest

“I remember the day I stopped worrying about eating fat. It was long before I started poring over thousands of scientific studies and conducting hundreds of interviews to write this book. Like most Americans, I was following the low-fat advice set forth by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its food pyramid, and when the Mediterranean diet was introduced in the 1990s, I added olive oil and extra servings of fish while cutting back further on red meat. In following these guidelines, I was convinced that I was doing the best I could for my heart and my waistline, since official sources have been telling us for years that the optimal diet emphasizes lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and grains and that the healthiest fats come from vegetable oils. Avoiding the saturated fats found in animal foods, especially, seemed like the most obvious measure a person could take for good health.

“Then, around 2000, I moved to New York City and started writing a restaurant review column for a small paper. It didn’t have a budget to pay for meals, so I usually ate whatever the chef decided to send out to me. Suddenly I was eating gigantic meals with foods I that I would have never before allowed to pass my lips: paté, beef of every cut prepared in every imaginable way, cream sauces, cream soups, foie gras—all the foods I had avoided my entire life.

“Eating these rich, earthy dishes was a revelation. I ate with abandon. And yet, bizarrely, I found myself losing weight. In fact, I soon lost the ten pounds that had dogged me for years, and my doctor told me my cholesterol numbers were fine.

“… The more I probed, the greater was my realization that all our dietary recommendations about fat—the ingredient about which our health authorities have obsessed most during the past sixty years—appeared to be not just slightly offtrack but completely wrong. Almost nothing that we commonly believe today about fats generally and saturated fats in particular appears, upon close examination, to be accurate.” (Emphasis mine.)

— journalist Nina Teicholz, in The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet © 2014 Simon & Schuster

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