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Fats of Life

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The Fats of Life                        

Confused or undecided about fat free diets and types of fat?   Join the club.

Evidence shows that lower fat diets are healthier than diets higher in fat.  (The American Heart Association recommends that a diet include no more that 30 percent of calories from fat.)  But that's not the bottom line.   Actually, there is so much disagreement and speculation out there that it's obvious the whole story isn't in yet on fats in the diets.  Here's some facts and theories for your consideration:

  • The type of fat you consume has an effect on your health.   Animal fats are the worst kind.  Dr. Pritikin and others recommend you trim meats of all visible fat and limit meat in the diet.
  • Egg yolks contain fat and cholesterol.  They also contain many essential nutrients.   Should you eat them?  Probably in moderation if your bad cholesterol isn't too high.   In Canada, consumers can buy eggs especially high in Omega 3, possibly the most valuable of the nutrients egg yolks contain, and in the USA, from Eggland's Best..  
  • Vegetable fats from nuts, soy, flax seed and others are probably the healthiest of all and a vital source of fat-soluble vitamins, omega 3 and other nutrients. 
  • There are those, however,  who claim that fat free diets are very healthy and can actually reverse plaque deposits and blockages in the blood vessels.
  • Total fat free diets, such as those proposed by some diet drink companies and using their product, have been linked to increased gall bladder attacks.
  • People that diet by cutting almost all fat out of their diet and buying fat-free snacks often consume more calories that as if they ate the fat (it's hard to fool Mother Nature, isn't it?) and fail to lose weight.
  • Most pediatric experts and dieticians agree that children need some fat in their diet for healthy development.
  • There is mounting evidence that hydrogenated fats, present in most processed foods, may be very harmful. 
  • For a technical discussion of good fats and bad fats, try "The Fats of Life" by Elizabeth Austin.   (This is an expired link which may become inactive.)
  • The highly advertised "fake fats" or fat substitutes may taste and feel like real fat, but are they healthy?  The final word isn't in, but they can cause bloating and diarrhea, and certainly most will  remove some oil-soluble vitamins from your body.   Check "Brave New Fats" (This is an expired link which may become inactive.) for descriptions of such items.  So far, it seems the public hasn't latched onto them in the numbers that the manufacturers had hoped.
  • Almost every year a different oil is suggested as the healthiest one.  Latest idea is that one should use olive oil in place of most others, including the popular canola oil to emulate the Mediterranean diet.

Are you confused yet?  

Consensus:  eat very little fat, mostly olive oil and fats from fish and seeds.   Don't overdo on meat, poultry or eggs.  Hope for the best.  And if you love sour cream like I do, or some other fatty treat, try to use it in moderation and make up for it elsewhere in your diet.

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