Please tell me you've given up the green top milk and have gone back to dark blue or even the one with the red top (you know, the smaller bottle with the thicker stuff in it!)
As we’ve heard over and over again recently, fat does not make you fat, and ‘low-fat’, ‘lite’ and ‘fat-free’ foods have actually contributed to a rise in obesity and chronic disease since they were introduced in the 1980s.
Well, that was a bit of a failure, wasn’t it?!
What’s wrong with low-fat foods?
The fat content of a food has very little to do with its health benefits, and many people have tried to follow a low-fat diet, only to find that they have gained weight, struggled to keep at their goal weight or have even developed health complaints. Does this sound like you?
High fat foods such as avocados, eggs, olive oil, nuts and quality dairy products can be confidently included in a healthy diet. More about that further down.
It’s the low-fat, fat-free foods that cause the biggest problem for health.
In creating a low-fat food, fats must be reduced or removed (obviously!). This leaves a very bland tasting, unsatisfying food, and so to make this food more appealing (so you’ll eat more and buy more!), the gap left by the fat is filled with sugar, additives, thickeners, salts, flour… which creates a food full of empty calories, devoid of nutrient value. And our poor body still has to deal with this food - digest and process it and store the parts of it that offer us no nutrient value (well, that’s quite possibly most of it!) ready for removal later. Our body is clever. When it sees a food that’s not very healthy and has potential dangers (chemicals, unrecognisable ingredients) it will make sure that food gets tucked away somewhere in the body in an attempt to stop it traveling round our blood stream causing problems all over the body. It’s often stored around the abdominal area, in the organs. Not nice! And there’s only so much that those organs (especially the liver) can handle before they become overburdened by the extra muck.
And what’s more, without the fat we are left unsatisfied and still hungry – and therefore it’s no wonder that third…and forth low-fat biscuit looks extra appealing!
Why do we need healthy fats?
Without fat, our body couldn’t function.
The brain is about 60% fat, and every cell in our body contains fat and cholesterol – yes, without cholesterol we would die!
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), especially Omega-3 fatty acids are required by the body and brain – brain health, eye health, immune health, joint health, mental well-being. These EFAs are deemed ‘essential’ because they cannot be synthesized by the body and must be gained from food/diet.
Certain vitamins travel round the body in fat (fat soluble vitamins).
I call these the DEKA vitamins (like the old department store!). Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Vitamin A. Without optimum levels of healthy fat in the body a person can become deficient in these fat-soluble vitamins, leaving them at risk of issues relating to growth, immunity, cell repair and blood clotting.
A diet low in EFAs can slow the nerve communications in the brain, impacting on your mental well-being and increasing the likelihood of developing depression and other mental illnesses.
A lowered amount of healthy fat can cause your body’s HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) to go down.
It is this ‘good’ cholesterol that collects up the LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and sends it to the liver for removal, so eating plenty of EFA rich foods will give your HDL a positive boost, improving cholesterol levels and protecting the heart.
Research has shown that consuming high amounts of EFAs, especially Omega-3, has a positive effect on reducing the risk of cancer (colon, breast, prostate). Omega-3s can slow prostate tumour and cancer cell growth.
How do I choose healthy fats?
Choose Full Fat! Avoid those low-fat, lite or fat-free labels.
JERF – Just Eat Real Food.
Have you heard of JERFing? This is the best, most successful diet you’ll ever need!
The problem with low-fat foods is that they are highly refined and processed and there is very little left of the real food that they started with (also leaving very little nutrient value and a high amount of muck for our body to deal with).
By eating real, whole foods you can avoid the added nasties and give your body all the nutrients it needs.
Whole foods are as close to nature as possible. Do they look like the original plant or animal?
Leave all your husks and peels on if they are edible (I’m not suggesting you eat orange or banana peel!) Choose brown over white – brown rice, wholemeal flour, whole grains. Be aware of how your meat has been raised – organic, grass-fed. Choose quality full fat dairy products.
Full fat all the way! Don’t be scared. Remember – FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT!
Foods high in healthy fat.
Love your body and add these to your everyday meals:
- Quality cheese (if you can eat dairy)
- Greek Yoghurt (full fat!)
- Dark Chocolate
- Eggs (the whole egg!)
- Nuts, seeds
- Nut butters (made from only nuts – go grab yourself a jar of Pic’s!)
- Fatty fish – salmon, tuna, sardines
- Chia Seeds
- Extra Virgin Olive oil (do not use this for cooking since heating will destroy health benefits and could cause it to become an unhealthy trans fat)
- Ground flaxseed
- Coconut oil
Yes, there are unhealthy fats and yes these can wreak havoc with your health. No, not because fat makes you fat (because it doesn’t!), but because these fats have been processed and their chemical structures are damaging to cell health, and cause inflammation throughout the body.
Your poor body gets a hit of chemicals, rancid oils, hydrogenated trans fats. These have been linked to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis….
Avoiding processed and refined foods and opting to JERF will take care of these unhealthy fats and remove them from your diet.
Go forth and JERF, increasing your healthy fats!