In the 1970s, evidence from human and animal studies began to pile up. It became clear that a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol was a major risk factor in cardiovascular disease. People were urged to eat less fat. Although the advice centered around saturated fats from high-fat animal foods, people, in general, began to avoid all fats.
This lead people choose reduced-fat or fat-free foods that are high in carbohydrates. These foods saw an increase in the consumption of two types of carbs in particular: refined starches and sugars. You can thank this shift for the current rise in type 2 diabetes.
The experts are now seeing that the efforts that lead them to recommend a diet lower in fat has gone too far the wrong direction.
“The mistake made in earlier dietary guidelines was an emphasis on low-fat without emphasizing the quality of carbohydrates, creating the impression that all fats are bad and all carbs are good,” Dr. Frank B. Hu of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said. “It’s really important to distinguish between healthy fats and bad fats, healthy carbs and bad carbs.”
As Dr. Hu explains, the saturated fats found in fatty animal foods, like meats and dairy products, raise cholesterol levels and are far from healthy but “but olive oil is important — it’s beneficial for cardiovascular health and body weight.” Olive oil, along with canola, avocado and nut oils, is monounsaturated and does not raise serum cholesterol or lead to fat clogging deposits in your blood vessels.
We need to stop fearing fats and stop believing that all complex carbohydrates are good.
Sugars are simple carbs while starches are complex. At the end of it all, they both get broken down into glucose. Sugars are digested rapidly, spiking blood glucose levels whereas carbs are digested much more slowly. Important exceptions include refined carbs like white bread and white rice. These starches have been processed and stripped of all dietary fiber which causes them to act more like a sugar in the body. They are digested rapidly, causing a blood sugar spike and a release of insulin. When consumed in quantities that exceed your body's current energy needs, refined carbs and sugars can result in insulin resistance and fatty liver disease.
Unfortunately, you can add the good ol' potato to that category. Potatoes have a high glycemic index which means they raise blood sugars rapidly. Potatoes, Dr. Hu explained, are made of long chains of glucose easily digested by enzymes in the mouth and stomach, and the fat in French fries slows the process only slightly.
The glycemic index first appeared in 1981 and has come to be accepted as a good way to tell the difference between the carbohydrates that are health promoting (or at least neutral) and those that have a negative impact. Closely related to this idea is the glycemic load. The glycemic index measures how quickly a food can raise blood sugar, while the glycemic load takes portion size into account. So, some foods with a high glycemic index, like watermelon for example, have a low glycemic load. Watermelon's glycemic load is low because the fruit is mostly made of water.
High glycemic foods make things a nightmare for people trying to lose weight. The amount of insulin released to lower blood glucose levels can be more than is actually needed and result in a return of hunger. A low glycemic food doesn't do this, in fact, ones that are also high in healthy fats like peanuts and avocado, can actually delay the return of hunger. But these foods should also be consumed in moderation as their calorie levels will quickly add up.
A chronic consumption of meals with a high glycemic index has been a leading cause of the type 2 diabetes epidemic we see in North America. We have seen an increase in carbohydrate consumption and a change in food processing technologies.
If we have any hope of saving our health, we need to change the way we think! Fat is not the enemy and not all carbs are created equal!
Does this news come as a surprise to you or are have you already found yourself making the necessary dietary shifts? For further help with these shifts, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan
. More than just a menu planner, this meal plan comes with a detailed nutrition guide to help you make sense of the science!
Source: The New York Times
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