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Big Fat Misconceptions (About Fat)

Updated: Apr 9

Why it isn’t all the same, and why you should love fat rather than avoid it.


I was recently given a cookbook, The Happy Pear, and the recipes look very nice - I’ve been recommended it before and thought the same, but I’d never sat down to read it until now. While doing so, I was astonished to see so much nutritional nonsense throughout the book and I figured it’s time to address one of the worst offenders - that fat is bad.


Before getting started, I should quickly say that I like what the guys at Happy Pear are trying to achieve. Getting people to eat more fruit and vegetables is a noble goal and can only be a good thing for everyone other than Big Pharma. The recipes look great and healthy for the most part, but they can’t seem to make their minds up about fat in particular. One moment Avocadoes are full of healthy fat, the next minute they’re blasting oil for being 100% fat and consequently a ‘junk food’.


 

In this article


 

 

You have a fat brain


Your brain is 60% fat and the fats you eat are directly incorporated into your brain. Remember this, the next time someone tries to tell you “all oils are the same” or “all fats are the same” - what you’re eating is literally going to end up in your brain and may influence everything you think, say and do 



Eating fat doesn't make you fat


In fact, fat-rich foods tend to be very filling and can therefore prevent you from feeling hungry and snacking between meals. There are even diets very high in fat, which can lead to weight loss; though these diets aren’t recommended long-term. Some fats even help you to burn fat, like MCTs and Brown Fat


You need fat to produce cholesterol and no, cholesterol is not bad


'Cholesterol' refers to 5 main types of lipoproteins, all of which are necessary, and all vary in how ‘good’ they are for you. Without cholesterol, you won’t make any testosterone or oestrogen, nor will you produce Vitamin D (cholecalciferol). It’s also theorized that ‘bad’ cholesterol causes plaque build-up due to its function of covering damaged arterial walls (like a plaster over a cut) and therefore performing a vital function. Low cholesterol is even associated with higher risk of depression and suicide!



You need fat for vitamins


Oil might not contain many vitamins, but neither does water and we still need it to live. Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K are all essential for human health and, as the name implies, they rely on fat to be used by the body


Not all fats are good

ursula fat villain

OK full disclaimer, I don’t love all fats; saying they’re all good is as daft as saying they’re all bad. For example, I’m very particular about which oils I consume


It’s not a case of ‘saturated fats are bad’

Coconut oil is 100% fat, high in Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) - a saturated fat and an extremely healthy one. This type of fat even helps you to burn fat, so in this case you can eat fat to lose fat! Palm oil is another high in saturate fats, but also contains the full spectrum of vitamin Es, rather than just the single alpha-tocopherol found in most supplements.


The Mediterranean diet is high in saturated fats and we know how much healthier they are compared with Americans eating a SAD diet (Standard American Diet).


Sort out your Omega ratios


A great balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is vital for optimal health. Consider all the cheap oils used in fast food and heavily processed foods - sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil… what do they all have in common? They’re all high in Omega-6 fats. While these fats are essential for health, too much of them will result in your health deteriorating. You also need Omega-9, so spend a little extra for your health and get that extra virgin olive oil instead.


Where do I get my fat from?


My diet can most easily be described as vegan, consisting mainly of fruit and vegetables. I never eat processed food and I’m always looking for ways to add more fat to my diet.


  • Extra virgin olive oil - I practically drink the stuff

  • Coconut oil, cream, milk - used in so much of my cooking

  • Nuts and seeds - every day as part of my breakfast

  • Fruits - olives, cacao, avocado

 

Interesting Fat Facts


Camels store fat in their humps and not water.

camel fat humps

By storing fat instead of water, they can store vital nutrients in the fat for later and use the fat to create water. In fact, burning fat for water creates around 10% more water than you'd get from storing the same amount of water


Being cold means you produce a different kind of fat.

cold swimming ice brown fat

Brown fat is created and activated by cold temperatures, resulting in a fat that more efficiently creates heat. It does this by breaking down glucose and fat, meaning this fat is like MCTs in that it actually helps you to burn fat!


 

FAQs

12 Frequently Asked Questions


1.      Are all oils the same?

Absolutely not. They're full of different fats in different ratios, produced in many different ways from different foods. All oils are bad if they're rancid (old), but otherwise it's impossible to make sweeping statements.


2.     Is fat good for you?

The answer to this is more yes than no, as you require fat to be healthy. Fat is an essential macronutrient and attempting to eliminate it from your diet is almost always going to be a terrible idea.


3.     Why do people think fat is bad?

For the same reason people think salt is bad and cholesterol is bad. There's always a new dietary villain in town and it takes a while for common sense to catch up. I think we also seek simplicity in our busy stressful lives, and it's nice and easy to just label something as bad and move on.


4.     Does eating fat make me fat?

In the same way drinking water makes you more full of water.


5.     Can I eat too much fat?

Yes, you can eat too much of anything. There are general guidelines bandied around on the amounts and ratios of macronutrients like fat, but it ultimately comes down to what's right for your body. You can always seek advice!


6.     What has the most fat?

Oils are 100% fat


7.     Do I need fat?

Yes, absolutely. For one thing, without fat you wouldn't have 60% of your brain. Nor would you produce vital hormones, repair your cells, produce, store, and transport vitamins...


8.     How do I avoid fat?

You don't if you want to be healthy


9. Should I avoid seed oils?

Seed oils are getting a lot of bad publicity recently and it's mostly deserved. Their high Omega-6 content is not necessarily a bad thing, if your diet is low in this fat... However, as most people in the West have far too much Omega-6 (comparative to Omega-3), consuming more Omega-6 is absolutely a bad thing.


They also seem to be heavily processed and run the risk of being rancid by the time they get to you. As always, seek quality sources.


10. What are good types of fat?

There are many types of fats and most of them are relatively good. Look for purity and freshness over rancid and refined.


11. What are bad types of fat?

The only really universally bad types of fat would be artificially produced trans fats - just avoid processed foods and you'll steer clear of these


12.   Is fat healthy?




 
Adam Pike - Holistic Healer

Looking for nutrition and dietary advice?

Get in touch with Adam Pike

Holistic Healer & Health Consultant | Director of Spiritual England


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