Despite the fact that fats and oils are rich in calories, they form an important part of a healthy diet.

All fats and oils provide important nutrients such as essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Moreover, eating the right fats can stimulate the burning of body fat! Fats also saturate, hency why it’s important to eat the right fats in order to control your appetite.

In short, eating fat is necessary if you want to lose weight. In this article, you’ll learn why fats are so important and which fats are actually healthy.

Myth 1: Fats Make You Fat

Over the past 50 years fat, particularly saturated fat, has been labeled as unhealthy by the food industry.

Nowadays the shelves in supermarkets are filled with 0% fat (diet) products, but what effect did these products have on our health?

Fact: over the past 30 years Americans have been eating 10% less fat. In the same period, the number of obese people has doubled.

So apparently low fat diets haven’t helped us to be healthier at all, on the contrary, studies are proving that we keep getting fatter.

Why has the reduction of our fat consumption not made us healthier?

It seems logical that eating fat promotes obesity. Yet that’s not necessarily the case. It all depends on what you eat in combination with those fats. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates in combination with fats, you’ll gain weight. I you eat a fewer carbohydrates, more fats and even more protein, you’ll actually lose weight.

This is how our metabolism works and it’s also the reason why low-carb and protein diets are so successful.

Myth 2: (Saturated) Fat Is Bad For Your Cardiovascular System

I can still hear the doctor tell my granddad that all that fat is bad for his heart. For years people had been told to remove saturated fat from their diet. Opt for butter instead of margarine for example… but this assumption was never based on correct scientific research.

Only in the 90’s researchers started extensive studies linking the consumption of fat and the risk of cardiovascular disease. The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study using data from the Nurses Health Study, involving 90.000 nurses that we’re followed over a period of 10 years. They found that women who ate 4 teaspoons of margarine per day had 50% more chance at developing a cardiovascular disease compared to women who never consumed margarine.

Recently, there have been bigger studies on the effects of fat consumption. The most important research is a comparative study involving 72 published studies on lipids and cardiovascular disease that were analyzed again.

Thanks to this extensive analysis scientists were able to study the effects of fat consumption on a group of 600.000 people from 18 different countries. Some people in these studies already had a heart disease while others did not.

The researchers analyzed the results and tried to find an answer to the question which fats harm and which fats heal the cardiovascular system. The following fats were being researched:

  • Trans fats (found in fried foods, chips, cookies and many other unhealthy snacks)
  • Monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil and vegetable oils)
  • Saturated fats (found in meat, dairy products and baked goods)
  • Polyunsaturated fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 (found in fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils)

The saturated fats had surprisingly no effect on the risk of cardiovascular disease. Just as surprising was that monounsaturated fats, of which were believed to be good for the heart, had no positive effects.

The other fats did have an effect. Trans fats clearly increased, as had been expected, the risk of heart disease. In addition, some Omega-3 fats seem to help keeping the heart healthy, although the evidence wasn’t as conclusive as expected.

Diet Advice: The “Right” Fats

So which fats are you allowed to include in your healthy diet? In general, natural fats can never be harmful and might even be beneficial to your health. A couple of examples of natural fats are fats from fish, meat, dairy products (eggs, cheese and butter), seeds, nuts and fruits like avocados and olives (olive oil).

You should try to avoid all the fats that are added to factory-made products.

Be aware of trans fats!

Trans fat is a result of food processing that turn oils into fats. Hence, why you can find trans fats in many unhealthy snacks like cookies and chips, but also in frying oil and therefore most fried or baked foods.

The human body doesn’t need trans fat and it’s also very unhealthy. More and more packages mention how much trans fat the product contains, so pay attention to this when you’re shopping. The maximum allowed amount of trans fat is 2 grams of trans fat per day for women and 3 grams per day for men.

Why The Body Needs Fats

The body uses fats to produce testosterone, estrogen, vitamin D and other vital compounds. Some fats are also essential to the immune system. In addition, fats also promote weight loss. Fat also has a satiating effect: you’re less hungry after a meal that contains a lot of fat.

The importance of an Omega-3 fatty acid rich diet

Our diets have changed so much that most people no longer consume enough Omega-3 fats. This is unfortunate because omega 3 fatty acids are known to have beneficial properties for our health. Omega 3 has the following beneficial effects on:

  • arthritis
  • depression
  • the metabolism
  • menopausal problems (PMS)
  • and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases

Recent research has also shown that children who consume a lot of Omega-3 fats can concentrate more easily and are more intelligent. Some scientists also claim that children who have Omega-3 fat deficits in their early years risk developing ADHD or aggression-related problems.

Omega-3 fats are found in fish oil. That’s why it’s important to eat oily fish. (at least 1 time a week) These fish are oily fish:

  • fatsherring
  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • sardines
  • trout
  • tuna

Besides fish oil, Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in the following foods:

  • avocado
  • eggs (and mayonnaise)
  • vegetable oils (hemp oil, linseed oil, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, walnut oil and wheat germ oil)

Nowadays you can also find Omega-3 supplements and other products enriched with Omega-3. These supplements can help you to provide your body with enough Omega-3 fatty acids.

Olive Oil

It has been scientifically proven that olive oil lowers the cholesterol levels, prevents breast cancer and reduces the risk of heart disease and stomach and intestinal problems.

Olive oil is also rich in oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acids) and contains many antioxidants such as hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol and vitamin E. Antioxidants help to prevent cancer and other diseases.

Olive oil also promotes weight loss. Research shows that people who consume olive oil during their meals stay satisfied longer and therefore eat up to 200 calories per day less.

Conclusion

The fear of fat is often totally unjustified. If you want to lose weight, the consumption of fats can only help you during your journey.

The best way to lose weight is to adopt to diet that is low in carbohydrates and sugars while consuming a little bit more fats and proteins.