When I moved to the United States from Belgium 12 years ago, I was astounded at the amount and the variety of fat-free products filling the supermarkets, and at how many obese people I saw every day. As a nutritionist, I noticed that people, especially women, were obsessed with not eating any fats. No wonder, considering the media was full of stories about how bad fat was for you, without making any distinction between good fats and bad fats. The food industry jumped on the trend, marketing numerous products that featured the magic words: “FAT-FREE”. Millions of women fell in the trap and America saw a leap in anorexia, bulimia and surprisingly, a huge increase in obesity. On top of that, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, allergies, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases were on the rise as well. One of the biggest myths sabotaging the health of millions of Americans is the idea that low-fat and fat-free foods are healthy. Unfortunately today many people still believe it because of the power of public opinion.
Facts about fat and your health
Fats are a concentrated source of energy, building material for cell membranes and for all the steroidal hormones. Healthy fats support the immune system, the nervous system and normalize liver function. Fats play a vital role in the health of our bones, help maintain heart function and normalize digestive flora. Fats keep the skin smooth and radiant and are crucially important for healthy brain function. When you eat fats as part of your meal, they can go longer without feeling hungry. They act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for many other biological processes.
What about saturated fats, which you’ve always heard are so bad? Saturated fats, in moderate amounts, are not only good for you, they are necessary for optimal health. The belief that saturated fat will increase your risk of heart attacks is simply NOT true. A 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which included 21 studies relating to the risks of heart disease, stroke and saturated fats, found that:
“… there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) or CVD (stroke and cardiovascular disease).” Saturated fats, from animal and vegetable sources, provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones that are essential to your health.
More Omega-3 fats, less Omega-6 fats Where we generally get in trouble with fats is in consuming too many omega-6 versus omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance increases inflammation, which is at the core of most disease. We typically have a ratio of 20:1, omega 6 vs. omega 3, which ideally should be more like 2:1. It is crucially important to balance omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with our foods so they can work together to promote excellent health.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in:
• Wild caught fish: tuna – salmon – halibut
• Organic, grass-fed beef: (not grain-fed beef ), lamb, bison, venison
• Free range eggs
• Walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds
Omega-6 essential fatty acids are found abundantly in processed foods and refined grains. So eating less processed food and white flour products is a good idea. Another kind of fat, Omega-9 fatty acid is found in avocados, olives, olive oil and macadamia nuts.
Fats you should avoid at all cost: Man-made trans fats and rancid, refined polyunsaturated fats (hydrogenated) in vegetable oils and margarine, also found in most processed foods. They are only one molecule away from plastic!
For your health, it’s vital to interrupt the mass indoctrination about fat, and go with the real facts that will support your health forever.
A certified Clinical Nutritionist and Personal Fitness Trainer, with over 30 years experience,Christi Christiaens specializes in designing nutritional programs tailored to her clients’ specific needs. You can find Christi at Enerjoy Fitness. For more on living unlimited visit People Unlimited.by