Low-fat vs high-fat diets are a hotly debated topic right now and understandably can be a confusing one!
For years fat was a dirty three letter word. We were urged to banish it from our diets and instead switch to low-fat foods. But this didn’t make us any healthier, in fact it did the opposite.
Of course there are many other contributing factors, such as a move towards sedentary lifestyles and overeating on discretionary foods (junk food), but don’t you think it is odd that ever since the low-fat craze in, the obesity epidemic has simultaneously sky-rocketed? One reason for this is that often the fat that is taken out of things such as dairy products, is usually replaced with added sugar and ingredients you and I could never pronounce! All in effort to maintain it’s taste and have you coming back for more!
So is fat good or bad for us?
Well unfortunately it is not as simple as a yes or no answer. However I hope to clear up your confusion right hear, right now.
Our bodies need a certain amount of fat from food. It is a major source of energy and also assists with the absorption of many important vitamins and minerals. The important thing we need to be aware of for our long-term health is the type and amount of fat eaten.
Do not be afraid of good fats, they will not make you fat. Classified as either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, these types of fats come primarily from foods such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables and egg yolks and are nourishing not only for our insides but also our outsides. Eating a wholesome diet filled with good fats has just some of the following benefits: keeps us fuller for longer, fights off cravings, healthy brain function, reduced risk of heart disease, improved mood, increased energy and glowing skin and hair.
As the name suggests, these are the bad guys we need to stay away from. Known as trans fats, this type of fat is found primarily in discretionary foods and can appear in anything from muffins and cakes to pastries, pies and hot chips from fast-food restaurants. Eating excessive amounts of this type of fat can increase the amount of bad LDL cholesterol in our blood and reduce the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Trans fats can also cause inflammation in the body, which can be linked to heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Known as saturated fats, these types of fats are good in moderation and are commonly found in food sources such as red meat, full fat milk and dairy products, coconut oil and many pre-made baked goods. When eaten in excess, saturated fats can drive up total cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
If you are used to a lower fat diet and the idea of incorporating fat scares you, start by incorporating at least one good fat source in your meal. Whether it be what your cooking with (olive oil) or a component of the meal (oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocado), incorporating good fats into your diet, along with a healthy and balanced diet, is a surefire way to ensure you are doing the best for your health.