Are you afraid of fat?
We’ve been conditioned to think fat is bad. In 1992 the USDA released the infamous food pyramid to attempt to illustrate a healthy diet. On the bottom level of the pyramid are bread, cereal, rice and pasta, also known as carbohydrates. On the very top of the pyramid they conveniently combine fats and oils with sweets and the recommendation reads, “Use Sparingly.” Somewhere in the middle in more or less equal amounts are meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables.
Being the largest section of the pyramid, the bottom level represents the food group that you should eat the most of – 6-11 servings a day to be exact. SIX TO ELEVEN SERVINGS OF BREAD AND PASTA A DAY?? These guidelines have played a huge role in launching our country into the despairs of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and auto immune disease that we are so familiar with. We are fatter and sicker than ever and wondering why because, after all, we took the advice!
We now know that a major contributor to obesity and disease is high blood sugar. Eating refined carbohydrates spikes your blood sugar which causes a spike in insulin, the hormone that is used to get sugar out of the blood and into the cells (1). Insulin also promotes fat storage. Chronic spikes in blood sugar cause a dysregulation in our satiating hormones, making us feel hungry more often. These spikes in blood sugar are followed by extremely low blood sugar which make us tired and hungrier. Chronically high blood sugar contributes to insulin resistance, leptin resistance (a hormone that makes you feel satiated) , type 2 diabetes, inflammation, cancer and other diseases. On top of that, sugar and refined carbs are highly addictive.
Now we know why it’s not favorable to your health to be eating 11 servings of carbs a day, let’s get back to the topic of fat. One myth that is widely believed is that eating fat makes you fat. Not only does fat nourish our bodies and our brains in multiple ways, it doesn’t spike our blood sugar and provides our body with sustaining energy that keeps us full longer.
Another myth people believe is that cholesterol and saturated fat lead to heart disease. Cholesterol is used in countless biochemical processes in the body including the production of hormones. Even our cell membranes are made of cholesterol. In most people, consumption of cholesterol doesn’t have a long term effect on cholesterol regulation in the body (2). A meta-analysis was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in March 2014 that studied over a half a million people and found that people who eat more saturated fat had no more heart disease than people who ate less (3). In 2015 the US dietary guidelines committee removed every restriction on dietary fat and even claimed “Cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern for overconsumption “ (4). If you want more information about the saturated fat myth click here.
It sounds like I’m telling you to eat a lot of fat. Not all fat is created equal however, trans fats and omega 6 fats, especially when heated, are very dangerous to the body. Some examples of these are shortening, corn oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, margarine, etc. There’s actually a test you can have done to measure the ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 fats in your body. It can be very useful in determining your risk for cardiovascular events.
Food is one of the most powerful tools we have in transforming our bodies and our lives. It comes down to the quality of the food we eat, not the quantity- It’s about what you eat, not how much. We need to use food to provide the body what it needs to create and sustain its own health. We can start by transforming our views about fat.
Ideally, buy organic, grass fed and pasteur raised:
Saturated Fat (buy organic and grass fed/pasteur raised): Coconut oil, palm oil, butter, ghee, other animal fat like duck fat, tallow and full fat dairy, eggs, and seafood.
Unsaturated Fat (buy extra -virgin and cold-pressed): Olive oil, sesame oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, nuts and seeds and their butters. You should try not to cook with these oils as they are unstable at high heats.
Man made fats and refined seed oils are NOT good for you. These include: Margarine, buttery spreads, canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, rice bran oil, shortening made from these oils, grapeseed oil and rapeseed oil.