Fats: The Good, the Bad, and the In-Between Donald E. Pszczola | June 2012, Volume 66, No.6

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Another concern I have involves the word “moderate.” When consumers are encouraged to follow a moderate-fat diet (one that chooses good fats over bad), what does that mean exactly? Perhaps I’m nitpicking here but as soon as you start choosing good fats over bad, you’re not really recommending a moderate position. A moderate fat diet, to me, means making use of both saturated and unsaturated fats in some kind of balance. Consumption of foods that make use of oil blends (combining the properties of different kinds of fat including saturated) would be part of a moderate-fat diet. Furthermore, judging by the obesity challenges we’re currently faced with, consumers clearly have difficulty applying practices of moderation in any case, whether that involves reducing all fats in the diet or reducing only certain types.

On the other hand, you really can’t blame the consumer on some of the issues. For example, some chefs are exploring the possibility of using traditional fats such as lard or duck fat in moderation. (I love the “in moderation” part.) They are doing this because such ingredients are gaining in popularity as consumers seek more flavorful, authentic fats. Without seeming dense, what exactly is a more authentic fat? And as opposed to what? No wonder consumers can sometimes be confused. I know I am. And after all these years, you would think I would know better.

Well, anyway, all in all, I suppose there are some encouraging signs that consumers are viewing fats differently, but I still think there’s a long way to go, and if the industry can do anything to lessen confusion, it would be in everyone’s interests to do so. Remember, though, not too long ago the industry was advocating a wide range of carbohydrate-based fat alternatives. And today the view of “good fat vs bad fat” is frequently advocated—a position which is, in my opinion, just too simple. I think more attention needs to be paid to explaining how combinations of fats work and the value they provide in terms of functionality and nutritional value. I think that in the long run, such an approach is not only more honest but may help lessen the confusion of consumers. If you care to weigh in on consumer perceptions, let’s IngredienTalk.

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Donald E. Pszczola,
Senior Editor 

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