Remember when R.E.M. and Nirvana jammed on your radio as you drove your Saturn to the grocery store to snag a bag of Olestra laced potato chips and non-fat fro-yo? Beanie Babies, Grunge, Furby, fanny packs and FAT-FREE were all the rage, right? But back then, had you ever heard of ‘Good Fat’?
That was the 90’s. We’re almost two decades into a new millennium. Time and a ton of research show us eating fat will not make you fat. Yes, over-eating anything can lead a body to store excess fat. However, eating certain kinds of fat in moderate amounts boosts overall health and the body’s ability to regulate weight.
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Seriously, scientists have found eliminating all fats from one’s diet is detrimental to health. Some studies linked the fat-free craze to a surge in obesity since a no-fat/more carbs model led people to consume more sugar. But, more importantly, many studies show that there is such a thing as good fat, fat that can be beneficial to the body.
A kick butt cardiovascular or strength workout is only as good as your ticker and the mind-body connection. The American Heart Association is only one of many science-based organizations urging people not to avoid fats altogether, but rather to eat good fats that boost both body and brain function. Some health boosting vitamins (like Vitamins A, D, and E) are better absorbed when consumed with fat.
Good Fat and Bad Fat Defined
Good fats include polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and omega fatty acids. Bad fats are trans fat and saturated fats and should be consumed rarely, if at all.
Consuming good fats can alter cholesterol levels in a positive way by increasing the level of HDL in the blood and reducing the level of LDL build-up in arteries. In addition to promoting heart health, consuming good fat reduces the risk for certain diseases and promotes better brain function. Bad fats can increase the risk of disease.
Canola, corn, soybean and olive oils all have good fat. There’s no set limit on how much of these oils to consume. Of course, you wouldn’t want to drink a cup of oil, but most experts agree you should feel free to cook with those oils and limit overall fat intake to 20-35 percent of your total daily calories.
Fatty fish like sardines, salmon, tuna, trout, and others have brain boosting, heart friendly omega-3 fatty acids. The recommendation is to consume these a couple of times a week to give your body a boost since your body doesn’t naturally produce omega fatty acids.
Also, certain seeds and nuts (like flax, chia, and walnuts) are rich in monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids. Even some vegetables, like avocados, have healthy monounsaturated fat.
The Bottom Line
In order to maintain control over the size of your bottom (‘cause who knows when fanny packs might come back in-style) don’t fear fat! Just pay attention to what kind of fat you consume and go for the good stuff.