Fat’s Bad Rap

Year’s ago scientists’ assumed -based on the misinterpretation of a compilation of studies- that eating anything with fat would lead directly to obesity and heart disease. The misleading notion assigned the sole cause of our rising cholesterol, our clogging arteries, our increasing hips and thighs, and our ample buttocks to succumbing to the evil fat.  For years many of us avoided the culprit and began to eat low-fat and fat-free foods in the attempt to lighten our load. It turns out that fat aside, America’s obesity epidemic is still on the rise. What does that say about the delectable fat that we have deprived ourselves of for decades? We are no longer perplexed, when it comes down to it; fat is an essential nutrient just like protein and carbohydrates. Your body requires it for key functions such as absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, energy sources, and keeping your skin and hair healthy. The most recent research reveals that you can have your fats and be healthy, too. The hitch is choosing the type of fats you eat; all fats are not created equal. When you divide fat into three categories the concept of which fat to consume becomes much clearer. The good, the bad and the acceptable. Starting with the good fats: monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s) are found in plant foods like avocado, olive oil and poultry. MUFA’s can lower cholesterol which will, in turn, lower your risk of heart disease. The Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) found in fatty fish will also lower your cholesterol therefore, your heart disease. In particular, omega-3 found in salmon, not to be confused with omega-6 found in meat and corn and soybean oil which American’s overeat. Our acceptable fat is the saturated fat found in meat and dairy products. This group, in particular has been on the do not eat list for years. We have been warned of its wicked ways of enticing us then raising our cholesterol levels. The most recent research has vindicated saturated fats. The latest research in a 2010 study was inconclusive in finding the link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease or stroke. For many of you knowing that your dark chocolate has been exonerated of its malevolence is a blissful thought. “The stearic-acid found in dark chocolate is clearly non-harmful” says David Katz, MD director of Yale University Prevention Research Center. The bad fat or trans fats found in fried food, processed foods, and commercial snacks foods (need I say more) is now banned from many restaurants. This antagonistic fat has been known to raise LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol-the combination which puts us at risk for heart attach and stroke. When you limit these foods, you will significantly improve your health. The best way to approach fat is embrace the good, tolerate the acceptable and avoid the bad. Simple as that.