What Does Harvard Say About Fat?

Want to learn more about fats from a trusted source? While I believe there are some red flags about their conclusions, I still like this post from Harvard. My favorite part is where I learned that the red meat to colon cancer risk means limiting red meat consumption to one and a half pounds per week. No problem. I love beef and lamb, but it has to fit into my rotation of seafood, plants, eggs, and pork.

Where do I disagree?

[Gulp – disagreeing with Harvard is tough]

  • Try to eliminate trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils. Check food labels for trans fats; avoid fried fast foods.

OK, TOTALLY AGREE here. Trans fats are strongly linked with depression.

  • Limit your intake of saturated fats by cutting back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish whenever possible, and switching from whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods to lower fat versions.

Low fat dairy is a processed food and the US dairy supply is not grass-fed, so it has much less CLA. I know there is a lot of anti-dairy messaging and a lot of lactose intolerance out there, but I’m still partial to full-fat dairy. All this messaging “eat less saturated fat” hasn’t helped people be healthier or happier.

  • In place of butter, use liquid vegetable oils rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in cooking and at the table.

Whoa, there. Not all polyunsaturated fats are created equal. Vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fats, which have been shown to decrease brain health. People are so confused by this message, evidenced in the abundance of whipped vegetable oil spreads (i.e., margarine) full of artificial nastiness. Back off my butter. Harvard. In my kitchen, I use olive oil, butter, and lard, and I don’t add much of these to food.

  • Eat one or more good sources of omega-3 fats every day—fish, walnuts, canola or soybean oil, ground flax seeds or flaxseed oil.

When did soybean oil become a good source of Omega-3s?!
Give the comprehensive guide a read. Despite some of my qualms above, it’s a very informative and helpful report.

Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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