Fat has been given a bad rap. For the past twenty years the food industry has been rampantly advertising fat-free products and the media has popularized YouTube videos to help us “see which celebrities have gotten fat.” We’ve been given the impression that the way to become thin is by avoiding fat and we’ve therefore developed a fear of consuming it. Despite the growing availability of products that are low in fat, two of every three Americans today are overweight.
The truth about fat
The truth about fat is that everyone needs it and some even need more of it in their diet than others. What’s important to know is that there are different types of fats. There are processed fats which often cannot be utilized as nutrients by the body and are nothing more than empty calories and a toxin to the cells which can cause weight gain. Then there are healthy fats which the body needs in order to function properly. These fats aren’t found in the pre-packaged foods that contain a long list of ingredients but they are found abundantly in avocados, olive, coconut, sesame, and grapeseed oil, ghee, walnuts, flax, chia, sunflower, and sesame seeds, fish, almonds, and unprocessed cacao powder.
Fat is good!
If you don’t eat the good fats, you will do harm to your body because believe it or not, fat assists with many bodily functions.
1. Fat helps absorb vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K, called fat-soluble vitamins, cannot function without adequate daily fat intake. Vitamin A keeps your vision sharp, vitamin D assists in keeping your bones strong by boosting calcium absorption, vitamin E protects cells by neutralizing free radicals and vitamin K is important for normal blood clotting.
2. Fat is a backup resource for energy. It provides energy when your body needs it and helps keep your metabolism going between meals and at night. Without body fat, your body would draw energy from your muscles when it needs more of it.
3. Fat is critical to the cardiovascular system. It helps normalize circulation and heart function. In a randomized trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health1, relative to a healthy, higher-carbohydrate diet, a diet that replaced some carbohydrates with protein and fat did a better job of lowering blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
4. Fat keeps your brain healthy. Fats, particularly Omega-3 fatty acids, sustain brain function, mental health and cognitive skills. They are a part of myelin, a fatty material which wraps around our nerve cells and sends electrical messages across your brain.
5. Fat supports your joints from wear and tear. Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease symptoms of morning stiffness, tender or swollen joints, and joint pain. They can also help increase blood flow during exercise.
Science confirms time and time again that fats are necessary to help keep our cell membranes and therefore our entire body healthy. In a 20-year prospective study of 82,802 women, those women who ate diets that were high in vegetable sources of fat or protein and low in carbohydrates had a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease2 and about a 20 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes3, compared to women who ate high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets.
Which fats should YOU be eating?
It is important for all of us to understand the value of good fats and that one diet is not right for everyone. Although everyone needs some healthy fats to be well, some people need more than others. Finding the correct amount of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins for you, and balancing the essential nutrients with quality ingredients, are the keys to achieving optimal well-being. For instance, in the study referenced above, women who ate low-carbohydrate diets that were high in animal fats or proteins did not see the same benefits as those who consumed a diet high in vegetable sources of fat or protein2,3. Other studies show that various sources of animal fats and proteins do have benefits for heart disease and diabetes4,5. Choosing the correct fat source for you, in the right quantity for you, relative to the amount of protein and carbohydrates you are consuming, is critical.
While in the past fat was made out to be the culprit, now we know it should actually be consumed by everyone in the amounts that are right for their unique biology, environment, and lifestyle. So what do you say we acknowledge the importance of a tailored, personalized approach to our diet and nutrition and keep any one food or food group from being the culprit in the future?
If you’re in agreement and want to read more about what companies are doing around the world in spearheading the personalized health movement, check out http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/3017118.
1. Appel LJ, Sacks FM, Carey VJ, et al. Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids: results of the OmniHeart randomized trial. JAMA. 2005;294:2455-64.
2. Halton TL, Willett WC, Liu S, et al. Low-carbohydrate-diet score and the risk of coronary heart disease in women. N Engl J Med. 2006;355:1991-2002.
3. Halton TL, Liu S, Manson JE, Hu FB. Low-carbohydrate-diet score and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:339-46.
4. He K, Song Y, Daviglus ML, et al. Accumulated evidence on fish consumption and coronary heart disease mortality: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Circulation 2004;109:2705–11.
5. Pereira MA, Jacobs DR Jr, Van Horn L, Slattery ML, Kartashov AI, Ludwig DS. Dairy consumption, obesity and the insulin resistance syndrome in young adults: the CARDIA Study. JAMA 2002;287:2081–9.
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Now that isn’t to say that all people should be eating gluten instead. People with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity should, of course, avoid wheat and other items that contain gluten like barley, rye, triticale, and bulgur….