This week's post is meant to help make sense of the info swirling about in regards to fat. Don't be wary, my friend. Go full fat.
I have talked about fat quite a bit in this here blog series, the Monday Health Basics. So today will act part fat-roundup, part explanation on why you need to ditch the zero percent and go full fat.
Why They Went Low Fat
Many a year ago, the food industry took a bit of a left turn, based on evidence from a study led by Ancel Keys. This study, “the lipid hypothesis” (erroneously) found that saturated fat was at the root of heart disease. The trouble is, this study was never able to be replicated in laboratories, not even remotely. In fact, many studies since have refuted Keys' original claims, outlining that in fact saturated fats are protective to not only the heart, but also the liver.
There is an interesting article that recently came out about the role the Sugar Industry played in this whole scenario. NPR did a comprehensive round up of the information; I urge you to read this article. See, in helping to influence the national debate and persuade their nation's population to eat low fat in order to (again, erroneously) ensure health, the fat that was taken out of foods would have to be replaced by something else. Can you guess what this would be?
Yes yes, sugar. Consumption of sugar after the 'low fat' craze first exploded went up a third per person than what was consumed prior to these claims surrounding low fat. (It's one of the main reasons I argue we should Just. Eat. Real. Food., in order to reduce additives and hidden sugars.) And too much sugar? It contributes to inflammation in the body.
As you can imagine, in the days following the 'low fat! 0%!' craze, sugar intake went up, fat intake went down. Funny though, average weight per person did not go down; in fact, quite the opposite. The rate of chronic diseases went up, occurrences of diseases with an inflammatory component went up and are still on the rise. (For a more comprehensive and lengthy look at the importance of including fat in your diet, please visit this article I posted previously, “eat good fats”. Further reading: it is no surprise that I am a big believer in butter. Yes please, eat butter. Put that s**t on everything. Need more convincing on the importance of including good fats in your diet? Let's talk anti-inflammation with EFAs.)
The main idea of why fat is important
Why then, do we need fats? The Coles Notes: for the fat-soluble vitamins found within, vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means we need them to be attached to fat in order to get them in to our bodies. (If you are interested in reading up on the importance of including these all important vitamins, head to this article for a comprehensive look.) And it is these important vitamins that we need in order to reduce inflammation in the body, and maintain cell wall integrity in the gut. These nutrients go miles in helping balance hormones, better supplying fuel to our brain and adrenals and ensure an even keel for your body. They are essential.
The fat component of these foods is also critical in again helping balance our blood sugars, which goes miles in keeping inflammation at bay. These fats supply the ingredients we need to make all of our hormones, support brain health, protect our hearts and livers, balance hormones and the list goes on.
Let's get down to the nitty gritty. Most of the foods we are talking about in today's post are dairy products from the grocery store: think milk, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, cheese, cream, kefir, cream cheese, etc.
This rule though also applies to other commonly purchased ingredients: salad dressing, mayonnaise for starters. There are quite a few packaged items that are now coming out with 'low fat!' claims or '0 fat!' claims.
My recommendation to you is to ditch the low fat version and reach for the one on the shelf indicating a higher fat percentage.
Instead of the 1% cottage cheese, find the 5%! If skim or 1% milk is what your family drinks, aim to move up the fat percentage over time. Can you start with 2%, and go up to 3.25% over time?
Get rid of the 0% ice cream; they just rounded out the taste of the ice cream with more sugar. Yes, that's right: flavour, as we experience it, is locked in fat and sugar. Take one of those away, and you have to up the other!
Using 5% cream in your coffee in the mornings? Consider going a higher percentage. Whipping cream! Why not? You'll only need a little bit. I put whipping cream in my morning cuppa. In fact, I have a whole write up on how fat can be of service if you're a regular coffee drinker; find that article here.
Love that store bought greek yogurt, but now realizing it's 0%? Learn to make your own, using full fat yogurt. Head to this article for the how-to.
I know a few readers will think they're scott free seeing as their houses do not have any dairy in the fridge. I urge you to reconsider any packaged food items with 'low fat' claims; think mayonnaise jars with 'low fat' promises, 'fat free' salad dressings. The reason we add real fats to our salads? The reason we use real olive oil and delicious vinegars to our salads? Those fats ensure we are better able to absorb the minerals found in the vegetables of said salad. Head over to this article to get the lowdown on how to make your own salad dressing – a surefire way to up that nutritional ante and support optimal health.
Want to learn to make your own mayo at home, without the rancid oils found in the jars at the store? I will point you to this easy recipe.
If you are someone who regularly consumes more egg whites and less yolks because of the fat content, I urge you to reconsider. Eat the whole egg, yolk and all. In addition to the good fats found in the yolks, you may be interested to know of the vitamin content of the yolks. Read up on eggs at this article I wrote a few months back.
And so my kitten, repeat after me.
Ditch the skim. Go Full Fat.
Now go play with your food.