One thing I have noticed from reviewing many people’s food journals is most people are not getting enough essential/healthy fats in our diets. This is probably because of all the marketing that claims following a low fat diet helps to lose weight and lowers cholesterol or controls heart disease. Here are some interesting stats that may be a shock to you low-fat dieters…
“The low-fat approach to eating may have made a difference for the occasional individual, but as a nation it hasn’t helped us control weight or become healthier. In the 1960s, fats and oils supplied Americans with about 45 percent of calories; (1) about 13 percent of adults were obese and under 1 percent had type 2 diabetes, a serious weight-related condition. (2,3) Today, Americans take in less fat, getting about 33 percent of calories from fats and oils; (4) yet 34 percent of adults are obese and 11 percent have diabetes, most with type 2 diabetes. (5,6)”
Why hasn’t cutting fat from the diet paid off as expected? Detailed research—much of it done at Harvard—shows that the total amount of fat in the diet isn’t really linked with weight or disease. What really matters is the TYPE of fat and the TOTAL CALORIES in the diet. Bad fats, meaning trans and saturated fats (i.e. hydrogenated oils, pizza, cheese, butter, whole and reduced fat milk, sausage, bacon, hamburgers, cookies etc) increase the risk for certain diseases. Good fats, meaning monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, omega 3’s etc), do just the opposite. They are good for the heart and most other parts of the body.
One problem with a generic lower fat diet is that it prompts most people to stop eating fats that are good for the heart along with those that are bad for it. Another problem is that when people cut back on fat, they often switch to foods full of easily digested (or simple) carbohydrates—white bread, white rice, potatoes, sugary drinks, etc—or to fat-free products that replace healthful fats with sugar and refined carbohydrates. The body digests these carbohydrates very quickly, causing blood sugar and insulin levels to spike. Over time, eating lots of “fast carbs” can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes as much as—or more than—eating too much saturated fat. That’s why it’s important to replace foods high in bad fats with foods high in good fats—not with refined carbohydrates. Personally I notice that since I have made a conscious effort to eat more fats I have fewer carb cravings AND my skin, hair and nails have never been healthier!!!
Here is a picture of my dinner last night (with leftovers for lunch today!)-a complete meal that includes chicken (lean protein), brown rice (complex carb) yellow peppers (complex carb/veg) and avocado (GOOD FAT!) with a bit of garlic, sea salt and pepper for taste…
The Bottom Line:
Recommendations for Fat Intake from (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/#Intro)
Although the different types of fat have a varied (and sometimes confusing) effect on health and disease, the basic message is simple: Out with the bad, in with the good. You can do this by choosing foods with healthy fats, limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, and avoiding trans fat. Here’s how to make it happen:
- Eliminate trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils.Food labels should say “0” (zero) on the line for trans fat; also scan the ingredient list to make sure it does not contain partially hydrogenated oils. Fortunately, most food manufacturers have removed trans fats from their products. In restaurants, steer clear of fried foods, biscuits, and other baked goods, unless you know that the restaurant has eliminated trans fat (many already have).
- Limit your intake of saturated fats by cutting back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods. Try replacing red meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish whenever possible, and switching from whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods to lower fat versions, or just eating smaller amounts of full-fat dairy products, such as cheese. Don’t replace red meat with refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, potatoes, etc).
- In place of butter, use liquid vegetable oils rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, in cooking and at the table. Olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, peanut oil, and the like are great sources of healthy fat.
- Eat one or more good sources of omega-3 fats every day. Fish, walnuts, canola or soybean oil, ground flax seeds or flaxseed oil are excellent sources of omega-3 fats. (or take an omega-3 fish oil supplement!)