Here is the skinny on why fat doesn’t make you fat. Recent studies show that it is the type of fat we eat that can affect our health and weight. “Good” fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated – the kind found in avocados — have heart-healthy benefits. They lower our risk of heart disease, prevent or even reverse diabetes, and reduce/prevent inflammation. In addition to avocados, “good-fat-foods” include olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
On the other hand, saturated fat and trans-fat (the worse kind!) can increase our risk of stroke and high blood pressure. “Bad-fat-foods” include red meat, cheese, ice cream, and processed foods made with partially hydrogenated oil (trans-fat).
So if it’s not fat that’s making us fat, what is? The latest study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that the culprit is sugar. What’s even worse is when food companies remove fat to make a “fat-free” product, they typically add sugar! Sugar has been identified as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and many other chronic diseases, according to the JAMA report. So don’t be afraid of healthy fats!
Incorporated into our meals, healthy fat from sources such as nuts, legumes, seeds, olive oil, avocados and olives help us feel satisfied after eating.
- We are less likely to crave sugar when we eat healthy fats on a regular basis.
- Fat helps our bodies absorb vitamins from our foods, such as A, D, E and K. It also helps us have healthy skin, nails and hair.
- Remember, it is the type of fat that matters. You want to avoid saturated fat and trans-fat (see my May newsletter) as they can raise LDL cholesterol and cause plaque build-up in our arteries (a leading cause of heart attack and stroke). You want to increase foods rich in Omega-3 fats which help reduce inflammation and support a healthy heart, blood pressure and joints.
- Avoid saturated fat found in meat and dairy products. Trans-fats are mostly found in processed foods such as cookies, chips, doughnuts, fried foods, etc.
- Consume healthy fats and Omega-3 fats by eating salmon, sardines, flax seeds, and in moderation, almonds, walnuts, olive oil, olives, and this month’s SuperFood, avocados!
- Contrary to what food manufacturers would like you to believe, low-fat and non-fat processed foods really aren’t any healthier; when food manufacturers take out fat they typically add sugar and/or other unhealthy ingredients or chemicals to help the food taste better.
- The American Heart Association recommends that 18 to 28 percent of the calories we eat come from healthy fat. But of course, that’s hard to calculate, so I recommend you think like Dr. Hu, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, who says: “I just make sure that the fats I eat come from healthy food sources—like olive oils, fish, legumes, nuts, and other plant-based foods. If you do that, then there’s no need to count.”