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posted: 7/23/2014 5:30 AM

Lean and lovin' it: Fat does not make us fat. Really.

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  • "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet" by Nina Teicholz

    "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet" by Nina Teicholz


It's all been a big fat, supersized lie.

We've all been bamboozled: me, you, everyone.

And what bothers me most is that I was one of the megaphones through which an ill-informed USDA and bad science trumpeted that saturated fats were unhealthy and fat makes us fat.

That's really embarrassing.

Let me recap ...

In 1990 I lost more than 100 pounds. After losing 75 of those pounds I discovered "The Choose to Lose Diet: A Food Lover's Guide to Permanent Weight Loss," a low-fat, weight-loss diet. The concept: reduce dietary fat and its nine calories per gram and lose weight.

Immediately, I squeezed almost all the fat out of my personal recipes. I banished egg yolks, high-fat dairy products and bacon. Everything high in fat headed out the back door while bags full of fat-free and low-fat food products rushed through my front door.

And for the first time in two decades my weight dropped below 200 pounds. Magic! Or, so it seemed.

Little did I know then that low-fat and fat-free products (remember SnackWell's Devil's Food Cookies?) were not really in my best interest.

Those products tasted good because food manufacturers traded sugars for fats. They made a boatload of bucks (and still do); I jeopardized my health.

I know this because of Nina Teicholz's impressively researched book, "The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet."

Teicholz writes, "... in 2014, a growing number of experts has begun to acknowledge the reality that making the low-fat diet the centerpiece of nutritional advice for six decades has very likely been a bad idea." In the remainder of her book Teicholz repeatedly smashes what we believed were heart-healthy dietary concepts.

Here's just a few of the "surprises" you'll find:

• Our fear of the saturated fats -- butter, eggs and meat -- has never (my emphasis) been based in solid science.

• Inconvenient study results were ignored. For example, studies showed the lower our cholesterol, the higher our cancer risk.

• In 1955, studies clearly showed that dietary cholesterol, for the vast majority of people, had either a trivial or no effect on cholesterol levels.

• Fat does not make us fat.

• The dietary dangers of red meat could possibly be ascribed to the vegetable oil in which it's fried.

• A $725 million study testing low-fat diets of 49,000 women in the 1990s resulted in no reduction in cancer rates, heart disease or strokes.

• Trans fats cause heart disease and sugars raise that and other risks as well. No surprise there, really.

And there's more, much more.

• The refined carbohydrates we thought were our dietary friends are now the enemy. The fats we thought were our enemy are now our BFFs.

I can only hope those authorities have gotten it right this time.

Try this recipe: This dressing isn't like the bottled stuff; it's better. I make it with my own homemade, organic olive oil mayonnaise, but you don't have to go that far. It's up to you if you want to make with low-fat mayo and buttermilk or full-fat versions of the stuff.

Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write him at

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