If you're like me, you grew up in an age where calorie-counts were king and the cupboard was stocked with low-fat everything. Your lunch was packed with low-fat Snackwell cookies or "baked" Lay's chips, you ended your evenings with a scoop of non-fat frozen yogurt, macadamia nuts and pistachios were an indulgent treat, and margarine was the only thing you'd ever spread on your Wonder bread because, you know, it was the healthy choice:)
While we've come a long way in understanding the truth about our healthiest choices, the word FAT still seems to scare us off. The F word has become so engrained in our culture as a negative, both inside and outside the realm of food—that we shun at the thought. Call me a crazy NUT, call me bland, call me empty (calories that is) or call me sickly sweet, but don't you DARE call me FAT! Am I right? Well, I think it's time to give our heads a shake and dig into some of the most recent thoughts and data.
DID YOU KNOW?
- That roughly half of our cell membrane structure is composed of saturated fat, and that saturated animal fats, like butter or fatty organ meats, contain huge amounts of essential fat-soluble vitamins (K2, A, D, among others). Source
- Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil—found in Nola bars—can help our bodies to resist bacteria and fungus, positively affect our hormones and blood-sugar control, improve insulin-use within the body, help to increase metabolism and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Source
In the case of the U.S., saturated fat consumption has dropped by 11% since the early 1970s, while the consumption of carbohydrates—pasta, grains, fruit, starchy vegetables—has increased by 25%. Carbs break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin, which happens to be very good at helping your body store fat (think cellulite!) instead of using it as energy. Source
The attack on fat has been especially bad for Women. When women follow low-fat diets—and they’ve done so more religiously than men—their levels of “good” HDL cholesterol drops even more dramatically than it does in men, which increases the risk of heart disease. Source
A low-fat label usually means LOTS of sugar to make it edible. It turns out that sugar, in all it's hidden forms, may be the real culprit for making you fat. What it also means is that because sugar causes inflammation throughout the body, it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, and just about everything else!
- Your new Best-Friend fats include organic butter, organic ghee, lard rendered from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals, coconut oil, palm oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and natural nut butters. Source
- To watch that waistline, avoid mixing your fats with too many carbs. When you eat foods that are both high in carbohydrates and fat, you’ll trigger insulin spikes. Keep doing that over and over again and you'll start to program insulin to convert everything you eat to fat. Instead, stick to pairing your awesomely fatty foods with leafy green or non-starchy veggies and low sugar berries.
I'd be remiss not to mention that there are some fats that you should still stay away from, namely chemically processed vegetable oils and Trans Fats. Mark Sisson, From Mark's Daily Apple explains it best:
"The unnatural chemical modification process that created (vegetable) and trans fats made products more shelf stable but has wreaked havoc in the bodies of those who ingest them. The body doesn’t recognize the transformed fats and...doesn’t know to eliminate it. The trans fats are absorbed through cell membranes, where they initiate general disorder in cell metabolism.Trans fats...have been associated with inflammation, associated atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity and immune system dysfunction. Source
Still Hungry for knowledge? Here's some great articles and books on the subject:
Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe
The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz
Fat Chance by Robert Lustig
Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
The Definitive Guide to Fats from Mark's Daily Apple
What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts, questions or concerns! Please keep in mind, I'm not a nutritionist nor a doctor, and I don't claim to have all the answers. I'm not trying to make any overarching statements but simply presenting the data that—through my research and intrigue of the topic—makes the most sense to me.