It’s been over 40 years since the war on fat has begun. Go into a grocery store and you are guaranteed to run into “low fat!” and “zero trans fats!” plastered over at least half of the products available; this marketing craze extends even to labelling naturally fat free products, such as sugar.
Although some of this fat paranoia does hold merit, it is important to distinguish the difference between trans fats and saturated fats. While there is much scientific evidence that points to trans fats being bad to the bone (quite literally, since they inhibit a bone’s absorption of vitamin K, an essential vitamin for bone strength, among other things), recent studies have shown that the bad rap given to saturated fats may very well be misinformed.
For starters, the initial studies on the effects of saturated fat in the human diet gave little to no consideration to other possible factors such as the smoking habits, exercise levels, or the sugar consumption of the individual. In fact, current research suggests that sugar is a major contributor to the dietary health problems pinned on saturated fat, such as obesity and cardiovascular diseases. As an aside, these findings have resulted in much skepticism about the role sugar manufacturers played in this misdiagnosis, but that’s a conspiracy story for another day.
So let’s talk about benefits. We all know how important our unsaturated fats (such as avocados, olive oil, and sesame seed oil) are, as they have often been touted for their anti-inflammatory properties, lowering of LDL cholesterol, and increase of brain function. Similarly, some saturated fats (such as coconut oil and animal fats) have new research indicating that they boost your immune system, aid liver function, strengthen your bones, and much more.
Of course, too much is, well, too much. It’s common sense that if you eat your weight in bacon there will be some unwanted gains at your next weigh-in. Additionally, as with everything, not all fats are created equal. Eating a fresh-off-the-BBQ steak is a lot different than eating a hot dog that has who-knows-what shoved inside of it. Even bacon, as much as it is loved, does contain excessively high amounts of sugar, nitrates, sodium, and many other additives if you go for the generic store versions. So with this in mind, yes, you can bring back the bacon — but do be conscious about what else is packaged along with it.