So where does this leave fat for our health?
Since scientists found a relationship between high fat consumption and heart disease in the 1940s, eating fat has had a pretty bad rap, generally accepted in the medical field across most of the world as having a detrimental effect on overall health.
But in America in 2013, heart disease accounted for almost 19% of all hospital admittances for men and 15% for women aged over 65, many of whom will have followed low-fat diets throughout their lifetimes. So where does this leave fat for our health? Let’s take a look at 3 common misconceptions about eating fat in your diet which science has since debunked.
Misconception #1: Eating fat makes you fat
First, we need to take a quick look at the different types of fat there are, since there actually are “good” and “not so good” varieties.
Monounsaturated fats - Really good for you, and found mostly in plant-based foods such as olive oil, sesame oil, peanut butter, almonds and pecans.
Polyunsaturated fats - The ones with omega 3 and 6, this type can be found in fatty fish, like herring, mackerel, salmon and trout as well as soybean.
The Not So Good
Saturated fats - High levels of saturated fat in your diet can raise cholesterol levels, which can in turn lead to heart disease. Typically found in animal-based foods such as cheese, milk and other dairy, and fatty and processed cuts of meat.
Trans or hydrogenated fats - The Big Bad Wolf of the fats, this one will not only raise your “bad” cholesterol levels, but also lower your “good” ones. Typically found in heavily processed and fried foods, such as frozen pizza, fries, pastries and baked goods.
Now, back to the myth-busting.
For every gram of fat you eat you get 9 calories, regardless of the type. With that in mind, if you consume food high in healthy fats you will feel fuller more quickly and for longer than without. This means you’ll be eating less overall and, therefore, not gaining weight from excess calorie consumption.
Misconception #2: You should choose low-fat options
To make them taste more appealing, processed food producers typically replace the fat content in their products with sugar and other additives, such as artificial sweeteners. Not only does processed sugar come with its own set of health hazards but the product ends up having the same amount of calories as its full fat counterparts anyway (and less of the satiety). Always check the ingredients list before you buy!
Misconception #3: You can’t eat fat and lose weight
A study conducted to investigate the effects of a low fat versus a low carbohydrate diet showed that the group on a low carb diet experienced more weight loss and greater reduction in heart disease risk factors than the low fat group.
So, while it’s true that you do need to remain conscious of your fat consumption for optimal health, you can start to see fat in a much more positive light now that you know it’s not all bad!
Which types of fats do you consume most in your diet?