It's widely believed that as sausage is unhealthy due to being high in saturated fats. Consequently, that low fat sausages are the healthier option simply because they're lower in the bad fats. We're told this by the government, NHS, food manufacturers, dieticians, scientists and the media. As a result the conventional wisdom leads us to choose low-fat options as the norm - regardless of the food type.
In general, we all regard FAT, along with sugar as having full responsibility for the obesity epidemic and general weight gain - I think most would agree. Though many sausages contain a lot of sugar as well as fat, let's focus here on fat as the element common to pretty much all sausages.
Saturated fats are undeniably high in energy or calorific value during digestion, this is what led to the Calories In Calories Out or the Gluttony and Sloth hypothesis, this simplistic thinking was what most of us have ever known. The thinking was nice and simple, easy to understand and made perfect sense to the movers, shakers and decision-makers. It was an easy to follow rule, for sure. The following excerpt is the present explanation given on the NHS website:
If you consume high amounts of energy, particularly fat and sugars, but do not burn off the energy through exercise and physical activity, much of the surplus energy will be stored by the body as fat.
It's a simple message that could also be communicated easily, the NHS. Though, the human body is a complex system - we know! Could it really be, this simple?
Sadly, this way of thinking is based on the old but erroneous conclusion that gluttony and sloth are the cause of things like obesity, heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, etc. Having become so deeply ingrained, it's now the norm to think of saturated fats as bad and polyunsaturated fats as good – that consuming a high-fat diet makes us fat.
Growing up in the '70s, I clearly recall the shift. We were strongly persuaded to change to margarine, We were advised to stop eating butter, to use sunflower oil instead of animal fats. Drink skimmed or semi-skimmed milk and never the full-fat version (silver tops as they were then - blue today). In Britain and America, fat had been declared public enemy #1, more bad news for our British Sausages.
Conventional Thinking: Low Fat
The perception we hold of fat being bad was founded on a hypothesis of the now infamous Ancel Keys and his much-disputed Seven Countries Study. For decades successive governments have consistently adopted the findings of the Seven Countries Study and its oversimplified principles of gluttony & sloth. This though was to become the catalyst for the wholesale removal of fats from our foods.
However, it didn't stop there, as food manufacturers discovered that this changed their products significantly. The flavour had gone, they didn't taste of anything! To counter this, sugar and its variants were added on mass.
Though fats perform some very important roles, other than providing essential macro-nutrients, they're also the carrier or transporter of flavour to the taste buds. Take the fat out and you're left with flavorless bland food - including, low fat sausages!
Sadly, the practice remains commonplace as publicised by the NHS in its Eatwell Guide.
Medical science now knows Key’s depiction of the Seven Countries Study to be fundamentally flawed and has no basis in fact. The data he used was skewed - maybe even manipulated.
Despite this, Public Health England remains steadfastly behind the Eatwell Guide. Why? We can only wonder!
Perhaps we'd be better off taking note from the author of Pure, White and Deadly – the very credible Professor John Yudkin, or closer to home - Break The Crave by Bridgette Hamilton, or Healthy Eating: The Big Mistake by Professor Vernor Wheelock.
High levels of saturated fat are fundamental to our good health, after all, we're hunter-gatherers, omnivores - not herbivores. Animal fats will likely always remain the primary element of the human diet for many generations to come.
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