There is a lot of confusion about fat in our lives! At one time I would mentally count how many grams of fat I consumed throughout the day, trying to keep it the number as low as possible. What I overlooked was how much sugar and carbohydrates I consumed!
Truthfully, I was a sugar addict who fell prey to marketing messages: margarine is good for you, skim milk is healthier, all fat is bad for you. I’m here to dispel those myths!
In his book “Food Rules” food journalist Michael Pollan says to “avoid food products with the word ‘lite’ or the terms ‘low-fat’ or ‘nonfat’ in their names.” He says this is because food producers often bump up the sugar to make up for lack of flavor, and “since the low-fat campaign began I the late 1970s, Americans actually have been consuming more than 500 additional calories per day, most of them in the form of refined carbohydrates like sugar….You’re better off eating the real thing in moderation than binging on ‘lite’ food products packed with sugars and salt.” –Food Rules, Pollan, 2011
I made the switch from nonfat to full-fat dairy several months ago because it seemed silly to buy nonfat milk AND creamer. Why not just use whole milk for both? I also use whole milk to make my own full-fat plain yogurt. It is delightful!
Not only are full-fat milk and cheese products tastier, they are also more satisfying. I find I eat / drink a lot less because I’m actually full afterward! This is important if someone is trying to lose weight!
In addition, it is important to note the different types of fat. “Know Your Fats” by Mary Enig is an excellent scientific publication that goes into great detail about each type of fat. Enig stresses that polyunsaturated fats, and even those “evil” saturated fats are important for healthy skin, eyes, and brain development. The Weston A. Price Foundation confirms this. They have done a lot of research with babies and toddlers, and found that including saturated fat in their diet is very important – they recommend first foods being egg yolks and cod liver oil. Here’s their breakdown of fats.
So if fat is good for metabolism and healthy brain function why are one-third of Americans overweight? The answer is trans-fat! Trans-fat is the bad stuff that is prevalent in highly processed foods, margarine, and fried foods. It appears on food labels as “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils” and it also lurks unlabeled in many restaurants and pot-lucks. Avoid this stuff. It is unnatural, and contributes to high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. –Know Your Fats, Enig, 2000
Ways to avoid trans-fats are by reading ingredient labels for that nasty hydrogenated stuff, cooking with coconut oil instead of refined vegetable oils, and real butter instead of margarine. Also avoiding fried foods is good idea (yes, that means french fries!) Giving up donuts is quite a sacrifice for me, but health comes first!
I know this is a complicated subject, and I’m no biochemist (but Mary Enig is!!) If you have more questions, I encourage you to check out her book and the Weston A. Price foundation. This blog by Food Matters is quite informative and goes into detail about how margarine and vegetable oil are made, and healthy alternatives for cooking.