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Why (the right) Fat in Your Diet is Your Friend

by | Jan 25, 2018 | Food & Nutrition, Uncategorized

Fat in our diet has gotten a bad reputation but is now known to be a key to long term health

                                                                                                                                                                                                           photo courtesy of brenda-godinez

Fat is not very lucky as a word: we use it to refer to the unwanted bulge around our waistlines as well as for an ingredient that amplifies flavor and makes food taste great.

Now scientists are realising that certain fats in the diet are not only healthy but can contribute to weight loss and protect against certain illnesses. The fact that the same word is used for something you dont want as well as for something that has healthful benefits is unfortunate and confusing.

In 1980 the U.S. Dietary Guidelines encouraged consumers to reduce food that had fat and cholesterol among its ingredients and to increase carbohydrates.1 Low-fat foods and low-fat diets were created by the food industry as a response to the report. When consumers complained about the taste of these new products, the food industry added sugar to them to compensate (which went against the 1980 Guidelines to reduce sugar!).

Scientists, looking back over the past nearly 40 years noticed that when lowering fat was emphasized, the rise in obesity ensued. “Low-fat” diet and “low-fat” food did not ryhme with “lose weight.” For most people it actually caused weight gain because of the replacement of fat in their diets with carbohydrates and sugar. Other changes such as eating out more frequently, larger portion sizes and the spread of high calorie fast-food menus also contributed to the rapid rise in obesity.

In 2015 the U.S. Dietary Guidelines eliminated their previous recommendations to reduce dietary cholesterol.2 This was a significant change in their 1980 recommendations and caused some confusion.

So what are the known truths and falsehoods about fat today?

False: All fat is good for you

There are Good Fats & Bad Fats. Here are a few examples of each:

Good Fats to include in the diet are contained in:

– nuts, seeds, avocados, coconuts, omega-3 fatty fish (salmon, anchovies, mackeral)

– unrefined coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and nut oils like walnut, hazelnut, almond and pistachio oil

Examples of Bad Fats are:

-margarine

-hydrogenated oils

-trans fats (processed fats)

True: Consuming moderate amounts of healthy fats does not make you gain weight

Strangely enough, even though a gram of fat contains 9 calories versus 4 calories in a gram of protein or carbohydrate, moderate amounts of fat to your diet do not make you gain weight.

-If you include more healthy fats in your diet, you’ll feel full faster and won’t have strong hunger pains in between meals – which lead to snacking.

-Healthy fats that contain Medium Chain Triglycerides – such as coconut oil – can boost your metabolism.3

False: Eating fat causes illnesses such as heart disease

Science supports that eating healthy fat does not cause cardiovascular disease3 and can reverse certain diseases such as diabetes4 and depression.5

I can attest that including healthy fats in my diet has had at least 3 noticeable benefits for me:

  1. increased my energy and sustained it throughout the day
  2. eliminated strong hunger pains later in the day
  3. reduced my between-meal snacking.

And all that without causing any weight gain.

I make sure to include a moderate amount of healthy fat in my breakfast in the morning (one tablespoon of coconut oil in my oatmeal or the same amount of almond butter in my protein drink, for example). This reduces late-morning hunger pains and keeps me from snacking later on. I’ve found that if I start the day this way, I have more control over my appetite later on.

And how about you? Did you know about good fats versus bad fats? Have you tried including more healthy fats in your diet?

Below are 2 books I recommend if you’re interested in finding out more about this subject:

Recommended Reading:

  1. “Eat Fat, Get Thin” by Dr. Mark Hyman, Little, Brown and Company, Feb. 2016
  2. “Fat for Fuel” by Dr. Joseph Mercola, Hay House, Inc., May 2017

Sources:

  1. “Nutrition and Your Health-Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” United States Department of Agriculture, 1980; https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/dietary_guidelines_for_americans/1980thin.pdf
  2. “2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, United States Department of Agriculture, 2015; https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/
  3. “Medium-chain triglycerides increase energy expenditure and decrease adiposity in overweight men.”, St-Onge, Ross, Parsons, Jones, March 2003 ; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12634436
  4. “Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents: a prospective cohort study”, Dehghan, Mente, Zhang, et al., The Lancet, August 2017; http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32252-3/fulltext
  5. “The effects of a Mediterranean diet on the need for diabetes drugs and remission of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes: follow-up of a randomized trial.” Esposito, Maiorino, Petrizzo, et al; Diabetes Care, 2014; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24722497
  6. “Role of omega-3 fatty acides in the treatment of depressive disorders: a comprehensive meta-analysisi of randomized clinical trials.”, Grosso, Pajak, Marventano, et al. PLoS One, May 2014 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24805797

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