Originally published February 26 2012
The myth of the 'low-fat' diet, and why consuming healthy fats is vital to your health
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Many people today still adhere to the misguided belief that nearly all fats are bad, and that the best way to stay slim and healthy is to cut fats, whenever possible, from your diet. On the contrary, fats are an absolutely vital component of any healthy diet as they aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, as well as feed the brain, heart, liver, lungs, bones, cells and nervous system the nutrients they need to function properly.
It is widely assumed that, because they are called "fats," these substances must contribute to obesity and obesity-related illnesses like heart disease that afflict millions of people today. This is true for trans fats and certain other unhealthy fats, of course, but there are all kinds of healthy fats as well, such as coconut oil, for instance, or even animal-based fats like grass-fed butter and naturally-produced lard that can actually promote good health.
At the recent World of Healthy Flavors Conference in Napa, Calif., the myth of the low-fat diet was tackled head on by several key figures in nutrition and epidemiology, including Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard University School of Public Health (HSPH), and his colleague Dariush Mozaffarian. As part of their "Focus on Fat" panel, these experts encouraged their audience to abandon the low-fat mindset and learn about the benefits of consuming healthy fats.
Many low-fat food items contain high levels of processed salt and refined carbohydrates, they pointed out, which are added to low-fat foods to make up for the loss in taste and flavor that results from the artificial removal of fats. Both of these additives, which are devoid of their nutritional counterparts due to over-processing, are linked to numerous health problems, including obesity and heart disease.
"Low fat diets are usually high in carbohydrates, often from rapidly-digested foods such as white flour, white rice, potatoes, sugary drinks, and refined snacks. Eating lots of these 'fast carbs' can cause quick, sharp spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, and over time can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease," wrote the HSPH presenters in their presentation summary.
"High carbohydrate, low fat diets also have a negative effect on the fats and cholesterol in our blood: They raise the 'bad' blood fats (triglycerides) and they lower the 'good' blood cholesterol (HDL), both of which can increase the risk of heart disease."
Why saturated fat is good for youThe conference presenters are correct in their assessment of refined carbohydrates and processed salts -- however, they are incorrect in another key area concerning types of healthy fats. Missing the boat on the body's need for healthy saturated fats, the duo told attendees that unsaturated fats are the "healthiest type of fat," and claimed that saturated fats are "less healthy" and are responsible for helping raise levels of bad cholesterol.
Ironically, this belief that saturated fats are unhealthy is also a myth, and one that needs to be widely debunked for the sake of human health and well-being. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats like the kind found in coconut and palm oils, for instance, or in grass-fed meats, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese, are crucial for maintaining healthy cells, healthy organs, and a healthy body (http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller33.1.html).
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