Myths About Fat
Fat. I can’t think of any other dietary issue that elicits so much confusion and negative feelings and is so misrepresented and misunderstood. The fact is that “fat” has become synonymous with a curse word. It’s seen as a dietary evil that must be avoided at all costs.
I’m not usually one to take a very strong, polarizing position on issues, but here’s the thing…that attitude towards dietary fat is flat out wrong. In fact, fat is a very important, essential part of our diet. The most valuable thing to remember is that it’s the quality of fat that can either positively or negatively impact our health.
Now, let me get off my soapbox and help clarify a few facts about fat!That attitude towards dietary fat is flat out wrong. Click To Tweet
Myth: Fat makes you fat.
Fact: There have been numerous large scale studies, some looking at nearly 90,000 participants from around the world for almost 10 years, that have produced evidence to the contrary. In fact, most of these studies have indicated that a high fat/low carbohydrate diet is a much more effective way to lose weight than a low-fat diet. Sugar, alcohol and grain consumption appear to play a much bigger role in weight gain than dietary fat.
While the type of fat (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated) doesn’t seem to matter, quality does. It is best to avoid highly processed, oxidized and partially or fully hydrogenated fats – more on this below.
Myth: Cholesterol is always bad for you.
Fact: Cholesterol is absolutely essential for our health and is the bases for many hormones, especially our sex hormones, as well as Vitamin D production in our body (side note: Vitamin D is required for every single function in the human body!). Cholesterol even makes up about 25% of our brain.
Most people know LDL as the “bad” cholesterol and HDL as “good” cholesterol, but we require both and research indicates that even LDL may not be as bad for us as we originally thought. It is interesting to note that while cholesterol is often thought of as playing a role in heart disease, countries with the highest cholesterol intake have the lowest rates of heart disease. It is only oxidized (damaged) cholesterol that negatively affects our heart. Oxidized cholesterol comes from rancid oils or oils that have been cooked/processed at high heat (i.e. vegetable oil, canola, corn, cottonseed and soybean oils, margarine).
Myth: Saturated fat is bad for your health.
Fact: Like cholesterol, saturated fat has a bad reputation. However, saturated fat is the preferred fuel source for our brains, offers structure to our cells, carries our essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and increases levels of HDL, or “good”, cholesterol.
As mentioned before, it is oxidized or damaged fats that pose the biggest risk to our heart and health. Saturated fat is far more stable and less susceptible to oxidation than the more delicate poly- and monounsaturated fats, making saturated fats better choices for cooking.
Now that we’ve cleared a few things up, let me suggest some healthy fats to enjoy: avocado, raw nuts and seeds (avoid peanuts…they’re high in toxins and mold), organic grass-fed butter, raw coconut oil, eggs (eat the yolks!!), wild pacific salmon and extra virgin olive oil (only use at very low to no heat).
While dietary fats should definitely be included in your diet, for optimal health it is also important to incorporate plenty of fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens, into your meals every single day, eliminate all refined and artificial sweeteners, drink sufficient water daily and exercise on a regular basis.
Dr. Mercola, “New Science Destroys the Saturated Fat Myth.” www.mercola.com
Dr. Robert Rowen, “Dr. Robert Rowen Talks About Cholesterol and Statins.” www.mercola.com
- Hession, et al., “Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials of Low-Carbohydrate vs. Low-Fat/Low-Calorie Diets in the Management of Obesity and its Comorbidities.” Vol. 10.1. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2008.00518.x
Paleo Leap, “Why Cholesterol Is Not Bad.” paleoleap.com/cholesterol-is-not-bad
Reuters, “Fat In Diet Won’t Affect Weight Gain Over Time.” www.reuters.com/article/us-fat-diet-idUSTRE5BA3C920091211
- Ravnskov, et al. “Lack of an Association or an Inverse Association Between Low-Density-Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Mortality in the Elderly: A Systemic Review.” Vol. 6.6. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010401
Udo Erasmus, “Fats That Heal Fats That Kill.” Books Alive.