fat

Fat confusion began in the 1970s in America.

Fat in our diet was villanized when the medical community in the 1970s told us to eat low-fat to protect our heart, I do not think they realized how many of us would remove most of the fat from our diet and then replace those calories/flavors with simple carbohydrates like sugar and flour.

Fat chance that this kind of advice would fly today! That’s what happened though, and because so many people try hard to eat well [when they are being “Good”] and then binge on foods [when they eat a “Cheat” meal], more than 70% of our country is now overweight.

Those who have been taught to avoid fat to lose fat have certainly heard the news that this is no longer considered unhealthy. In fact, Fat as your Friend has been the talk of the town.

Have you heard all the hoopla about how fat is now considered good for us? The “all fat is good” message is being talked about in many circles, and it is controversial at best to let these headlines fool us all into ordering up plates of deep-fried, cheese-dripping fare.

Let’s Decode the Fat

Trans Fat is found in most every processed food, as well as in fried foods and many desserts made with shortening. On food labels it is called Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, and it is, without a doubt, linked to the kind of cholesterol that is labeled Bad, also known as the LDL levels. Trans fat is also known to lower the good, or HDL levels, in your blood. Trans fat is a bad deal, all the way around.

Saturated Fat is found in foods that contain animal products, like red meat and dairy. It is also the kind of fat found in some plant foods, like coconut and palm kernel oil. Not all saturated fats are created equal, so it is good to know the differences. I personally recommend coconut oil to my clients, and even with oils that are proven to be beneficial, moderation is a good idea.

Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFAs) include the Angel Oils; the ones everyone is trying to eat more of. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, walnuts and flaxseed, as well as the Omega-6 fatty acids from corn oil. PUFAs can help you lower cholesterol, but you need to know that most Americans eat way more Omega-6 than they need to, as corn oil is widely used. Having the right balance between Omega-3 and 6 is important. Cooking at home is a vital tool in promoting healthy eating.

Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs) can be found in plant foods like nuts, avocados and olive oil. They have been proven to lower LDL levels and reduce heart attack risk. They are also delicious!

So what are we supposed to eat?

I get tired of hearing that “research has shown” this or that on a topic of vital importance, only to hear months or years later how wrong that advice was. Don’t you? That said, we need to look at the latest science coming from reputable resources*, so I have done that for both your family and mine.

Health Promoting Diet 2015: Focus on the Good

  1. Vegetables and fruit, preferably organic
  2. Beans and legumes
  3. Raw nuts and seeds
  4. Whole grains without an emphasis on wheat, which most of us are at least sensitive to
  5. Lean protein like fish, eggs, humanely raised meat, poultry and dairy
fat

This style of eating will be low in saturated fat and will drastically decrease processed foods and junk-food restaurant fare, which means that your trans-fat consumption will plummet. It also gives you a healthy amount of PUFAs and MUFAs, which the Fat for Everyone crowd are talking about. This health promoting diet contains little added sugar, no junk food (keep your occasional treats to 5% of your meals), and it will contain so many nutrients that you will feel energized and motivated to get out there and conquer your day.

The next time you feel overwhelmed when you hear someone say that they know the latest scoop on how to eat some new way, let them know that your health promoting diet in 2015 contains all the taste and goodness you need, and it will stand the test of time. It is time to focus on the good.

*Dr. David Katz is the founding director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University. Dr. Joan Borysenko is one of my favorite expert sources and the author of The Plant Plus Diet Solution, which I highly recommend.