fat vs. sugar: the battle rages on
The battle lines are drawnThe conflict began in the 1960s—as revealed by Cristin E. Kearns, DDS, MBA, in JAMA Internal Medicine (Sept. 12, 2016)—when Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) launched a campaign to downplay the link between sugar and heart disease by blaming fat instead.Genna Reed, a science and policy analyst at Union of Concerned Scientists, writes that the sugar industry wanted to increase sugar consumption by “funding science that would urge Americans to decrease calories from saturated fats and hopefully replace them with sugar.”The wake-up callThe JAMA study jolted The Sugar Association (formerly SAF) into damage-control mode. Its online statement dismisses responsibility for what their predecessor, SAF, had done decades ago and questions the study’s reframing of past actions “to conveniently align with the currently trending anti-sugar narrative.” It also claims research shows sugar doesn’t play “a unique role in heart disease.”Scientists and vested interests aside, consider the facts.“The Sugar Myth”: Sugar is bad and should be dropped from our diet.The facts: This crystalline carbohydrate is our body’s primary energy source, available as “natural sugar” in fruits and vegetables and “added sugar” (processed).
- Processed sugar: “Sugar: The Sweet Poison” states processed sugar constitutes about 25% to 35% of the western diet, affecting blood-sugar levels, metabolism, magnesium (deficiency’s linked to hypertension, heart attacks, strokes) and a host of diseases.
- Calories: We’re drenched in added sugar! (A soft drink may contain 7 tsps sugar per can.) World Health Organization has reduced its recommended daily calories from sugars from 10% down to 5% to prevent weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Artificial sweeteners: Eran Elinav of the Department of Immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel found sweeteners increase weight gain and the risk of metabolic disorders, “enhancing the exact epidemic that [sweeteners] were intended to fight”!
- Unsaturated fats are the healthy mono-unsaturated fats (olive and canola oils) and polyunsaturated fats (safflower, corn, and soy oils).
- Saturated fats found in animal products (milk, cheese, fatty meats) and some vegetable oils (coconut, palm) can raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, meaning greater risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Trans fats are unhealthy, created by hardening vegetable oil (butter, margarine) in a “hydrogenation” process used to keep foods fresh.
- Omega-3 fats (fish oils, spinach, walnuts) are beneficial for physical and emotional health.