Fat or fiction?
Long considered the bad boy of nutrition, dietary fat is making a comeback with coconut oil, olive oil and even (gasp!) butter now touted as not only a healthy addition to our diets but also as an effective weight loss tool. Is increasing dietary fat intake for health advisable or too good to be true?
The answer would have shocked us during the high carbohydrate, low fat fads of the 80’s and 90’s. Fat, it turns out, can be our friend and a powerful tool in assisting in living healthier lives. Many of the vitamins we require for bone, cell and especially neurological health are fat soluble and can only be found in foods that contain fat. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble and, as with all vitamins and minerals, it’s best to ingest them as part of your balanced diet as opposed to in tablet form. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, are essential for brain health and as natural anti-inflammatory agents. Low fat diets can lead to deficiencies in these vital minerals.
The traditional low-fat diet relies heavily on substituting natural fats with unnatural flavourants and sugar additions in order to improve the otherwise tasteless fat free version. This increased use of additives has contributed to the increasing waistlines of modern Australia.
Fat can act as a natural appetite suppressant as it naturally increases the feeling of satiety and satisfaction when not combined with processed carbohydrates. As strange as it sounds, a balanced diet that includes some good, natural fats can help to control weight.
There is a catch, though. Increasing fat intake while maintaining a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates is a bad idea. Focus on natural foods, high in fibre and nutrients and steer clear of empty calories. Include natural fat in your cooking by using butter rather than sunflower oil and margarine. Cook with coconut and olive oil and enjoy avocado, fatty fish and eggs as part of your balanced diet.