The Truth About Fat In Your Diet

Eating fat makes you fat, right? If this is what you think, you’re wrong. But it’s not your fault — it’s probably what you were led to believe.

Actually, unsaturated fats, like those found in plant-based oils, nuts and fatty fish, are good for you because they help protect you from heart disease, help you maintain a healthy weight and even have some superficial benefits for your skin and hair.

But there’s a lot of confusion out there about the role dietary fat plays in our lives, and it’s no wonder we’re mixed up about it.

The History

Starting around 1980, top nutrition experts and the federal government advised all Americans to dramatically cut back on dietary fat to avoid heart disease and weight gain.

Back in the day, notes NPR, these experts wanted us to replace dietary fats — from olive oil to butter to nuts — with healthy carbohydrates, like whole grains, vegetables and fruits. This was based on well-meaning but misleading research that showed a correlation between diets high in fat and people with high cholesterol levels in their blood.

But of course, people didn’t really replace big, juicy steaks with more vegetables. Instead, food companies co-opted this “low fat” message, creating high-sugar, low-nutrient snacks and foods that technically fit the low-fat bill but were anything but healthy. Anyone who recalls chowing down on Snackwell’s fat-free Devil’s Food Cookie Cakes will remember this era.

The Message Today

Now, more than three decades later, Americans are heavier and have more heart disease than ever before, and researchers suspect that when we replaced that fat in our diets with sugar and refined starch, it led to increased obesity and metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Both of —> Read More