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Is Fat Good or Bad For You

Updated on August 8, 2015
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It has long been taught that fats were bad for your health and that the best ways to lose weight was to avoid fatty foods. This belief was strengthened by the medical fraternity who launched a very effective national campaign to get people to lower their cholesterol by lessening the amount of saturated fat they consumed.

Bad fats were always closely associated with high cholesterol and staying healthy meant eating less fat. Consumers bought into the idea and today fat is still considered a bad thing even as governments, the media and health official continue to warn citizens about the negative effects of fat on health.

Fat and Cholesterol

But is all this hype about fat really true? Not quite. Previously, high cholesterol was blamed on the consumption of saturated fats which were thought to have more calories than other types of food. But guess what? Since then there has been a decrease in cholesterol and the consumption of saturated fats and still there is still the problem of obesity.

This discovery has resulted in a re-examination of previous held beliefs that linked fat to cardiovascular diseases. More recent studies have shown that when saturated fats are taken out of people's diet, they tend to consume more refined calories which create another health problem called atherogenic dyslipidemia. This condition, among other things, increases triglycerides which create the risk of heart disease. What this means is that it was not the saturated fats themselves that were directly responsible for cardiovascular disease, but quite possibly, the larger quantities of processed carbohydrates which people ate as a substitute for fat.

So What Are We to Do about Fat?

These findings led to a shift in thinking about the relationship between fat, high cholesterol and heart disease. Based on these new developments, it is now believed that there is not enough proof to conclusively connect them and so more detailed studies need to be done on the matter.

Some health experts now insist that the amount of fat consumed may have little to do with one's health as an individual, and so the important thing is for us to avoid eating unhealthy refined and processed foods. Instead, we should choose healthier foods like nuts, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and vegetable oils.

Also, we should be wary of foods labeled as low fat because they usually make consumers feel that they can eat more because you assume “low fat" means lesser calories. An often overlooked benefit of fat is that it satisfies hunger for a longer period and so causes us to eat less.

So Whither with Fat?

Despite these recent discoveries, it is going to be very difficult to reverse much of the previous negative ideas about fat. Since more is yet to be learned about this food group, and it is now known that fat can be either good or bad, depending on its source, health experts recommend substituting mono and polyunsaturated fats for saturated ones and eating more nuts, fish and avocado.

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