The undeserved bad reputation of fat.


When considering what to eat, one of the more important things to be mindful of is: the ratio of macronutrients we are consuming. ‘Macronutrients’ are fats, proteins, carbohydrates. Most in my part of the world have very carb-heavy diets. High-protein diets are also very common in a country like Ireland. But, often stigmatised unfairly are diets that are unusually high in fat; saturated fats in particular.

Although we always want to be calculating in how we organise the dietary aspect of our lives, and to enjoy everything in moderation, some of the things we might have thought of as unhealthy foods, when we were young and naive, might actually be one of the cornerstones in assisting us in reaching, and maintaining, a salubrious state of well-being. The demonisation of saturated fats is one of the ill-considered notions that has been bandied about too much in the world of pseudo-nutrition the past number of generations. But, more are now coming to understand the avoidance of dietary fat as a cause for health problems, rather than the solution it was so zealously touted as in recent history.

“…new research clearly shows us that individuals eating more of the “dreaded” fat actually have a substantial risk reduction for becoming demented while those with diets favouring carbohydrates the risk for dementia dramatically increased” (1)

I was raised on a diet composed predominantly of bread, potatoes, meat, and sugar. There was fat too, but fat was always the one that seemed to give the family the most pause for thought of consideration of future degenerative health disorders. ‘Don’t use too much butter!’ ‘Don’t eat so many eggs!’ Looking back, I know that this was just my misinformed family attempting to be healthy in the wrong way.. Nowadays, I feel great when I eat a lot of fatty foods. And I know from my own experience of eating a diet high in saturated fats, that once the fats are healthy fats (such as those in eggs, coconut oil, butter, avocados, so on), and eaten with a lot of nutrient dense, unprocessed foods: they themselves will not be responsible for abnormal levels of weight-gain. Fat is the most wholesome and nourishing of all of the macronutrients!

I do not enjoy fat in my diet without shame simply because the physical brain is constituted from cholesterol, or simply because healthy brain function depends on adequate amounts of dietary cholesterol, or that the healthy function of the endocrine system also depends on adequate dietary fat intake. But, also considering what I was told for most of my life by ‘the experts’, who would have guessed that heart health is contingent on eating enough saturated fats in your diet?

“It’s true that some studies show that saturated fat intake raises blood cholesterol levels. But these studies are almost always short-term, lasting only a few weeks. Longer-term studies have not shown an association between saturated fat intake and blood cholesterol levels.”(2)

The essence of this article is essentially to let those that might be unaware, or uncertain, know that: having a considerable amount of fat in your diet is OK. What matters much more is having healthy ratios, healthy combinations of foods, and, most importantly: that the quality of the foods you ingest are to a respectable standard. You are what you eat; eat well, feel well.

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