Debunking Myths about Dietary Fat

avocado-and-nutsI used to feel guilty when eating avocado, seeds or nuts, which are some of my favorite foods. But now I eat them daily because I learned that dietary fat is a necessary component of our diet.

Marketing ploys and other misinformation led me to believe that you should avoid high fat foods and that fat-free foods are actually better for you. I now know that I was making the wrong choices and hurting my body as a result of feeding into these myths.

Myth #1: You should avoid foods with a high fat content

Myth #2: Fat-free foods are better for you

I’m busting both of these myths with the same facts:

  1. Your tongue and mouth have sensors that detect the fat content of your food. Fat in your meals positively signals your brain, independently from your taste buds. It helps you to feel satisfied from your food.[1]  [2]
  2. Dietary fat has even been shown to reduce the development of cardiovascular disease in overweight people. [3]
  3. Your liver and skeletal muscles are positively affected by higher unsaturated fat intake.[4]
  4. Foods marketed as fat-free tend to also be highly-processed, which makes them difficult to digest

Meanwhile, foods that are high in saturated fats are, indeed, bad for your health. Not only can saturated fat intake boost the chances of developing chronic heart disease or cancer, but it can also weaken your reproductive health.[5] So you should avoid foods with high saturated fat content, which include certain types of meat and dairy like bacon, ribs, ground and corned beef, fried chicken, roasted ham, cheese and whole milk (link to dairy post). Choose lean meats to avoid high saturated fat content. Other foods high in saturated fat are processed foods, especially those that contain certain oils and butter. Even coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat! As is palm oil and cocoa butter.[6]

Unsaturated fat, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, is beneficial to your health. Eating such fat helps decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes by facilitating your body’s insulin production and reducing blood sugar spikes, and reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Such fats are found in olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, and plant-based foods like avocados and nuts.[7]

Every body craves fat because it is an essential part of our diet and historically it was in short supply. Nowadays there is an abundance of it, and the oversupply of saturated fat is particularly troublesome for our bodies. Luckily, our hunger is satiated if we add in moderate amounts of healthy fats into our daily diets.

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