Fat is back on the menu for people around the nation who follow federal recommendations for a healthy diet. The change comes as Republican lawmakers came out in opposition to dietary guidelines established by the Obama administration.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a series of recommendations released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These recommendations provide Americans with information about which foods should be consumed for healthy eating.
The advisory committee that helped to develop the recommendations announced their conclusions in February 2015. These included a proposal that the guidelines green-light the consumption of one egg a day. The group concluded that eating eggs in these quantities poses no risk of raising levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Revisions in the 2015 guidelines include warnings about saturated fats, although earlier cautions about other fats have now been removed from the guidelines. Red meats account for a large majority of the saturated fats consumed in the United States.
In previous reports, the federal government advised Americans to limit fat to between 20 and 35 percent of daily caloric intake. The 2015 guidelines advise people to pay more attention to the variety of fats they take in, as opposed to limiting total quantities. The report also removed the recommendation that Americans avoid fats in an effort to prevent obesity.
Good health requires a certain amount of both saturated and unsaturated fats. These are differentiated by the bonds between electrons within the fatty acids in molecules of fat. Unsaturated fats can lower concentrations of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, the bad cholesterol), while raising the healthy high-density version, HDLs. These good lipoproteins can be found in foods such as fish, onions, flax oil, olive oil, avocados and natural fibers.
"The complex lipid and lipoprotein effects of saturated fat are now recognized, including evidence for beneficial effects on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides and minimal effects on apolipoprotein B when compared with carbohydrate," the American Medical Association stated.
Spending bills created by the House and Senate call on legislators and regulators to focus on science, rather than politics when creating recommendations. These bills have become the subject of great partisan debate in the nation's capitol. Tom Cole, a Republican Representative from Oklahoma, and author of one of the bills, spoke out against actions of the Obama Administration, which he said "enormously expanded" the reach of the Federal government in dietary choices. Representative Robert Aderholt, the Republican author of the other bill, has also fought against requirements for food labels.
The first of these five-year reports came out in 1980, with the focus on fat centered on lowering total intake. The idea was that by reducing the total amount of fat in diets, saturated fats would also be reduced.
In addition to nutritional guidelines contained within the document, the federal agencies also recommended that Americans consume more plants in order to have less of an impact on the environment, as well as to promote general health.
Photo: Rhonda Fleming Hayes | Flickr