Food is big business globally. Into the multiple trillions kind of big. Food is also something every human needs and can’t do without for very long, so it’s not surprising that corporate marketing budgets can be obscene and competition for consumer spend, intense, and often, dirty.
One of the dirtiest marketing campaigns in our recent history, that continues to wreak havoc on people’s health, surrounds the myths, lies, fallacies and omissions about dietary fats. This includes the fats we eat in our everyday diets like butter, cheese, cooking oils, nuts, avocados and meats.
Here are just a few you’ll have seen a lot in public messaging and the media. They all have one thing in common – they’re flat out wrong! But that doesn’t mean that they haven’t become deeply insinuated into the fabric of most people’s nutrition knowledge.
- Eating fats makes you fat!
- Fats cause heart disease because saturated fats are responsible for the build-up of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis) – the lipid hypothesis
- Dietary cholesterol raises cholesterol levels in the body (that’s why eggs keep getting a bad rap, not just in the media, but in the science too: here and here)
- Fats from butter, lard, meat and eggs are ‘bad’ fats
- The impression that all dietary fats behave the same because they’re loaded with calories; 9 calories (kcal) per gram, against 4 for both carbs and protein
- A low-fat diet is best for losing weight, as well as heart health
- Margarine is better than butter for heart health
- Yellow, refined, seed oils (e.g. corn, canola, rapeseed) are the healthier choice for cooking than animal-derived fats like butter and lard.