Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Things Doctors Have Reconsidered This Century


7
Value of Saturated Fats
Although calorie consumption from fat in America has fallen from 40 to 30 percent since the 1980s, obesity rates have soared. Doctors are rethinking the traditional advice to lower fat intake in order to lose weight. Samuel Kessler/E+/Thinkstock
Although calorie consumption from fat in America has fallen from 40 to 30 percent since the 1980s, obesity rates have soared. Doctors are rethinking the traditional advice to lower fat intake in order to lose weight. Samuel Kessler/E+/Thinkstock

Saturated fats were given the heave-ho in the 1970s, when a landmark study linked coronary heart disease with high levels of total cholesterol. People were advised to reduce their fat intake to 30 percent of total calories and limit saturated fats to a mere 10 percent[source: Willey]. Reduced-fat products flooded the market -- remember Snackwell cookies, anyone? -- and we gobbled them up.

In 2014, some doctors say that was possibly the worst medical advice given in the past 40 years [source: Willey]. People gorged on low-fat products, which typically had loads of extra sugar to compensate for the flavor lost when saturated fats were lessened or removed. Obesity became an enormous problem. (The obesity rate among U.S. adults has more than doubled since the 1960s, from 13.4 to 35.7 percent [source: National Institutes of Health].) And heart disease didn't diminish. Additional studies haven't shown any significant link between saturated fats and higher risks of cardiovascular disease [source: Willey].

The current advice is to eat your fruits and veggies, eat healthy fats like those found in avocados, nuts and seeds, and enjoy saturated fats -- like meat, cheese and eggs -- in moderation. It's the fats that keep you feeling fuller longer, and less prone to snacking. And when you do snack, pass on the sugary, highly-processed foods [source: Northrup].


More to Explore