It is a strong belief among most people that to lose weight, the first food group that needs to be cut out from the daily diet is the fats. It is also most commonly believed that fats are responsible for all heart related conditions including heart attacks.
Saturated fats have constantly been berated for being the number 1 cause of obesity and heart ailments. This belief spread widely due to a study conducted and results published by Dr Key’s. He called this study the ‘Seven Countries Study’ and he examined the heart risk based on the lifestyle and dietary habits of the people from the countries that he had chosen for his study.
On careful examination, he found that in countries where people ate more fat, especially saturated fats, there were more cases of heart diseases. Based on these findings, he thus concluded that the consumption of saturated facts caused these diseases.
The problem with this study, however, is that there is no direct correlation between the two. This means that even though both, the consumption of unsaturated fats and heart diseases is higher among the people of those regions, it does not mean that one is the cause of the other.
THE TRUTH ABOUT FAT CONSUMPTION
A nutritionist recently undertook the task of reviewing all the studies and research pertaining to the effects of saturated fats published in the American journal of Clinical Nutrition, and found out that there was no direct correlation between saturated fats and heart diseases.
A recent editorial in the British Journal of Medicine drove home the same point that there lies no relation between the two. Researchers have found that even though lowering the consumption of saturated fats does in fact lower the total cholesterol of the body, it actually lowers the good kind of cholesterol, the LDL, which is not the problem causing cholesterol.
A common observation is that when people lower their fat consumption, they tend to binge on starch and sugar instead and this consequently increases the levels of the dangerous cholesterol. This dangerous cholesterol is the small, dense cholesterol that causes heart attacks.
Studies have shown that 75% of the people who have suffered from a heart attack had normal overall cholesterol levels at the time of the heart attack. However, most of such patients suffer from pre diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The conclusion is thus that eating a good diet with quality fat and proteins prevents, and in some cases, even reverses diabetes and pre-diabetes.
HOW DO HEALTHY FATS AND OILS HELP THE BODY?
All types and forms of fats and oils contain some amounts of fatty acids. The consumption of healthy fats and oils and their internal digestion in the body causes these fatty acids to be absorbed by the blood.
These fatty acids can be called the building blocks of the body. They help in the reparation and creation of cell membranes and nerve sheathing, while also contributing to the efficiency of other bodily functions.
The following can be said to be the major benefits of the consumption of healthy fats and oils –
- They are a brilliant source of energy
- They help the body absorb fat soluble vitamins.
- They aid the brain synapses in firing correctly, thus making sure that all cognitive functions are performed efficiently and timely.
- They protect the body from chronic inflammation. On the other hand, unhealthy fats and oils can contribute to chronic inflammation.
- They promote the quick clotting of blood in cases of injuries and wounds.
- They also assist the muscles in functioning properly.
WHAT MAKES A FAT HEALTHY OR UNHEALTHY?
There are numerous categories of fats and oils, some are considered healthy and have various health benefits, while the others are terribly unhealthy and may adversely affect the body. The main categories of fats include Saturated fats, Monosaturated fats, Trans fats, and Polyunsaturated fats.
Amongst all of these varieties, Trans fats, also called hydrogenated fats, are the most unhealthy variety of fats. regular consumption of trans fats promotes chronic inflammation, and this has been linked to stroke, heart diseases, diabetes, dementia and even certain forms of cancer.
Trans fats are normally made to undergo certain processes such as combining the liquid oil with hydrogen to make them solid fats, and this helps prevent rancidity.Trans fats are most commonly found in margarine and vegetable shortenings, cookies and crackers, baked goods and fast foods, such as French fries.
MYTHS RELATING TO “THE EATING FATS MAKES YOU FAT” BELIEF
Myth 1 – Fat Makes Overeating Easier
According to this belief a calorie is a calorie irrespective of its source. There is nothing inherently fattening about fat itself, but it is easier to binge on fatty foods, then say foods loaded with carbohydrates or proteins.
The evidence used to clinch this line is usually a simple piece of calorie math: fat has 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein have 4.
So eating low-fat foods allows you to eat a bigger pile of food without gaining weight, which makes you feel fuller and less deprived, which lets you stick to a diet for longer.
However, this is not the truth. The truth is that for most people fat has more satiating power than proteins or carbohydrates. In short, when they eat foods that are high on fat content, their body tells them that it is full sooner, and hence they don’t eat as much, leading to lesser consumption of calories.
Myth 2 – Fat is Empty Calories
The proponents of this myth believe that fats have essentially no nutritive value or fibers and only add calories to the body without any nourishment. This, however, is completely false.
Fat is considered to be an essential nutrient for the body. Saturated fats are essential to form cell membranes, for a good immune system, for the formation of hormones and for providing energy to the body. it is thus extremely essential to the body and is not merely ‘empty calories’.