A search for the term "fat-free" in the grocery section on Amazon.com brings up 3,386 products; "low-fat" yields 3,597. That's a vast array of food products in which no- or low-fat content is touted as a virtue. Many of them compensate for the fat's absence with extra sugar, corn syrup or other added sweeteners.
But the fact is, there appears to be very little hard evidence that saturated fat – long reviled as the worst of the fats for heart health – really does raise heart disease risk. A review of studies supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada concluded that there was "insufficient evidence of association" between saturated fat intake and risk of heart disease. Instead, it singled out foods with a high glycemic load - that is, sugar- and processed-carbohydrate-laden foods - in raising cardiovascular disease risk.
Government and industry have used shaky science to demonize natural fats and promote fat-free dairy products, processed grains and sweeteners. The fact is that natural fats and fat sources such as extra-virgin olive oil, butter, oily cold-water fish and even an occasional grass-fed, grass-finished steak are all good for you if eaten moderately as part of a low-glycemic-load diet. They supply essential fatty acids and a feeling of fullness, while helping to keep blood sugar levels, insulin and whole-body inflammation levels low and steady. No one's health is improved by swapping out natural saturated or monounsaturated fats for skim milk, sugars or processed grains.