When low-fat dairy products and desserts filled supermarket shelves in the 1980s, fat got a bad rep. Uber-processed, sugar-laden low-fat alternatives were deemed healthier than their full-fat counterparts… and the low-fat craze took hold in full force!
Fat has been completely and utterly misunderstood ever since. There’s a huge misconception that fat, in all its forms, leads to obesity, heart disease and stroke. Science doesn’t back these claims anymore, meaning this deep-rooted fear of fat is totally unfounded.
Nutritionists now widely agree that fat is essential for good health and that eating the right fats can actually help with weight loss. Curious? Let’s take a closer look…
The truth about fat
This entrenched fear of fat stems from the diet-heart hypothesis back in the 1950s. Nutrition researchers stated that a diet high in saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, which could then lead to heart disease.
Based on these ideas, dietary guidelines, including the infamous ‘Eatwell’ plate and food pyramid, were developed. They encouraged people to follow a low-fat diet — specifically, reducing their saturated fat consumption — in a bid to lower cholesterol, tackle obesity and reduce rates of heart disease.
What happened? Well, lots of people did indeed cut right back on saturated fats. But instead of filling the gap with healthy unsaturated fats, they ate more sugar-packed, low-fat diet products and highly-processed carbs. They also chose low-fat dairy over natural and nutritious high-fat dairy.
As you’d expect, the end result was — and still is — not favourable for obesity or heart health. Obesity rates have increased. Heart disease numbers have increased. Type-2 diabetes rates have increased, too. Most experts blame these unintended consequences on the increase of sugar, packed, carb-heavy processed foods, and the decrease of healthy fats, in the diet.
Why you should stop fearing fat
Dietary fats are essential for good health. Fat is a major source of energy. Your body needs it to perform its basic functions. Fat helps your brain to function effectively, supports cell growth, transports essential vitamins through the bloodstream, keeps your skin healthy and much, much more. Your body needs fat.
Eating healthy fats can also help with weight loss. Fat takes a while to digest, which helps to decrease appetite and hunger. In addition, by eating more fat and fewer carbohydrates, your body burns your fat stores for fuel. In other words, eating adequate amounts of fat can be highly beneficial when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.
Read more about why fat won’t make you fat.
Healthy fats, bad fats and the in-between…
While fat definitely isn’t the enemy, not all types of fat are equal. Fat is divided into three main categories: unsaturated, saturated and trans.
Unsaturated fats are normally referred to as ‘healthy fats’ — and for good reason! They help to keep your cholesterol in a healthy range and can decrease your risk of heart disease. Some unsaturated fats are known as ‘essential fats’. This is because your body can’t make them, so you need to get them from food.
Find them in: Purition, nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, fatty fish such as salmon, herring and sardines and tofu.
Boost your healthy fats with Purition. Made with 70% nuts and seeds.
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Saturated fat is traditionally linked to increased blood cholesterol levels and heart disease risk. But more recent studies have doubted these claims, stating that people who eat lots of saturated fat do not experience more heart disease than those who eat less.
In addition, some sources of saturated fat, such as good quality meat and full-fat dairy products, are very nutritious.
Interestingly, while a meta-analysis of 21 studies agreed that there is not enough evidence to prove that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease, they stated that replacing some saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat can.
Bottom line? Enjoy saturated fat in moderation and focus primarily on increasing your intake of unsaturated fats.
Find it in: High-fat red meats, coconut oil, cream and milk, dairy products like whole milk, cheese, butter and ice cream.
Trans fats have no known health benefits. However, they are linked to high cholesterol and a higher risk of inflammation in the body. In turn, this can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. This is the only type of fat we’d truly label as ‘bad’.
Thankfully, major British supermarkets and fast-food chains stopped using trans-fats in their products back in 2008. However, some products produced outside of the UK, such as in Europe or the US, do still contain trans-fats.
Find them in: Margarine, fried food like doughnuts, vegetable shortening, processed cakes, sweets and snack foods.
Ultimately, it’s best to focus on consuming plenty of healthy, unsaturated fat, whilst keeping saturated fat in healthy moderation.
Limit trans fats as much as you can. The good news is that most ‘bad’ trans fats are found in highly-processed foods. Therefore, if you eat mostly whole foods, it’s difficult to eat large amounts of trans fats.
Get more healthy fats with Purition
Healthy fats are an essential part of a healthy diet… and Purition can help you to eat more of them.
Purition is a unique blend of essential unsaturated healthy fats from 70% heart-healthy nuts. We’ve packed almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, whole chia seeds, sesame seeds and golden linseeds into every glass to give your body the fibre, vitamins, minerals and healthy wholefood fats it needs.
And if you’re looking to lose weight or maintain your current weight, Purition can help you reach your goals. Low in carbs but high in healthy fats, a glass of Purition a day will help your body to become more efficient at burning fat, instead of storing it.
Just add milk and blend — a convenient way to get a healthy dose of natural fats and fibre from whole food ingredients every day!