Butter, bacon, cheese: Unmasking the latest health food imposters

July 2, 2014 

Saturated fat's sizzling on dinner tables across North America thanks to bacon mania, record-breaking cheese sales and a recent New York Times op-ed titled "Butter Is Back" (it went viral). But we think you should think twice before slathering butter on your morning toast, reaching for a bacon-topped cupcake or stacking Swiss cheese on your sandwich.

There's a lot of questionable science being touted as fact when it comes to advocating these trendy fat bombs. Don't believe Internet falsehoods like "butter is a health food" or "bacon is good for you." And what about the recent, headline-grabbing study that asserts saturated fat is not harmful? It was flawed.

Researchers from the U.K.'s University of Cambridge reviewed 77 studies involving 643,226 people and found no connection between saturated fat and heart health. Our response: Focusing just on the effect of saturated fat in a person's diet is misleading.

There's plenty of evidence that a diet that slashes saturated and trans fats, added sugars and syrups and grains that are NOT 100 percent whole and includes plenty of produce, whole grains and lean protein is way better for your heart and your brain. It also can prevent cancer, impotence and wrinkles, and is better for your waistline than any other nutritional regimen.

In fact, one study by Spanish researchers had us cheering. They found a diet based around foods such as avocados, olive and canola oils, nuts and fish, containing plenty of good fats (the odd omegas and poly- and monounsaturated) and not much saturated fat slashed heart attack and stroke risk by 30 percent.

But even so, the butter-bacon-cheese craze is getting crazier.

Butter consumption -- at 5.6 pounds per person per year -- is at a 40-year high. Bacon's gone wild, with sales at an all-time high of $4 billion, thanks in part to the popularity of oddities like bacon-topped sundaes, bacon-themed restaurants, even bacon-flavored vodka. (It is not just the saturated fat, but the carnitine in the bacon that changes your gut bacteria, creates inflammation and inhibits your ability to stop cancer and brain decay.) U.S. cheese consumption is up from 11 pounds per person in 1970 to 33 1/2 pounds in 2012. (The amino acids in cheese add to inflammation, decay in orgasm quality, impotence, wrinkles and brain dysfunction.)

Now a little sat fat (4 grams at most) is OK once in a while, but big portions and a regular habit are risky. Butter has 7 grams of sat fat per tablespoon; bacon's got 1 g per slice (along with boatloads of sodium and preservatives), and cheese packs about 5 g per slice.

A better idea?

Steer clear of bacon and other processed meats. Just one serving a day raises your odds for fatal cancers by 20 percent, heart disease by 42 percent, and diabetes by 19 percent. And like cheese, they're linked to wrinkles, brain rot, impotence and decay in orgasm quality. Chalk up all this trouble-making to the amino acids and blood-pressure-raising sodium in these meats, along with nitrate preservatives that mess with your body's ability to produce and respond to insulin, the hormone that tells cells to absorb blood sugar.

Don't trade in saturated fats for food felons! Remember the low-fat diet craze that had people munching fat-free foods loaded with sugars, syrups and refined grains? Today, we know that these bad guys also increase levels of heart-threatening triglycerides (another blood fat), torpedo your good HDL cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and many forms of cancer.

When you replace saturated fats with good fats like the DHA-omega3's, omega-7's, and healthier proteins in grilled salmon (instead of a burger), walnuts on your salad (instead of cheese) and a handful of almonds (instead of chips and dip), you'll lower your lousy LDL cholesterol level and protect heart-healthy HDL cholesterol. That means sharper mental powers, better looking hair and skin, a younger RealAge and more zip in your love life.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, is host of "The Dr. Oz Show" and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.

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