Traditional Wellness Wisdom

Deceptions in the food industry: low-fat foods

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lowfatcottagecheese

Nearly four years ago on my other web site, Agriculture Society, I started a series called Deceptions in the Food Industry where I discussed the fallacies of processed foods, and faulty claims made on labels of many foods you will find in the grocery store.

These articles were quite popular, so I’ve decided to revisit these topics, because they are so important in understanding why processed foods are harming our health.

In this article, I’ll explain why a majority of low-fat foods sold in the store lack the health benefits the label claims make, and can actually cause health issues.

Low-fat products are the darlings of the processed food world. They have been center stage in conventional health recommendations for decades. Doctors, health “experts”, personal trainers, and dietitians alike have touted the benefits of eating low-fat and low-calorie foods.

These experts repeatedly warn us about fat and cholesterol being harmful for our health, and claim that eating these foods will contribute to weight gain, heart disease, stoke, high blood pressure, and cancer.  But what we aren’t told is why fat is essential to health and how toxic many of these products really are.

Here are some facts you may not know about low-fat foods:

  • Many low-fat foods are highly processed and contain artificial ingredients which can lead to health problems including GMOs, additives, preservatives, rancid vegetable oils, soy-by-products, gluten, and others. Removing fat usually means sugar or artificial sweeteners, and other undesirable ingredients are added. Have you ever noticed ingredients such as modified food starch, potassium sorbate, sodium citrate, or propylene glycol monoester? Read the label of this low-fat product which includes them.  Here’s an organic sour cream which includes a stabilizer derived from several sources, and synthetic Vitamin A.
  • Even if the low-fat product comes from an organic source or animals on pasture, which would naturally be a rich source of critical nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K2, Omega 3s, CLA, enzymes and cofactors, these elements are virtually non-existent in low-fat foods as the fat has been removed. Fat contains those important nutrients. 
  • Many low-fat foods are pasteurized. Pasteurization denatures fragile proteins and nutrients, rendering them difficult or impossible for our bodies to assimilate. Real nutrients and their naturally-occurring counterparts are essential for digestion and all aspects of health.
  • Low-fat foods don’t aid in weight loss because they have been altered from their natural state. Remember those whole nutrients, co-factors, enzymes, and amino acids contained in full-fat foods? Those are necessary for metabolism and weight control. Your body won’t know what to do with these substances that don’t quite resemble food. Low-fat foods will contribute to weight and health issues much quicker than they’ll slim you down.
  • Some foods that don’t say low-fat on the front of the label reveal otherwise when you read the ingredients.  Good examples include dairy products such as milk, sour cream, and cheese. Check labels on dairy products in the grocery store and you’ll see this to be true. Check the information on these foods and notice the inclusion of fat-free, non-fat and other skim or low-fat milk.
  • Some of the so-called “heart healthy” foods on the market contain polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and others which are unstable when heated and are often already rancid on the shelf. Did you know that “75% of arterial plaque is made up of unsaturated fat, of which 50% is polyunsaturated“? According to Chris Kresser, only 25% is saturated! “The greater the concentration of polyunsaturated fat in the plaque, the more likely it is to rupture. Such ruptures, and the ensuing blood clots that form, are a primary cause of heart attacks.” Polyunsaturated vegetable oils are also high in Omega 6s which contribute to inflammation.

Instead of low-fat, non-fat, and fat-free foods, eat real foods that contain critical fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 for health:

  • Eat real, traditional fats like butter, lard & tallow from healthy animals on pasture, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, and fermented cod liver oil.
  • Choose dairy products that are preferably raw, and whole-fat like milk, cheese, cream, sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, and cream cheese from healthy cows on pasture without preservatives, additives, hormones, genetically-modified feed, or antibiotics.
  • Look for meats and poultry from grass-fed animals, and leave the fat on. Fat from healthy animals on pasture contains the correct ratios of Omega 6 to Omega 3s, enzymes and nutrients your body can recognize, absorb, and use for health. Organ meats, fat, bones, and skin are also recommended, as these contain even more nutrients necessary for health, and add flavor to the foods you prepare and eat.

Health benefits of fats and fat-soluble vitamins:

  • Foods with fat contain more nutrients than those without, particularly fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 which are necessary to absorb other nutrients in the foods you eat.
  • Are essential for brain health
  • Enhance our immune system performance
  • Support eyes and moistens mucous membranes and skin
  • Are critical to cell and skin health
  • Strengthen our digestive tract and protect against harmful microorganisms found there
  • Provide an easily absorbed source of energy for the body, which will keep you full longer and provide the staying power to keep you going
  • Are essential to nervous system, brain, and cardiovascular function
  • Vital to blood, pancreas, and bone-building and maintenance. Vitamin K deficiency has been linked to diabetes and other auto-immune disorders

Dr. Weston A. Price who studied traditional diets of people living all over the world discovered that all populations who ate animal fats and animal products containing fat and cholesterol had superior health and were largely free from disease and illness.

Recommended traditional animal fats via Tendergrass Farms and Amazon:

I highly recommend these products. These companies offer pasture-raised animal foods produced with the high standards in animal husbandry, welfare and farming practices which emphasize nutrient-density and sustainability.

Grassfed beef Poultry Pork Ghee & Other Lard/Tallow Products
Ribeye steak Whole chicken Pork chops Pure Indian Foods organic grassfed ghee
Chuck roast Chicken drumsticks Pork ribs Ancient Organics organic grassfed ghee
Rump roast Chicken thighs Pork bacon  Purity Farms organic grassfed ghee
NY strip steak Chicken livers Pork roast  Fatworks pastured beef tallow, GMO-free
Flat iron steak Chicken necks  great for broth! Pork fat  Fatworks pastured lard, GMO-free
Ground beef Chicken feet  great for broth! Pork bratwurst  Traditional fat combination pack, lard, tallow and grassfed ghee
Beef liver  Chicken wings  Pork franks  Proper Foods for Life, pastured pure leaf lard, GMO-free
Soup bones  great for broths, soups, stews! Chicken breast   Pork breakfast sausage  Bayan Botanicals organic grassfed ghee

 

Recommended reading via Amazon:

Know Your Fats by Mary G. Enig, PhD.

The Great Cholesterol Con:- The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It  by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick

More information on saturated fats and cholesterol:

The importance of dietary fats

Does dietary fat increase blood cholesterol? An informal review of observational studies  Whole Health Source, Stephan Guyenet

The definitive guide to saturated fat – Mark’s Daily Apple

 

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30 Comments

  1. Marjorie

    Great article! Totally agree!

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Thank you Marjorie!

      Reply
  2. Renee Kohley

    Raine thank you for all the work you have put into this. This is so very important – I’ll be sharing and pinning! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Thank you Renee! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Jessica @ConveyAwareness

    I avoid low-fat; however, the ONLY Stoneyfield organic yogurt I can get locally, is low-fat. So I rather choose low-fat organic than yogurt with other junk in it. Sometimes, you have to weigh all the information. I always pay attention to quality and source in all my food purchases. Great article.

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Hi Jessica – yes, sometimes there are compromises and it’s wonderful that there are companies like Stonyfield that provide clean, organic yogurt with no sugar or other additives.

      Have you tried making your own? I’ve found that it is a pretty easy thing to do, although I don’t always have time. When I don’t we buy from our health food store. Usually we buy Straus whole milk organic yogurt or we buy a locally-produced raw whole milk yogurt from grassfed cows, which is brand new since last year.

      Reply
  4. Rachel @ day2dayjoys

    Wow, this is so informative! I wish more organic companies didn’t sell low fat.

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Rachel – I also wish more organic companies offered full-fat choices, and that they’d just remove the low-fat foods altogether.

      Reply
  5. Tash

    This article is such a breath of fresh air! I have been telling family for years to stop eating and drinking so called “fat free” foods. They are always ALWAYS so much worse for your health, let alone actually make you gain weight. Eating wholesome fats is natural and healthful. I wish more people could understand that healthy fats are not the enemy they think they are!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Tash – it is definitely a challenge to convince folks that saturated fat is good for us! I have seen a lot of reports coming out which show that the studies proving the low-fat theory are inaccurate, so I really hope those continue and that more people pay attention!

      Reply
  6. Ariana {And Here We Are...}

    In the late 90’s I went through a low fat phase. I avoided all types of fat, really strictly. This resulted in incredibly dry skin (even in the tropics!) and the cessation of my menses. I know so many people try to restrict fat, in the mistaken belief that it will be good for them. What a huge relief that these delicious fats are healing foods for us! I now totally adore butter, beef fat, bacon fat, cheeses, cream, and all of these incredibly tasty and nourishing food sources. So glad you are spreading the word!

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Ariana – I also had really dry skin in the 90s and early 2000s, and I’m not sure that I was actually eating a lot of low-fat foods as I didn’t avoid fats for too many years, but I was definitely not eating enough traditional fats. Since I became more mindful of this, my skin is much less dry than it used to be, especially in the winter months. In my late 20s and early 30s, I was experiencing dry, cracked, bleeding knuckles in the winter time which was becoming progressively more acute each season, and no amount of lotion or moisturizer helped this problem. Fats saved my skin!

      Reply
  7. Megan Stevens

    Love the sources you provide for ordering!! Great post; thanks for helping to educate on this topic!!

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Thank you Megan!

      Reply
  8. linda spiker

    Great post! Pinning:)

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Thank you for stopping by Linda!

      Reply
  9. Emily @ Recipes to Nourish

    This is so important! Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post. I grew up thinking low fat and fat free was important. I’m so grateful that I know otherwise now and can nourish my family with healthy, good fats.

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Emily – thank you for your comments. I am also thankful that I now understand the importance of saturated fat for my health. My health is so improved since becoming aware of how essential it really is!

      Reply
  10. Andrea Fabry

    I was terrified of fat till we found Weston Price and GAPS. I can’t believe I went so many years without this crucial nutrient. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Thank you Andrea! Cheers to your finding out that fats are healthy and nutritious!

      Reply
  11. Anna

    I really hope that more and more people will convert from this low-fat nonsense to proper healthy nutritious food. I remember when I was younger my family and friends where buying low fat products and even now some of them don’t believe that fat is good for you (the healhy kind). I am trying to get my Mum to eat more healthy fat, so she is slowly converting 🙂

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Anna – best of luck converting your mother. That conversion can certainly be a process.

      I’ve talked to a number of folks who struggle to convince their parents that saturated fat is healthy for us to consume. Some of them are a harder sell than others. My parents were born in the 30s and grew up eating foods with real fat. However, they were also young adults during the time when packaged and processed foods were starting to become heavily marketed to the public (40s and 50s with the advent of radio and television). Although my parents aren’t necessarily against eating fat now, they also don’t discriminate between factory-farm foods and sustainable, and aren’t label readers by any definition, so they are eating products I used to consume but have now discontinued consuming. I’m pretty certain they won’t be changing their habits, but I am always thankful when others I know do! 🙂

      Reply
  12. Chloe @ How We Flourish

    Great article! Like most people raised in the 90’s, I grew up with fat phobia. Luckily, I overcame it fairly easily. Now we eat lots of butter and full fat dairy!

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Chloe – I think it’s interesting just how long of a span of time fat phobia has existed. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and I watched the landscape turn progressively more hostile toward fat as I grew up. In the 70s it wasn’t such a big deal, but in the 80s, it certainly became much more of a raised issue. I am thankful for full-fat foods, especially butter and other dairy.

      Reply
  13. Loriel

    What an amazing resource! Sharing for sure.

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Thank you Loriel!

      Reply
  14. Shar

    Thank you, Raine!
    Re-posting for my ‘friends’ to see. Very valuable and concise information! So happy to have you publishing all fresh and new! <3

    Reply
    1. Raine Saunders (Post author)

      Shar – you are most welcome! Thank you so much for caring and for sharing! I am also excited to be back blogging again! 🙂

      Reply
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