For more than 40 years, organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) and others have recommended low-fat diets.
They were wrong.
The ripple effects of their recommendation are widely felt today. Food manufacturers replaced fat with refined carbohydrates, and people snacked on things like low-fat cookies, chips, and other sweetened products. Fat-free pasta and bread became staples.
As did obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease.
But it’s not just increased consumption of processed foods that were the problem. People also stopped eating healthful fatty foods like nuts, avocado, fish, olives, and more. These foods all contain unsaturated fats that can have big benefits for heart health.
These days, the AHA has changed its tune. It has abandoned the call for low-fat diets for heart health. Instead, it is promoting overall eating healthy patterns and diets.
What does an overall healthy eating pattern look like? It features plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, a little bit of meat and dairy, and minimal intake of processed foods.
It also contains healthy fats in the form of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and more.
Take a look at the Mediterranean Diet, for example. This diet encapsulates what the AHA is recommending. It is rather high in healthy fats, fruit, vegetables, and fish, and very low in processed foods. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is great for heart health.
There is data to show that eating healthy unsaturated fats may reverse cholesterol buildup in the arteries, thereby reducing the risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
A Mediterranean-style diet has shown it can have some major health benefits. It can help with weight loss (reverse obesity) and help regulate blood sugar, making it a useful eating style in the battle against type-2 diabetes. Both obesity and type-2 diabetes are closely linked to heart disease.
So, one of the healthiest diets on the planet features a good amount of fat. Does heart-healthy really mean low fat? I don’t think so.