The LCHF/banting trend that’s taken hold makes some people nervous – after all, so much fat just can’t be good for you, right? But where did we get the idea that fat was bad for people in the first place, and is it true? Let’s take a look.
It started decades ago when a Dr Key examined heart risk based on how people live and what they ate. He found that in the countries where people ate more saturated fat there were more cases of heart disease, and he concluded that the fat was the cause. But the study didn’t take sugar or starch into consideration.
Moving on to present-day research: sure, less saturated fat in your diet lowers cholesterol, but it mostly lowers fluffy, light cholesterol that does no harm. On the other hand, when people drop fat, they tend to eat more sugar or starch, and this actually increases their levels of small, dense cholesterol that causes heart attacks.
The Danger Of Going Fat-free
Another danger of turning fat into the diet bogey-man is that people eat fat-free-snacks and foods that are high in starch, sugar and/or preservatives and fake flavours – this has probably played it’s part in the increased levels of pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes in certain countries.
Good Fats Are Really Good
Some dietary rules don’t change with trends, like choosing unprocessed and whole foods will always be a better deal for your health, and the same goes for fats. These are the good-guys of the fat world:
- Nuts—walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts (one recent study showed a handful of nuts a day reduced death from all causes by 20 percent)
- Seeds such sesame, pumpkin or sunflower (if you have a sesame allergy, take care)
- Fatty fish, including sardines, snoek, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon that are rich in omega-3 fats
- Extra virgin olive oil – the ‘extra virgin’ isn’t just sales talk, it means good quality
- Butter, cream and yoghurt – look for grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products, because you’ll be looking at less hormones/chemicals in the product
- Extra virgin coconut butter
Sugar and processed starch are what make you fat, not fat. In fact, making good fats part of your balanced diet, together with other fresh and whole foods, is all part of staying healthy. And don’t forget to move your body!