In the late 1970’s, rising rates of obesity, heart disease and some cancers were blamed on dietary fat. A few early studies linked fat consumption with higher blood cholesterol levels, and suddenly fat was a new enemy. It seemed so simple: eat fat, get fat. So everyone went on low-fat diets. By the 1990’s, low-fat food products were everywhere. Butter and eggs were banished from the breakfast table; muffins the size of a baby’s head took their place. We replaced fat with carbs. And of course we kept getting fatter.
It’s not fat that makes you fat — it’s sugar
Here are four things you probably didn’t know about fat, followed by four high-fat foods that could help you lose weight.
1. Fat is a necessary nutrient
Did you know 20% to 40% of your dietary calories should come from fat? Your body needs fat for cell formation, transportation of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), nerve transmission, hormone function, body temperature regulation and internal organ protection.
If you ate no fat at all your body would have a hard time absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, which could lead to serious deficiencies. Not enough vitamin A, for example, could result in night blindness. Too little vitamin D could cause rickets, softening of the bones.
Too much of any nutrient can cause imbalances, but so can too little. So enjoy a moderate amount of healthy fat in your diet.
2. Fat doesn’t make you fat
That’s right, fat doesn’t make you fat. It doesn’t raise your cholesterol levels either. Foods like whole-fat plain Greek yogurt can actually help you lose weight: the fat makes you feel full, while sugar just makes you crave more sugar.
There are good fats and bad fats
3. “Low-fat” food products might make you fat
Fat makes food taste good. Without it, many foods taste terrible. (Ever had skim milk cheese? I rest my case.) Fat adds a satisfying texture and mouthfeel. When food manufacturers remove the fat from a natural food, they often add sugar, flour or other starches to make their product creamier and more palatable.
On the other hand, trans fats — created by hydrogenation of a liquid oil to increase shelf life — raise your LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol). Avoid these fats! They’re listed on food labels as “modified” or “hydrogenated” oils. Trans fats can also occur when some liquid oils are heated at high temperatures, as in deep frying. So to avoid trans fats, when frying food use saturated fats like ghee or coconut oil. These won’t denature in high heat and they taste great.
Here are 4 high-fat foods to add to your diet
Full Fat Yogurt
Scandinavian studies have shown people who eat full-fat, unsweetened yogurt are leaner than those who choose the low-fat variety. That’s partly because the low-fat versions often contain carbohydrate thickeners and emulsifiers to mask that unappetizing runny texture, as well as sugar (usually masquerading as fruit) to make it taste less awful. Some low-fat yogurts contain as much sugar as a Twinkie! And if that’s not bad enough, removing the milk fat from yogurt eliminates most of the calcium and magnesium too.
Nuts, another food we avoided in the fat-fearing days, are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. As a midday snack, a serving of nuts (a handful about the size of a golf ball) will make you feel pleasantly full — and might just prevent you from noshing on the timbits your naughty co-worker brought into the office!
Nuts are great for athletes, too, as well as diabetics, since they can help control blood sugar. They also protect your body’s most important muscle: the heart. That’s why the Mayo Clinic recommends them as a part of your daily diet.
Did you know the avocado is actually a fruit? Avocados are about 70% fat, most of it healthy, monounsaturated oleic acid (also found in olive oil). For many years avocados were thought to be fattening, but recent studies suggest people who eat avocados tend to be leaner and have less belly fat than those who don’t.
Eggs are a near-perfect food. They contain all 9 essential amino acids, high levels of A and B-complex vitamins and minerals. Eggs are high in both fat and protein, which makes us feel full for a long time. And no, they don’t raise your cholesterol levels.
Fat can be your friend!
Contrary to what you may have always heard, fat is not your enemy. Go ahead and enjoy healthy fats within healthy limits. And it doesn’t take much work to change your ways: tomorrow morning, instead of cereal and fruit for breakfast try scrambled eggs with diced avocado, topped with toasted pine nuts and a spoonful of Greek yogurt. And enjoy your high energy levels for the rest of your day!
Fat Is Not Your Enemy: 4 High-Fat Foods That Could Help You Lose Weight Things You Probably Didn't Know About Fat " >