Ever since the 50s’ we’ve been told to eat less fat, to go on low-fat diets and choose the low-fat products in the stores if we want to stay healthy and slim. But the truth is, fat has been misjudged for way too long. Our bodies need fat to thrive and survive, it’s one of its most important building blocks. It’s healthy and nutritious – and it’s yummy!
The truth about fat
Political interests and lobbying by the sugar industry had a huge impact on research during the 50s’-70's. As several studies and scientists were financed by the sugar industry at this time, the results were often times skewed or interpreted to the industry’s advantage. To ensure that the sugar consumption continued to thrive, fat was made the villain and wrongfully got the blame for many of the health issues during that time and the fear of fat started to widely spread (1).
But fat plays an important part in our overall health. It is one of the three macronutrients that our body needs to function properly. If you eat the right amount of good fats, you will notice a difference in both your body and mind – and you will gain all kinds of different health benefits.
Why do we need fat?
Some of the great perks of adding good sources of fat into your diet are:
Almost 60% of your brain is made of fat. Thus, fat is fundamental for your brains’ health and performance.
Our bodies need fat to absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as the vitamins A, D, E and K. So, if you don’t eat a piece of good fat with your meal, your body won’t absorb all of these important vitamins.
When we eat fat, we feel satisfied for a longer period of time. If we don’t add fat to our food, we might start craving sugar and carbs instead.
Fat keeps your blood sugar steady. This will keep your energy levels stable and improve your mood.
There’s bad cholesterol (LDL) and there’s good (HDL). Good cholesterol comes from good fats, which will improve your good cholesterol levels and lower the bad cholesterol which in turn can decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Together with the point above, this might be one of the biggest and most important health benefits. The right fats can support your immune system and decrease blood sugar and inflammation which may help protect you against diseases such as cancer, dementia, and type 2 diabetes.
Eating healthy fats won’t make you fat. On the other hand, too much sugar (also known as glucose) and starch (which also turns into glucose when our bodies digests it) have been shown to product more fat. Our bodies use glucose as energy, but when we eat more glucose than the body has use for, excess glucose can be stored as fat.
Good fat vs bad fat
It’s not just as simple as eating fat vs. not eating fat. To get all the health benefits, you have to choose the healthy fats and avoid the bad. Stay away from refined fats in processed foods, hydrogenated fats made of vegetable oils, and instead go for natural unprocessed saturated fats and unsaturated fats (preferably the ones called monounsaturated, found in avocado, olive oil and nuts, or polyunsaturated fats like Omega 3).
Healthy sources of fat
Apart from being crazy healthy and nutritious, fat is tasty! Not only does fat enhance the flavours in your food, most of the great sources of fat tastes very good on their own.
Here’s some things to add in your bag next time you’re out grocery shopping:
Nuts contain almost all of the good sources of fat, which makes them very healthy. They also make a perfect source of protein and the perfect snack to grab when you’re on the go.
They may be small in size, but they have a high proportion of fat. Some favorites are chia seeds and hemp seeds, which also contains a lot of healthy fibers, protein and vitamins.
There’s a reason why avocados are called the butter of the gods by scientists. They’re loaded with fats, are great for your brain and contain lots of vitamins. Also, they help reduce inflammation.
- Olive oil
Go for the extra virgin one! Studies show that pouring some extra virgin olive oil over your food may significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks.
If you want to add more omega 3 to your diet, wild caught and sustainably raised fish is a great source to turn to. We tend to be deficient in this type of fat, so make sure you get the amount that you need.
Remember to always look go for the natural and clean stuff!
1. The Joe Rogan Experience episode #1058 - Nina Teicholz - Learn more about how fat wrongfully became our biggest health enemy during the 50’s from the investigating journalist and the author of “The Big Fat Surprise”.
2. Healthy fats what you need to know - Chris Kresser
3. 10 reasons why you should eat fat to get thin - Dr. Mark Hyman
Sara Åhlund, Holistic health coach