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Why No Fat is No Good

Just when I thought the “no fat” craze was over, I listened to two women talk about what they had for mother’s day brunch and it was all about “no fat waffles, egg white omelets with no fat cheese….blah blah blah”. While I never impart my opinion/knowledge on those who don’t solicit me for it, I did have a few private eye rolls at this one. There is actually not that much to say about why processed and no fat foods are a silly idea so I am going to simplify it for you. Because fat-free cookies, cheese, chips, and crackers are missing the critical fat that makes us feel full, we often eat double or even triple the usual portion. Since the manufacturers dump a shit ton of extra sugar into these foods to make them taste even palatable, we end up eating just as many calories, if not more.  In order to make a food that naturally has some fat in it become no fat, we end up creating a product loaded with sugar, refined carbohydrates and calories. Dietary disaster. So we do need fat. But we need the right kinds of fats and not all fats are created equal. The good guys are unsaturated fats: monounsaturateds  found in foods like olive oil and avocados, and polyunsaturateds found in sunflower and corn oils, among others, and in the omega-3s in salmon and walnuts. Both types are worth eating because they've been shown to lower blood cholesterol and the risk for heart disease. The bad guys are saturated fats. Saturated fat, which is present in meat, dairy, and some plant products, increases our total cholesterol and chance for heart disease and stroke. Trans fat, one that you find in packaged goods and fast food, is another bad guy: It not only ups our LDL cholesterol but also lowers our HDL cholesterol (the kind that helps lower bad cholesterol). Even though some fats are better or worse, it is important to watch your intake of it; moderation is key but please don’t get caught in this kookoo craze about removing all fat. We NEED fat to allow our bodies to transport, store and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. An absence of fat might mean we become deficient in these vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins help to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting, and the nervous system. Fat provides insulation and a protective cover for vital organs. Essential fatty acids from omega-3 and omega-6 fats cannot be made by your body, so the only way we can obtain them is through diet. Dull, lifeless hair and dry skin can be a sign that you may not be getting enough of these fats. Remember to limit your fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of your calories and to choose "good" fats whenever possible; nuts, olive oil or sunflower oil, salmon, avocado, grapeseed oil; take your pick. And don’t be afraid to indulge once in a while with the devilish fats like hard cheeses and ice cream; a little bit goes a long way and if you can practice moderation with these things, go for it! Just don’t spread the cheese all over a no fat cracker J  

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