This post goes out to all those ladies (and maybe guys too, I don't know) who thinks they know a thing or two about fat. Because quite frankly, I doubt you do. No offense, it's not your fault. I blame the government. After all, they were the ones who initially suggested 6-11 servings of grains per day. L-O-L. Speaking of the government ruining our standards of nutrition, check out the book Food Politics, by Marion Nestle. But that't for another time, another day. Back to fat. I was born in a generation where everything had to be low-fat or non-fat. If not, I was going to be fat. Are you still guilty of going to the grocery store and getting low-fat salad dressing, non-fat greek yogurt, or skim milk? Don't be ashamed. But here is the truth: WE NEED FAT. OUR BODIES LIKE FAT. FAT IS GOOD. It's just about knowing which fat is good and which we should toss out the window. So here we go.
First off, it's not about how much fat you eat that will raise your blood cholesterol, or increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Instead, it's about what kind of fat you eat. One half of your fats should come from healthful monounsaturated fat, while the other half of your fat intake should be split between polyunsaturated fat and saturated fat. Yes, I said saturated. Hear me out. These are all good fats and will protect your heart and vessels from cardiovascular diseases.
These fats lower your level of total blood cholesterol, thus decreasing your risk of heart disease. They are also known for playing a key role in protecting against breast cancer. You may be reading this and thinking "ok Jen, I get it. But I have no idea where to find monounsaturated fat." No problem, many people don't. Some examples include olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
These fats also contribute to lower cholesterol and protection against heart disease, when consumed in moderation. The two key players in polyunsaturated fats are omega 6 fats and omega 3 fats. The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats should be about 2 to 1, but in a typical American diet, people are consuming a ratio closer to 10 to 1. And what does this increased ratio mean? Eating too many omega 6 fats at the expense of healthful omega 3's increases your risk of heart disease and cancers, and may induce inflammatory and autoimmune responses. Omega 3 fats are particularly beneficial for insulin metabolism and lowering blood triglyceride levels. Additionally, omega 3's are exceptionally wonderful in preventing irregular heartbeats and heart attacks. For example, French physicians studied the effects of a high omega 3 diet in 600 patients who previously survived a heart attack. Half of the patients were assigned to the AHA reduced-fat diet, in which their total fat intake was 30% of their daily calories. The other 300 patients followed a Mediterranean diet in which 35% of their total calories came from omega 3 and monounsaturated fats. Results showed that the patients who were consuming the Mediterranean diet, in comparison to the AHA diet, had a 76% lower risk of dying from another heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular disease.
So what can you take away from this? More fat does not mean less healthy. When it's the right kind of fat, it's actually quite vital in maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. Make sure you are eating enough omega 3 fats (walnuts, green veggies, and fatty fishies) and are cutting back on omega 6's (safflower, corn, and soybean oil, various nuts and seeds, and cereals). If you do not eat fish, you should consider taking an omega 3 supplement of 500 mg per day.
If you are guilty of always avoiding fat...you're dumb. Well, not dumb, but naive and clueless.