Awareness related to healthy diets has increased over the past years due to the prevalence of social media and rise in the number of healthier products that also have the ability to be safe for people with specific conditions.
For example, since the rise of Celiac and gluten sensitivity companies and big brand labels have specifically created gluten-free versions of usual food products such as gluten-free pasta, bread, and bakery items.
In addition, these new target products have also been used by restaurants and cafes so that Celiac or gluten-sensitive patients can dine out. It is highly unlikely that a person is not able to find a special gluten-free menu at restaurants.
While the increased diet consciousness and knowledge about what to include in the diet and what to not is a good thing, there are still many things that the majority of the people are unaware of. Food-related myths that were produced back in the post-World War II era somehow still exist.
One of the most common myths related to diet and food is lesser fat leads to better health. Precisely, many people assume that fat is the main culprit behind deadly health issues such as coronary diseases, hypertension, and obesity.
Studies related to the usage and effect of fat on the body increased back in the 1950s and 60s after cases of people getting heart diseases was more than ever before. Ever since the conclusion of these studies was made public, people cut out fat completely from their diets.
The link between fat and fatal diseases does exist. Common observations can corroborate the claim of fat being the main reason behind obesity and high cholesterol. In accordance with a study, most of the people suffering from obesity have diets loaded with fats.
So is it true that fat is inherently bad for health and cutting it out completely is the solution?
No, fat is not always bad for the body which is why it is called a food myth in the first place. Cutting out fat completely from the diet does no good for the body. Instead, it can prove to be harmful and disrupt many of the body’s vital functions.
How Did Fat Get a Bad Name?
Many people do not know that fat in food is not bad for the body. On the other hand, people who do know a little about the fat myth think that it became prevalent due to the food industry’s marketing strategy which is also not true.
Contrary to popular belief, the food industry did not popularize the link between fat and various diseases and health conditions.
In fact, people started avoiding fatty foods way before the food industry started producing low-fat foods.
The rises in heart-related diseases after the World War II lead to the beginning of various studies in the United Studies, many of which linked the coronary diseases to high-saturated fatty foods that were consumed by the locals on a daily basis.
Later on, the American Heart Association in the 1960s started advocating healthy diets which had a lower amount of fat in it to avoid any further cases of heart-related diseases.
The US Senate also held a series of committee meetings to talk about ‘Diets related to Killer Diseases’ in 1976.
The campaigns to lessening the amount of fat consumed daily increased even more. This was the beginning of the war on fats and misinterpretations of the guidelines given by the common people that lead to total cutouts of fats.
The instructions given out by the campaigns and committees concentrated on increasing the number of carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Precisely, the carbs that are good for the body and high in nutritional value.
However, what the average Americans interpreted was not anywhere near these guidelines. Many people thought that all of the carbohydrates are essentially good for the body and fat in all forms should be avoided as much as possible.
This is when the role of the food industry came in. Shelves in grocery stores started piling up products with the label of ‘low-fat’ on them which were usually considerably high in carbohydrates and not the good ones.
The low-fat diets had horrible results on the American population. Not only was every other person deprived of average body strength due to lack of fat but obesity became an epidemic. The campaigns had the opposite effect.
In addition, this is also the time when sugar addiction became increasingly common. Food completely deprived of fat did not suit the tastes of people.
Hence, the amount of sugar was doubled. Sugary carbohydrates became the highest selling products.
None of the studies actually claimed that all fats were bad for the body. The actual problem was caused due to misinterpretation by the people. The food industry too began producing low-fat products after the rise in demands.
Hence, the industry and its marketing tactics are not the only one to be blamed here. The original intention was never to make people leave fat completely and lead to food with no nutritional values and a greater number of calories.
Recent studies have, in fact, debunked the myth of fat is bad for the body. With the exception of some types of fats, they are essentially needed by the body for various functions including repairing of muscles, maintaining strength and cholesterol.
These fats are known as ‘good fats’ and were not included in the list of factors leading to obesity or heart-related studies even in the post-World War II studies.
A study on 48 thousand women showed that diets low in carbs instead of fats helped them lose more weight and lessen bad cholesterol.
What Are Some Sources Of Good Fats?
Increasing good fats in the diet can have various health benefits. The only thing to be careful about is to choose the right ones instead of the harmful ones.
The guidelines given to avoid fats concentrated on the ‘bad fats’ which are unfortunately are present in an abundant quantity especially in average American diets of all age groups from children to people who have crossed the age of 50.
For example, transfats, poly-saturated fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and unhealthy oils are present in some of the widely consumed foods such as burgers, pizzas, pasta, packaged snacks and anything deep fried.
Most of the food aisles in grocery stores are loaded with these types of fats. Many people also find it hard to avoid these fats due to addiction as well as confusion in reading the nutritional information on the packs.
Most people are not able to leave their addiction due to the latter reason. Often, bad fats are listed in nutritional value information on the back of packs and cans with different names such as hydrogenated vegetable oil.
The key is to increase the good fats instead of cutting out fat completely as the former is not linked with any disease like the latter.
While being careful with reading food labels on the packs, look for products with unsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
All of these are good for health and help in lowering cholesterol, keep weight in control, building a higher endurance and strength as well as reducing chances of heart-related diseases and obesity in a person.
Some of the best sources of such good fats include:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Omega-3s (from fish and fish oil capsules)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Coconut Oil
If you have a health condition, always remember to consult a doctor before making any drastic change to diet. Leaving all foods at once is not necessary. Slowly swapping bad fats with good fats has been proven to end up being a permanent change more often.