The American diet industry has remained a booming business for decades, and most Americans are more concerned than ever about what they are putting in their bodies. Obesity has been blamed on everything from World War II to daytime television to the microwave, according to some reputable experts. The tricky part is that new research seems to often contradict previous research, and some current studies have been found to be unethical or even downright dishonest in their statements to the public. One such controversy is around the concept of fats in our diets.
The concern about fat consumption exploded like a bottle rocket in the year of our country’s bicentennial. In the wake of the sudden heart attack deaths of at least eight senators in just two decades, the Senate started to ask questions in a panic. The connection of diet to heart health was new and tenuous, and the United States Senate wanted to know more. There was some solid, but complex research at the time that found correlations between saturated fat and heart disease; so in 1976, the government pushed for a change in the American diet. Thus, the idea of replacing fat with carbohydrates was born: remember those food pyramids with the wide base for grains and cereals?
The fat-free mania had begun. This era spawned an almost frantic upsurge of fat-free products, from ice cream to cookies to cheese. As all food items are composed of three essential elements—fat, carbohydrates, and protein—eliminating one naturally resulted in the increase of the others. The mantra became lean meats and grains as well as the exclusion of fats. And it was backed by some believable science.
But something else happened in the early to mid-80s. We got fatter. And we got diabetes. And people were still dying of heart attacks at an alarming rate. Obesity rates were at 12-14% in the mid-70s and skyrocketed to 22% by the late-80s. Enter the low-carbohydrate diet, spurred by the release of Dr. Robert Atkins’ trendy but highly controversial book about low-carb living.
By the late 90s, consumers were confused, and understandably so. An apparent unintended side effect of the initial research in the 1970s was that food producers began to replace fat with sugary ingredients. The scientists of the 70s were pushing healthy whole grains and not processed ones, but no one was listening carefully. And the fat research was complicated, as it broke down the types of fats and their benefits and risks. The public was unable to digest it all, so food manufacturers believed it best to simplify and go with the notion that all fats are bad, and all grains are good.
Today’s research is still mixed, but we have seen a gradual improvement in understanding that not all fats are the same, just as not all grains are equal. It’s becoming clear that there is a difference between high quality fats, like those found in fatty fish, nuts, sunflower seeds, omega-3 oils, mayonnaise, and avocados, and those found in lower quality fats, like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, butter, and beef fats.
Sunflower seeds are without a doubt a member of the healthy fat group. They contain high levels of beneficial polyunsaturated fats along with a generous level of other vitamins and minerals. For example, they provide 82% of the required daily vitamin E requirement, offering anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits. Their 34% of selenium provides detoxification alongside cancer protection. And with one of the highest levels of phytosterols (400 mg per 100 g) they are believed to actually lower cholesterol levels, increase immune responses, and reduce certain cancer risks. Most importantly, however, sunflowers just taste good—eaten by the handful, sprinkled in a salad, or spread on a piece of whole wheat toast.
SunButter is proud to offer a product that is low in allergens, gluten-free, and safe for nut allergy sufferers. Their commitment to safety and public health has a long history, and in addition to providing a great alternative to other snacks unsuitable for those with allergies, SunButter’s all-natural sunflower butter also contains all the benefits of healthy fats. To learn more about our company and products, visit SunButter online today.