Monday, September 5, 2011

Is Fat-Free a Healthy Choice?

I am a big advocate of reading the ingredients label on the food package rather than the marketing lines plastered on the front. When the Fat-Free phase started more than 15 years ago, it sent people into a buying frenzy. Anything that was fat-free or low-fat must have been good for you... right? Wouldn't make you fat... right? Wrong!

Readers of this blog know by now that it's the sugar (or food that easily turns to sugar) that makes you fat. Not fat. In fact, fat is essential to our health. That's why they call it essential fatty acids (Omega-3, Omega-6, Omega-9 EFAs).

Interesting how America has gotten fatter and fatter ever since the fat-free phase started. It drove people to think they were doing the right thing when they purchased a food that said Fat-Free. Folks emptied the aisle of cookies labeled Fat-Free... remember SnackWells?

Well... don't believe a word of their marketing lies. It's junk food—pure junk food that's going to make you fat. Period! It is processed, artificial food and mostly sugar and corn syrup.

A study by Consumer Reports found that 51% of those surveyed thought they were making a healthy choice by limiting their fat consumption. All fats are lumped into the evil category when only the artificial trans-fats (i.e., hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats) and refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils are the villains.

Saturated fats are not the villain. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported in 2010...

"… 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]."

Here are guidelines to help you re-think eating fats:
  • Eating healthy fat doesn't make you fat. Including a healthy fat as part of your meal actually slows down food absorption allowing your brain to feel full longer.
  • Saturated fats are healthy for you. Saturated fats are used to build a healthy cell structure, regulate hormones, and provide a source of energy. Fats are needed for vitamin conversions, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, mineral absorption and numeroius biological processes.
  • Never eat food fried in fat. Fats become very unhealthy for you when they become rancid or heated to high temperatures over a long period of time. Read Fats That Heal, Fats the Kill by Udo Eramus. You may love french fries, but they are reeking havoc in your body making your cells unhealthy. 
Examples of healthy foods containing saturated fats:
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Nuts
  • Coconut oil
  • Goat dairy (significantly lower in saturated fat than cow diary)
I have always shunned hydrogenated oils (mostly in margarines and many processed foods) and used butter until I switched to my cancer-fighting diet. I no longer eat cow dairy, but have increased my eating of other saturated fats like coconut oil, goat cheese, avocados and nuts.

Six steps to making healthy choices about fat:
  1. Eat saturated fat (in moderation).
  2. Avoid all foods that say Fat-Free or Low Fat on the package.
  3. Cut-back your intake of simple carbs (bread, pasta, processed snack foods), which are really making you fat.
  4. Eat a handful of nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.) in the afternoon.
  5. Eat a portion of fat at every meal.
  6. Eat whole eggs, yolk and all, preferably from free-range, organically fed chickens.
I always eat raw nuts (and organic as much as possible) not wanting to miss any of the nutrients that would be lost in roasting the nuts. Remember the fats in nuts could become unhealthy by the heating that's done to them.

I've tried to cover everything with the basics without overwhelming. I may have missed something and you probably have lots of questions, so fire away. My aim is to change your thinking so that all this is second-nature.

Questions?