More Mythbusting: Fear of Fats

This article appeared as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.

Surprise! Eating Some Fats is Good for You

In my last column, I explained how the calories in/calories out model sabotages your weight-loss plans. Let’s continue busting common health myths. Today: the myth that eating fat makes you fat.

Have you been frightened into thinking that eating any amount of dietary fat is harmful? In fact, eating a low or no-fat diet is more likely to put you at risk, because fat, and yes, even cholesterol, are essential to human life. Without them, you disrupt many normal functions, cause accelerated aging and break down your metabolism. Fats are essential to every process in your body, including a healthy, well-functioning brain.

Body fat is not necessarily correlated to dietary fat, in part because eating fat does not stimulate release of insulin. In fact, body fat and high cholesterol are more likely to be the result of a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates.

Numerous studies show that people lose weight and improve health by adding healthy fats to their diets, not reducing or eliminating them. But there’s the clue: the difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats, even if the number of calories is the same.

Plant fats generally good

Plant fats are generally good for you. Nuts and seeds, coconuts and avocados are better than fat marbled into a burger or steak, fried foods or processed foods made with hydrogenated fats. And most people know that fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and trout provide healthy fats.

But did you know that pasture-raised cows that are never fed grain have a healthier fat profile than farm-raised, grain-fed fish? Animals fed “species-appropriate food” are always healthier to eat.

A recent headline-making study that showed any amount of meat increased mortality from cancer and heart disease did not take this into account. I was not surprised, however, that it showed significantly higher risk for people who ate processed meat, such as bacon and deli meats.

Beware: Many low-fat foods, including ice cream, yogurt, cakes and cookies, add extra sugars to make up for lack of palatability. Plus, eating low fat often leaves you hungry and craving carbohydrates shortly after. So don’t be afraid: Add some healthy fats back into your diet.

link to published article here

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