With an obesity epidemic in America and fast food chains on every corner, it may seem counter-intuitive to say: It’s time to end the pervasive anti-fat crusade. But it is. The key to staying healthy and fighting obesity is not to go on a blind rampage against all creams, cheeses, fatty meats and oils. Rather, our bodies need a certain amount of good fat to operate well. Cheesecake lovers, your time has come again – we’re removing fats from the naughty corner.
Shedding Light On the Fat
America loves an enemy: in this case, fat. However, not all fats are equal, and not all should be shunned. Eating cashew butter on toast is not the same as gorging on French fries. It’s important to know the difference between good fats and bad fats, and to recognize that in small doses, eating good fat is a supremely important part of a healthy lifestyle.
These types of fats are necessary to human health and should be consumed on a daily basis: unsaturated fats like vegetable oils (olive, canola, sunflower, soy, flax, corn), nuts and nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, macadamia), seeds, avocados, coconuts and fish (full of omega-3).
These fats are unhealthy in high doses but they’re not inherently as “bad” as they’re made out to be: saturated fats like red meat, goose, duck, cheese, butter, whole milk and dairy creams. Experts recommend no more than 7-10% of your daily caloric intake, but everybody’s metabolic genetics and daily requirements are different.
These fats give all others a bad name and should be avoided as much as possible: human-made trans fatty acids and hydrogenated oils, which occur in a lot of processed, packaged and manufactured foods like frozen food, fast food, chips, cookies and other “junk foods.”
It’s not eating fat that causes a problem, it’s eating the wrong type of fat and eating too much of it that has undesirable consequences like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. In the 1960s, fats and oils accounted for about 45% of an average American’s diet and the rate of obesity was 13%, while today, Americans get only a third of their calories from fat yet we have more than double the obesity rate. The misguided idea that a no-fat diet is desirable needs to be thrown out the window.
4 Reasons Eating Fat Is Good For You:
Eating good fats with every meal helps absorb other nutrients.
Fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K need fat in order to be fully absorbed into the body. For example, eating a spinach salad with no-fat dressing prevents your body from getting the full benefit of the spinach. Pairing fat-soluble foods with good fats, like a fatty dressing or nuts, is essential to optimizing your nutrient intake and can lead to overall better health.
Eating the right types of fats can actually prevent overeating.
Eating fatty foods can help you get full faster and stay satisfied longer. Some new studies have found that rich foods high in saturated fat trigger something in the brain called the “sensory-specific satiety point.” Our psyche loves huge, overwhelming flavors not only because they feel good, but also because they tell us when to stop eating. Roast up some duck and cheese and you might feel satiated enough not to over eat the high glycemic, sugary and/or processed grain foods that so many people have cravings for.
Eating healthy amounts of rich fats can cut down cravings for trans fats.
Eating notoriously fatty foods like cheesecake or roast mutton on occasion can actually help regulate our desire for junk food. If you deprive your body of fats for too long, you’ll soon find your cravings spiking through the roof and a bag of chips on your desk. But if you treat yourself to rich cheeses and olives on a daily basis, you’ll be less inclined to crave McDonald’s every day while forcing down celery to “curb your hunger”. Throw out the guilt; you are regulating your blood sugar for a healthier and efficient metabolism!
Eating good fats can lead to improved immunity and lower disease risk.
Health is an overarching story, and get-thin-quick diets that tell you to cut out all fats won’t do any good in the long run, no matter how many pounds you lose in two weeks. Recent research has found that incorporating good fats into your diet may fight cancer, lower risk for heart disease, strengthen cell membranes, stabilize nerves, improve cardiovascular health and even fight obesity.
The Bottom Line About Fat
Unsaturated (good) fats are necessary in the diet on a daily basis. Saturated (not-so-bad) fats can be beneficial and enjoyable in small doses. Trans (ugly) fats should be avoided at all costs. Like with any well-balanced diet, health occurs when employing integrity, so as a disclaimer, the amount of fat intake shouldn’t exceed a reasonable limit. But with a conscious amount of regulation, you can go ahead and give yourself permission to enjoy (for flavor AND health) that whole milk and olive oil!