Is there a greater tragedy imaginable than that, in our endeavour consciously to shape our future in accordance with high ideals, we should in fact unwittingly produce the very opposite of what we have been striving for?
—F. A. Hayek
Most of us “know” that eating too much saturated fat (which includes red meat, dairy products, and eggs) raises our cholesterol levels and puts us at risk for heart disease. While we’re at it, we should greatly cut down on the salt too. These lessons are reinforced in our health classes and what the media has been telling us for decades. After all, this is the consensus reflected in the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and backed up by allegedly solid, objective science from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As extra reassurance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will use its regulatory authority to crack down on trans fats, the worst villain of them all.
Despite the appearance of a seemingly united front in the war on obesity, sharp dissent over sound nutrition policy is silently bubbling beneath the surface. It may be a sign of the times that fundamental challenges have come to the forefront and are becoming increasingly accepted. Growing numbers of scientists are expressing public skepticism toward the federal government’s official low-salt guidelines. Back in February of this year, the government’s top nutrition panel withdrew its nearly forty-year-old warning on restricting cholesterol intake and grudgingly concluded that “available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and [blood] cholesterol.”