This article looks at the experience that people around the world have had with fat and is a rebuttal to Gary Taubes' piece in The New York Times 'What if Fat Doesn't Make You Fat'. Taubes fails to distinguish between different fats in his lengthy article, essentially an apologia for the Atkins' diet. But only when we know the specific fats that people are eating can we draw consistent lessons about fat. The healthiest diets, as it turns out, the diets of the Inuit, Japanese, and Greeks, provide a rich amount of the essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, fats that are found in the photosynthetic membranes of plants, and in animals who eat those leafy greens. The least healthy diets, the diets associated with the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, are rich in saturated fats and/or omega-6 fatty acidsand not so rich in omega-3s. Omega-6 fatty acids originate in the seeds of grains and nuts and are just as essential for human health as omega-3s. But once technology made it possible to extract these fats from corn, soy beans, and sunflower seeds, omega-6s have flooded the food supply and the human body and are now suspected of causing a long laundry list of unwanted consequences, including obesity. The key to a healthy diet is not its cholesterol content, as this trip around the world makes clear, nor its animal fat content, but rather its polyunsaturate content: a balanced ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s.
- Regents of the University of California