I’m happy to say that I didn’t pay much attention to the ‘low fat’,’ fat free’ madness of the 80’s and 90’s. It didn’t make any sense to me and anyway the food they were touting tasted crap. That being said it’s bound to have got through on some levels such was the veracity of the messages coming at us from every angle. And it turns out they were wrong… very wrong…dangerously wrong!!! Lets bust some myths and Get The Skinny on Fats and Oils.
It’s about a 7 minute read, here’s a brief outline:-
- The Madness of Low Fat and Fat Free
- Why You Shouldn’t be Scared to Eat Fats and Oils
- What Fats Are Healthy
- What Fats Should We Avoid
- It’s Just Common Sense
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The Madness of Low Fat and Fat Free
In the 80s we were told that low fat and fat free was the healthiest diet and that eating fat made you fat and sick. We were advised to stop eating whole foods containing lots of fat. Saturated fat was especially demonised…👿.
On a practical level we were advised to replace whole foods containing natural fats like meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, coconut, olives and avocados with low fat or fat free alternatives like low fat/fat free dairy, we were told to cut off all fat from meat or choose lean cuts, eat low fat snacks like crisps rather than nuts. Natural fats and oils were replaced with bastardised versions of ‘plant’ oils… Well, you get the picture…you were probably there…😢
It also gave rise to the skimmed and semi skimmed milks found in our supermarkets today. This is just more unnecessary processing in which they remove all the fat from the milk and then reinject the fat to standardised proportions. Did you know that the difference in fat percentage between full fat milk and skimmed milk averages just 3%?. Read more in my recent blog post ‘Should We Eat Dairy?’
To put this advice in a nutshell, they told us to replace thousands of years of natural, nourishing tradition and wisdom with grotesquely processed, Frankenstein food that taste like sh…
and it made us sick and obese…
We were the subject of an unofficial experiment that went tragically wrong and they still won’t own up to it…
It seems that the official bodies put out this food advice based on scientific research which, upon reexamination was untested and sketchy to say the least. I know this advice came from our leading nutritional bodies but they got it completely wrong and this fact is widely accepted and acknowledged now. Click here to read more.
More recently the biggest research of low fat versus traditional full fat was done in Spain. Heres a quote summarising how it went.
‘There are sadly very few of them, but the Spanish government funded the biggest study of its kind called the PREDIMED study based on 7,000 men and women aged 60 at risk of heart disease. They were randomly allocated to one of two diets: a medically approved low-fat diet without dairy or fatty meats or a high-fat Mediterranean diet with lots of cheese, yoghurt, nuts and extra virgin olive oil. The study was stopped early after five years because one diet group was dying more and had a third more diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer — you guessed it: the low-fat group.‘ (The Spectator click to read full article)
For me it’s just common sense. I don’t need a scientist to tell me I’m better off eating what Mother Nature offers us for nourishment rather than something bastardised in a factory for profit maximisation!!!
Why You Shouldn’t Be Scared To Eat Quality Fats and Oils
So, It’s now widely accepted that eating the correct types of quality fats is very healthy in fact VITAL and DOES NOT make you fat.
Fats and Oils are one of the 5 essential food groups needed to keep the human body healthy and operating satisfactorily. If you miss out on an essential food group you will eventually reap the consequences in some form of ill health. It’s inevitable
Essential means that the body NEEDS it to survive intact.
Quality Fats do not make you sick – We now know that it’s sugar, processed foods and tampered with fats and oils that are making us sick not whole food fats.
Saturated fats do not clog your arteries and cause heart disease. More on this down below…
FAT DOESNT make you fat.
In fact some evidence tends to suggest it may help with weight loss:-
- Fat makes food taste good and gives a great mouth feel making you feel content and less likely to overeat or snack between meals.
- It is also very calorific but this is a good thing because a small amount makes you feel full up, satiated and satisfied not stuffed full like a turkey.
- Because it’s so dense it takes longer (than carbohydrates) to digest so that satisfying full up feeling lasts longer thereby curbing snacking.
- Low fat versions of anything normally replace fat with sugar. Processed sugar is the main enemy of weight loss and good health not quality wholefood fats. Click here to read my recent blog post Is Sugar Bad For You.
Of course if you were to sit and eat jars of straight up coconut oil by the truck load or any fat for that matter, that would be very unhealthy and you would undoubtedly put on weight. It’s all about being sensible and eating as part of a whole food balanced diet.
What Fats Are Healthy?
All minimally processed fats and oils that derive from healthy wholefood sources are healthy.
Saturated, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats
Most foods contain a blend of these healthy dietary fats in varying proportions. i.e. most of the fat in butter is saturated but it also contains some mono and polyunsaturated fats.
but lets look closer:-
Back in the day they demonised saturated fats claiming that eating it raised cholesterol in our blood, clogged our arteries and was the leading cause of heart disease. This has been conclusively disproved
‘The link between saturated fat and heart disease has been studied intensely for decades, but the biggest and best studies show that there is no statistically significant association.” I took this quote from Healthline, click to read full article,
Evidence (and common sense) suggests that whole foods including those that are naturally high in saturated fats are very healthy and nutritious. Saturated fat is also the better choice for cooking as it is more stable at high temperatures than other fats.
Good sources of Saturated Fats
- Fatty cuts of Meats poultry (from organic, grass fed/free range sources)
- Animal fats such as lard and tallow (from organic grass fed sources)
- Whole fat dairy (from organic, grass fed sources)
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated ‘Fats
You’ll find these healthy fats in abundance in whole natural foods like:-
- Nuts and Seeds
- Fish and shellfish
- Olives and Olive Oil
Click her for a great article all about monounsaturated fats.
The best way to eat fat is in it’s natural container.
This is the natural way and it will always best way to deliver nutritional benefits to your body. So for example
Get your avocado oil by eating an avocado…
or your healthy animal fats from eating a piece of meat…
or your coconut oil by eating coconut…
For the amazing benefits of fish oil eat fatty fish like salmon, mackerel or sardines…
Get the nutty benefits of seed and nut oil by eating nuts and seeds…
It just makes sense…
However, sometimes you do need to use pure fats or oils for eating, dressing or cooking so here’s my recommendations.
Best for Cooking as can tolerate high temperatures. Hard fats such as:-
- Coconut Oil. (Extra virgin, cold pressed, organic is best)
- Butter (make your own with quality cream, click for more, Kerrygold is the best mainstream variety as their cows are mainly grass-fed)
- Animal fats such as lard, tallow, poultry fats. (from quality sources, ie organic and grass fed or free range, all available online or make your own)
Great for pouring as salad dressings but not good for cooking as the oil is damaged at high temperatures.
- Olive Oil – Organic, cold pressed extra virgin
- Rapeseed oil – Organic, cold pressed, extra virgin
- Avocado oil – organic, cold pressed extra virgin
In truth you are looking for anything pure with minimal processing.
What Fats Should We Avoid?
It’s now well established that it was/is in fact the new Frankenstein like ultra processed liquid ‘vegetable’ oils and manufactured hard fats (trans fats) that were/are the cause of heart disease and many modern day illness.
Nature versus Profit Margin…Choose which one you trust…
This is what the Weston Price Foundation has to say,
‘Humans need saturated fats because we are warm blooded. Our bodies do not function at room temperature, but at a tropical temperature. Saturated fats provide the appropriate stiffness and structure to our cell membranes and tissues. When we consume a lot of liquid unsaturated oils, our cell membranes do not have structural integrity to function properly, they become too “floppy,” and when we consume a lot of trans fat, which is not as soft as saturated fats at body temperature, our cell membranes become too “stiff.”
Weston Price Foundation is a non profit making charity, founded in 1999 ‘The Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism.’ Click here to read more about them.
So… Avoid At All Costs
If you take one thing from this post let it be this, Trans Fats are lethal!!!
Trans Fats are manufactured fats often found in processed foods:-
- Vegetable oils and shortenings
- coffee creamers (dairy and non dairy)
- Ice cream
- Crisps and packet savoury snacks
- Ready to use dough
- Fried fast foods
nb. there is a small amount of natural trans fats found in some whole foods, this is not a cause for concern. It’s the manufactured trans fats that are dangerous.
Check the Label
Trans fats have been totally banned in the whole of the USA and Canada. Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and Iceland have also implemented a total ban.
Unfortunately it’s still in our food supply here in the UK and much of Europe. At present it is not clearly labelled as trans fats. Look for and avoid ingredients like ‘mono and diglycerides of fatty acids’ and ‘partially hydrogenated oils or hydrogenated oils’.
Uk food manufacturers have volunteered to cut trans fat out of their products and this appears to be slowly happening but there are still many products which include them.
The easiest way to avoid trans fat is to quit processed food. Click here Read more about this in my recent blog post.
Also Avoid processed liquid ‘vegetable’ and Polyunsaturated Seed Oils
- Processed liquid vegetable oil is full of free radicals as a result of the processing. This causes inflammation and disease.
- Some scientists and nutritionists believe we have a major imbalance of Omega 3s and Omega 6 fatty acids – For optimum health we need an equal balance of both these essential nutrients. but because of the demonisation of animal fats over the past decades it seems we now eat way too many omega 6 and way too little omega 3. This is causing imbalance, inflammation and disease.
Avoid oils like:-
- Processed vegetable oils in all guises (anything labelled vegetable oil)
- sunflower seed oil
- soybean oil
- corn oil
- cottonseed oil
- peanut oil
- sesame oil
- rice bran oil
Again I reiterate you can eat the whole product in it’s shell. Eat the sunflower seeds and the sesame seeds and the almonds etc . I personally do not eat corn or soy bean due to the farming methods and genetic modification of most of these crops.
It’s Just Common Sense
As usual it just boils down to common sense really. If we stick to what nature gave us we won’t go far wrong.
Fat and oil doesn’t make you fat if you eat it in a normal fashion as part of a wider healthy wholefood diet.
Its always best to eat the fat in its natural container, ie in an avocado, in a lamb chop, in a chicken meal, in a coconut , in an olive. It’s the safest delivery method and the surest way to reap maximum nutritional benefits.
Common sense dictates that man made never trumps nature.
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