It’s Fat Tuesday, and while fat days generally get a bad rap; this one is all about celebrating!  The same should also goes for dietary fats. Vilified for years, we’ve finally come to realize that fat is not something to fear, but rather something to eat on the regular.

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In studies comparing a low fat diet to diets like Paleo, vegan and Mediterranean – the low fat diet always loses.  The trick is in eating the right kind and the right amount. The problem is that the guidelines seem to change as often as seasonal runway trends do.

To help decipher some of the confusion out there, I’ve mapped out some of the basics of fat and how to appreciate, not abuse, one of nature’s yummiest gifts!

WHY FAT ROCKS

The kind of fat that ends up on your body is the result of excess calories that are then converted to tissue.  It’s not the same, nor is it directly related to the kind you put in your mouth. Certain vitamins, namely A, D, E and K, are fat soluble – meaning that your body won’t properly absorb them without the help of some fat. Fat gives you energy and supports healthy organ function, including skin – so it actually makes you look as good as you feel.

WHY THIS IS NEWS

The war against fat began in the late 70’s in response to a sudden rise in cardiovascular and heart disease in the US. Unfortunately, the studies done to support these claims (and the entire basis of the food pyramid) were never done on humans.  Yup, you read that right.  This was called the “diet-heart hypothesis” and was based on observational data and animal studies.

Fat gives you energy and supports healthy organ function, including skin – so it actually makes you look as good as you feel.

WHAT KIND TO EAT

Both mono and polyunsaturated fats are shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease. Omega 3 fatty acids are one type of polyunsaturated fat that are superheroes that also prevent and lessen symptoms of depression, asthma, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and dementia.  They’re crucial for infant development and reduce memory loss and other symptoms of aging … so basically, you should eat them your whole life!

WHAT KIND NOT TO EAT

Even saturated fats have awesome health benefits when used in moderation. While it’s true that they can raise your “bad cholesterol” or LDL, they can also raise your “good cholesterol” or ADL, effectively negating the effects of the bad.

It’s important to consider the source of the fat, as well as the type. While both butter and coconut oil are saturated fat, the process of raising and harvesting cows to make butter is often riddled with hormones and GMO feed, along with unsanitary conditions and animal cruelty.  That being said, if you trust the provider – the difference between butter and coconut oil is actually pretty negligible.

Trans fats naturally occur in small traces in some meat and dairy, and those are fine.  The scary kind are artificial trans fats found in fried food, and packaged, processed foods. These can seriously mess up your cholesterol, leading to everyone’s original fear from back in the 70’s when this all started … heart and cardiovascular disease.

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE

Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are typically liquid. Trans fats are usually partially hydrogenated oils, like the kind in a deep fryer. Otherwise you’ll rarely see them isolated the way you would see a stick of butter, but they lurk in many packaged foods because they prolong the shelflife more than a natural fat would.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Every natural food source is healthy for you in some way, but the key is balance.  Even kale can be bad for you if you eat too much. So rather than jumping on the next diet claiming to have isolated the culprit for all of mankind’s health problems, maintaining an equilibrium of natural foods is a solution so simple, it’s smart.

Do you love (healthly) fats? What’s one way you incorporate them into your diet?

Image provided by Natalie Decleve

6 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this article Im doing keto diet and all of what you said is true. There are good fats and bad fats and this article isolated the good and the bad. thanks a lot love the article.

  2. I appreciate the content of this article! Thank you for the great break down. However, where on earth did you get your information on dairy?? GMO feed, hormone supplements, yes. Unsanitary conditions?? Never! The bacteria count in milk is highly regulated. It takes great sanitary precautions to maintain a low bacteria count. Dairy farmers are paid on a scale of how low their bacteria count is, so they have a high motivation to be sanitary. Also, what business owner do you know that will jepordize their assets? Dairy cows are expensive creatures, and also will not give milk if they are mistreated. Also, if they are not milked regularly, their udders will become swollen and infected. They produce more milk than a calf can drink, and would be in pain if they were not milked. The milking machines are very gentle, similar to breast pumping machines. All this to say–the dairy industry is not harmful to animals, it is helpful. It is not unsanitary, it is very clean. So ladies–eat dairy to your hearts content. It is good for you. I am not affiliated with the dairy industry-I grew up in it, but am no longer involved due to a move. I receive no benefits from the prosperity of the dairy industry, I only care about the misconceptions.

    1. Hi Tanya – Thanks for reading, and for the very thoughtful feedback! I am by no means opposed to dairy, especially when it comes from sources that you trust. Unfortunately, sometimes farms take questionable methods (GMO feed, hormones etc as you also agreed above) to speed production and keep costs down, leading to less than desirable conditions for the animals. My point here is simply that there are many elements to consider when sourcing your fats. So choose the ones that work best for your lifestyle and enjoy!
      @natty_style

  3. I feel completely the same way, and find a list of references at the bottom to be to difficult to actually use. So glad that you found it informative, thanks for reading! xx @natty_style

  4. Thank you for this! I was recently talking to a friend about how tired I am of blogs or online publications writing health articles without providing sources for what they were preaching. Coming across this article that not only backs up its statements with studies, but also advocates balance over all else is so refreshing.

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