Eat All the Fried Chicken You Want!
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The Fiscal Times
March 19, 2014

Fat is bad, right? Monounsaturated fat? OK to eat. Polyunsaturated fat? Still OK. Omega-3 fatty acids? Good. Trans fat? Evil. Saturated fat? The devil incarnate. Wait, scratch that! 

Saturated fat, the stuff that comes from red meat, poultry, yummy cheese and other dairy products is supposed to raise your cholesterol, clog your arteries, increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and give you a heart attack.

That was before a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that saturated fat has been, well, slandered, libeled and maligned by zealots who want everyone to stop eating cheeseburgers. NPR analyzed the exhaustive study this way: 

“When researchers have tracked people's saturated fat intake over time and then followed up to see whether higher intake increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, they haven't found a clear, consistent link.

In fact, the new study finds "null associations" (to quote the authors) between total saturated fat intake and coronary risk. And a prior analysis that included more than 300,000 participants came to a similar conclusion.”

It’s not that LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad cholesterol” found in saturated fats, is suddenly good for you. Just that the connection between saturated fat and cholesterol is more complicated. For example, those meats and cheeses can also increase HDL cholesterol, known as the “good” kind. So a blanket declaration that saturated fat is evil may not be appropriate.

Don’t run out to Mickey D’s or KFC just yet. The bun, the soda, the fries — all may be even more harmful because of the sugar and carbohydrates. Also, other studies have found that eating lots of processed meats may cause an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.

Finally, you don’t have a green light to overeat — so don’t go gorging on fried chicken. Eating fat is not an excuse for being fat.

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Editor in Chief Jackie Leo, former EIC of Reader’s Digest, Consumer Reports, and Editorial Director of ABC News’ Good Morning America, is an award-winning journalist and author. The Fiscal Times is her 4th start-up venture.