We have been led to believe since way back in the 1970’s and 1980’s that fat is bad for us and that we should be consuming foods ‘low in fat’ or even ‘fat free’ and therefore banishing it from our diets. This has created a huge industry for so called ‘healthy’ or ‘diet’ foods, all claiming to give us the end result of weight loss and a healthier cardiovascular system.
Myth: Fat is bad for us.
Fact: Fat is essential for cell growth and tissue growth within the body eg. nerves need fat in their construction. Fat is essential for blood clotting and muscle movement. Fat enables the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals into the body and fat gives us energy.
Myth: ‘Low fat’ and ‘low calorie’ foods are more healthy than higher fat food.
Fact: Many commercially produced ‘low fat’ and ‘low calorie’ foods tend to contain very high levels of refined sugar, palm oil and a multitude of chemicals as a replacement taste-wise for the fat which has been stripped from the foods.
Myth: Some natural ‘fat rich’ foods such as avocados and prawns contain cholesterol so should be avoided.
Fact: Although these foods do contain cholesterol, the human actually absorbs very little cholesterol from other food sources, instead it MAKES bad cholesterol from a diet high in less healthy saturated fats or extremely unhealthy processed and trans fats. Foods such as prawns and avocados actually contain naturally occurring good fats like Omega 3 fatty acids which when eaten in a healthy diet can actually help reduce the bad LDL cholesterol levels.
Good Fats: these fats are found naturally in nuts and seeds, avocados, oily fish and oils such as olive oil and include healthy Omega 3 fats. These good fats are liquid at room temperature and not solid. Consuming good fats reduce the harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. A healthy diet should contain regular consumption because Omega 3 fatty acids may help prevent or even treat heart disease, reduce blood pressure and even help relieve arthritis.
Not As Good Fats: Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and include fats naturally occurring in red meats, whole milk, cheese and other dairy products. These fats are often an ingredient in many cakes, pastries and other commercial products. Although these foods do contain other healthy elements such as calcium in dairy food and B vitamins in red meat, they should still be consumed in moderation, as high levels of saturated fats again can be a major influence in increasing bad LDL Cholesterol levels which can cause prompt blockages in the arteries.
Really Bad Fats: The worse type of fats is Trans Fat/Hydrogenated Fat and is produced when healthy oils are turned into solid fats by hydrogenation process. These fats have no known health benefits and are sometimes used in fast foods, cakes, pastries and other commercial products. The consumption of these can increase inflammation in the body leading to heart disease, strokes, type 2 Diabetes and other chronic conditions.
In summary, ditch the processed low fat diet and health foods which are sugar and chemical laden. Instead eat a well-balanced diet containing natural unprocessed food including good fats for optimum health. Eat the not so good saturated fats in moderation and NEVER eat trans-fats and hydrogenated fats.
Mel Lay is an accredited Cambridge Weight Plan consultant who is also qualified to help and assist in safe weight loss.