Q&A with journalist Nina Teicholz
Alexis Garcia reports: “Government made a big mistake with the dietary guidelines,” says Nina Teicholz, author of New York Times bestseller The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. “Given the track record that they have so far, you can really make a plausible argument that they’ve done more harm than good.”
Consumption of meat, butter, eggs, and cheese were once encouraged as part of a healthy diet. Then in the 1950s, a Minnesota doctor named Ancel Keys put forth his diet-heart hypothesis, claiming that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks.
Keys produced landmark studies of the relationship between diet and heart disease that transformed nutrition science. He became a powerful figure in the science community. Contemporaries who publicly questioned the validity of his findings risked losing their research funding or becoming pariahs. When the U.S. adopted dietary guidelines in 1980, Keys’ recommendations became enshrined in national food policy.
“We have made our policy based upon this weak kind of science called epidemiology which shows association, but not causation,” Teicholz explains. “We have the situation where we just cannot reverse out of these policies that were originally based on really weak science.” Read the rest of this entry »
Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more
Roberto A. Ferdman reports: When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising.
“I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer — nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”
— Tom Brenna, a member of the committee and a nutritionist at Cornell University
Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.
“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits. Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”
— Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University
The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
“We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”
“The decision, which broke the committee’s more than 40 years of silence on coffee, was driven by heightened interest in the caffeinated beverage as well as a growing anxiety about potential health risks associated with it.”
That’s great news if you’re already drinking between three and five cups each day, which Nelson and the rest of the panel consider a “moderate” level of consumption. But you know what? You probably aren’t, because people in this country actually tend to consume a lot less than that.
“It remains to be seen whether the Department of Health and Human Services or the Agriculture Department will take the committee’s recommendations for coffee intake to heart and include them in the official dietary guidelines update…”
On average, Americans only drink about one cup of coffee per day, according to data collected by the United States Department of Agriculture. Even when Americans drank the most coffee they ever have, back in 1946, they still only drank two cups a day on average. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1977, the year before I was born, a Senate committee led by George McGovern published its landmark “Dietary Goals for the United States,” urging Americans to eat less high-fat red meat, eggs and dairy and replace them with more calories from fruits, vegetables and especially carbohydrates.
By 1980 that wisdom was codified. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its first dietary guidelines, and one of the primary directives was to avoid cholesterol and fat…(read more)
This is a pet issue of mine. The obsession with reduced-fats foods has been like watching a whole nation go into battle facing the wrong way. Do you have friends that order non-fat lattes, obsess about calories, and shrink in horror at the sight of a juicy T-bone steak, real butter, or cream? Send them this article.
Melissa Healy reports: The British Medical Journal has issued a clarion call to all who want to ward off heart disease: Forget the statins and bring back the bacon (or at least the full-fat yogurt). Saturated fat is not the widow-maker it’s been made out to be, writes British cardiologist Aseem Malhotra in a stinging “Observations” column in the BMJ: The more likely culprits are empty carbs and added sugar.
Virtually all the truths about preventing heart attacks that physicians and patients have held dear for more than a generation are wrong and need to be abandoned, Malhotra writes. He musters a passel of recent research that suggests that the “obsession” with lowering a patients’ total cholesterol with statins, and a public health message that has made all sources of saturated fat verboten to the health-conscious, have failed to reduce heart disease. Read the rest of this entry »