Fat – Friend or Foe?

Healthy Fats BoardToasted Almonds

Prominent health and medical professionals have, for the entire span of my lifetime, advocated a low fat diet to reach optimum health. Claims that a low fat diet will help reduce heart disease, cholesterol problems and fat gain, and increase longevity have been consistently published for the public eye. A food pyramid was even created, that showed us how to limit our fat intake and up our carbohydrate intake. It seemed logical that if we stop eating fat, we’ll lose fat. Billions of dollars and expertise have been channelled into public nutritional standards and recommendations over these years, so surely they’re onto something good, right?

It is astonishing to realise that these public nutritional recommendations we have been hearing our entire lives, were never actually supported with any reliable scientific proof. They began as hypotheses that appealed to those who were advocating it, and remained as hypothesis without being proven right. Truthfully, they were actually proven wrong, but these findings were, conveniently, never published or publicised. That is, until now. More reliable research from the ‘good scientists’ like Gary Taubes and Malcolm Kendrick is beginning to surface. It rings alarm bells about the previous nutritional beliefs. It is saying that fat (including saturated fat), dietary cholesterol, and even salt, are healthy for the human body. They can also help us lose fat. Food examples include fatty meats, eggs, butter, raw full-fat dairy, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and avocado. Refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, can be extremely harmful for the human body. They can also cause us to gain fat. Food examples include pasta, couscous, white rice, bread and a myriad of processed and packaged foods. In a nutshell, our diminishing intake of fats and salt is harming our health, as is our increased intake of refined carbohydrates.

So, the verdict: FAT IS YOUR FRIEND. There is so much evidence surfacing confirming that eating healthy fat does not make you fat. In fact, it helps you to lose fat. Our bodies need healthy fat to run efficiently, and to stay lean. Higher fat diets also fill you up for longer, meaning you don’t feel like consuming so much food to reach your body’s nutritional needs. Basically, eating fat can help you feel and look healthier.

So, where does one start when they have forever been told fat is bad and carbs are good? It can be a difficult mind shift. Instead of building our meals around carbs and supplementing it with protein (for example pastas and risottos), start with the protein… or better, start with the vegetables! Make meat or veggies the star or your meal. Supplement meat with plenty of clean green vegetables. Of course you can add a handful of good carbohydrates, like sweet potato or other starchier vegetables. Homemade condiments like olive-oil based mayonnaise and sugar-free sauces are a great addition too.

My own diet currently consists of of some red meats, poultry and fish, cooked in generous amounts of olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and butter. My meals always include lots of fresh, green vegetables along with more vegetables. Avocado appears when it is affordable, and I usually add some sweet potato or parsnip, and occasionally some rice. Spices and herbs are my chosen flavour enhancers. I have eggs, chia puddings, smoothies, leftovers, mug-cakes or natural yoghurt based meals for brekkie. I eat about two pieces of fruit each day, especially blueberries, oranges and kiwifruit. I snack on nuts, seeds, cheese, homemade goodies, eggs, natural greek yoghurt and homemade nut butters. And I never count calories, as it can become an unhealthy obsession. I feel great, and happy! Healthy-fat low-carb for the win!

If you are wondering more about different types of fats, see this bog post.

Further Info:

For some great recipes, see:

By the Way: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts,  because I would love to know more.

 

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