If you’re like me, you might have grown up with the repeated message that a key to health is to avoid or limit all fats. Based on that reasoning, I cooked for years with as little butter and oil as possible thinking I was preventing weight gain or heart disease. When I first met the Burgart family at Healthy Harvest, it took some convincing that healthy fats don’t make you fat.
I began to re-learn as much about food and nutrition as I possibly could, researching the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and soaking up knowledge. Here’s what I found out:
Fat is a necessary nutrient.
According to The Westin A. Price Foundation, fats are a concentrated source of energy, and they provide the foundation for cell membranes and hormones. Additionally, when included in meals, fats slow down absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. Finally, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K,as well as with mineral absorption and other processes.
The sugar industry fought for years to fund research that demonized fat as the cause of disease to displace blame from sugar.
The documentary Sugar Coated by Michele Hozer (available on Netflix) details the sugar industry’s PR tactics to dispel years of research point to sugar as a cause of disease and obesity. With reputable Harvard professors on their payroll, The Sugar Association funded research that instead blamed fat, making the findings of both studies inconclusive.
Avoiding fat can lead to an intake of carbs and/or sugar.
For many dishes, fat is a huge source of flavor. Once you make the food low-fat, the flavor is often replaced with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Also, healthy fats like nuts, avocados, and olive oil keep you feeling fuller longer. Many sources suggest people tend to replace fats with carbs and sweets.
Large-scale, long-term studies actually linked a high-vegetable-fat Mediterranean diet to weight loss
A recent study published in the journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology reports that “a long-term intervention with an unrestricted-calorie, high-vegetable-fat Mediterranean diet was associated with decreases in bodyweight and less gain in central adiposity (circumference) compared with a control diet. These results lend support to advice not restricting intake of healthy fats for bodyweight maintenance.”
Since adding a significant amount of pure, extra virgin olive oil to my diet (I take a shot in the morning and use at least 1-2 tbsp in 2-3 meals a day), I have not noticed weight gain, but instead have observed better digestion, less inflammation, and less snacking. Tell us your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for our next article explaining the high fat Ketogenic diet and why athletes are using it to see performance gains and quicker recovery.