If you’re feeling conflicted about what a healthy diet entails, you are not alone. Science itself seems confused about which types of foods are best for the body. Before you follow the typical dietary guidelines given by countless government sites and even doctors, you should consider some recent findings regarding studies we’ve trusted for years.
What Are the Current Guidelines?
The current dietary guidelines, which have been around for decades and are backed by the United States Department of Agriculture, claim that we need to reduce the consumption of salt in the foods we eat. They also advise a reduction of foods that are high in fat, especially animal fat, since these tend to have too much cholesterol.
However, the dietary guidelines that we are advised to follow have been around since the 1970s, so they are definitely not based on the most updated facts. Considering that the rate of obesity has doubled since then, it’s possible that the guidelines are not as healthy as we once thought.
How Could These Guidelines Be Wrong?
According to Pacific Standard, the dietary guidelines that many doctors give their patients today are largely based on the Seven Countries Study from the 1970s. In particular, this found that ingesting lots of saturated fat could lead to high cholesterol, which could then increase the chances of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions related to obesity.
However, there is evidence to suggest that researchers presiding over the study purposely chose countries they knew would support their hypothesis. This could explain why countries like France have low rates of heart disease, despite having plenty of saturated fat in the typical diet! Additionally, the Seven Countries Study and others that confirmed those findings were only based on observations of the people involved, which means there were no controls. Therefore, a wide range of variables could have led to the results. There is no telling which of the people in the study worked out regularly, smoked, drank alcohol, or simply ate too much food.
That’s why researchers today are finding that the consumption of saturated fat and sodium does not necessarily lead to high cholesterol, obesity, or the countless other issues that these substances have been blamed for since the 1970s.
What Does This Mean for Us?
Clearly, we don’t have all the answers yet, since so many major studies were apparently flawed. But one rule of thumb is to stay away from foods that were not around prior to the rate of obesity going up. In particular, some doctors today claim that eggs, meat, fish, dairy, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are all staples of a healthy diet that includes both fat and protein.
Furthermore, according to the Center for Advancing Health, some medical specialists point to the traditional Mediterranean diet as a good example of a heart-healthy plan that also happens to be high in saturated fats and sodium. So instead of blaming these substances for obesity and heart problems, some specialists suggest that we focus on cutting out the empty carbohydrates, excess sugars, and generally unnatural foods that were not as abundant prior to the obesity epidemic.