Are there any healthy fats?
WikimediaImages / Pixabay – Are there any healthy fats?

True or False – Fats are bad for your health. Avoid them at all costs. That’s why you see so many ‘fat-free’, ‘reduced-fat’, ‘very low fat’ products. In fact, a recent check using the search term ‘fat-free’ gave me an archive of 4,667 fat-free and very low-fat recipes.

The FDA allows manufacturers to claim ‘fat-free’ on their food product labels if the levels of fats are less than 0.5 grams of trans fat or less per serving. If you don’t know how to read food labels, a product might have multiple servings per package. Eating the entire product might yield several grams of fat.

We don’t gain belly fat by eating fat. Fat does not cause fat to accumulate in our bodies. Excess carbohydrates cause excess fats to be stored. Our bodies convert carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). This glucose is converted to glycogen and stored in our muscles. When we need energy, the glycogen acts like gasoline in a car’s engine. However, if we eat more carbohydrates than we use, then the excess carbohydrates are stored as fat.

Our bodies need dietary fat for good health. It is interesting how certain beliefs are introduced into our society without any real testing to verify the claims of those nutrients. One example is coconut and palm oil. In the 1980s, there was a claim (unsubstantiated – no testing done, just a plain statement) that coconut and palm oil were saturated plant oils; and, therefore, acted like saturated animal oils and were bad for our health. There was absolutely no testing done. It was a position taken by certain companies. It was later supported by the government. Follow the money to find the real story.

In the 1940s, scientists believed that high-fat diets caused heart disease. They found a correlation between high-fat diets and high cholesterol. Correlation does not mean causation. Just because something is like something else, it doesn’t mean that it caused it. It just means that there is some similarity. For high-risk cardiac patients, it was believed that a low-fat diet might reduce their risk heart disease.

Therefore, some companies convinced the medical community that a low-fat diet would reduce the risk of heart disease. Was there any testing? No! By the 1960s, the low-fat diet regime expanded into our whole society. If it was good for high-risk heart patients, it would be good for everyone. These companies (along with several new ones) claimed that low-fat diets would cause patients to lose weight because fat was fat. Reduce fat and we reduce weight. We know today that fat doesn’t cause us to be fat – carbohydrates do.

In the 1980s, this low-fat doctrine permeated every aspect of our health and medical communities (physicians, the federal government, food industry, health professionals, media, etc.). In the subsequent decades, we have seen Americans get fatter and develop more heart problems while adhering to the low-fat diet. We have actually created an obesity epidemic. This epidemic is not totally caused by low-fat eating, but it has contributed.

Just when I thought there was lots of data refuting the saturated plant fats are dangerous I find that doctors are still telling their patients to avoid coconut oil because it is a saturated fat. My daughter mentioned this to me. A good friend of hers related a conversation she had with her physician during her last annual physical. She asked her doctor about the health benefits of coconut oil. Her doctor told her to avoid coconut oil completely. It was dangerous for her health.


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