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The low-fat diet craze has been popular since the ‘70s when scientists linked a diet high in saturated fat to raised cholesterol levels, and a low-saturated fat diet was found to be protective against heart disease. Somehow, because of the unhealthy qualities of this one type of fat, the entire fat category got a bad rap. Thus began the low-fat diet craze (which actually became the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet craze that continues to contribute to the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease we have ever seen).

The truth is we need fat. It’s one of the three main macronutrients—fat, carbohydrates, and protein—that provides fuel for our body and keeps us running. Every cell in the body is enclosed in a membrane made up of fats. Without fat, our cells cannot run efficiently. But certain fats are better than others, as scientists learned in the early studies investigating fat and heart disease.

The one fat you want to completely eliminate from your diet is processed trans-fat. The trans-fat found in hydrogenated oils (common in processed foods) has been linked to a number of health conditions. It’s best to cut this one out completely. The fat you want to greatly reduce is saturated fat. Although a natural fat, its saturated nature means that it is a stiff molecule, and stiff fats make for stiff cell membranes. This reduces the ability of the cell to maintain fluidity—an important characteristic of a healthy cell.

You don’t have to eliminate saturated fats, but be sure to eat them in moderation. Even better, obtain your saturated fats from coconut oil, a medium chain saturated fat considered a healthy saturated fat due to its shorter chain length and rapid metabolism.

The fats you do need to eat—probably more than you already do—are monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil) and the omega-3 fats (found in fish oil, flaxseed, chia seed, and walnuts). These fats are unsaturated, and contribute to the fluidity of cell membranes, as well as to the regulation of inflammatory response—all health-promoting actions.

A recent study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research highlighted the importance of eating fats along with vegetables. The researchers found that the carotenoid nutrients (beta carotene is a carotenoid) found in salads were best absorbed when eaten in combination with monounsaturated fats as opposed to saturated or even polyunsaturated fats. If you have been passing on salad dressing because you want to cut down on fat, you’re better off adding fat—use a vinaigrette made with olive oil. This week, add some extra virgin olive oil to your veggies and remember that fat is a nutrient—not the enemy. Just choose the right fats.

Written by ReNew Life

Established in 1997, ReNew Life is the leading natural digestive care and cleansing company in America and the recipient of numerous industry awards for product quality, purity and efficacy. Led by co-founder and renowned digestive care and nutrition expert Brenda Watson C.N.C., the ReNew Life community of health-minded educators is committed to empowering consumers with knowledge necessary to achieve and maintain vibrant, lasting health. Sign up today to receive Brenda’s Healthy Living eNewsletter full of do-it-yourself tips, recipes, and exclusive offers!

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  • Preston Osborne

    I’ve never heard anyone comment on any risk factor that might be involved when we diet and our stored body fat becomes part of our diet.

    In other words, is body fat “good fat”, or “bad fat”. Or, am I missing something?

    Sincerely,
    Preston

  • renewlifesupport

    Great question. Actually, our bodies store toxins along with fat, so sometimes when a diet is successful and weight is dropped, some people may actually feel very poorly as the toxins are re-released into their systems.

    The actual fat itself from the body, when used by the liver for energy production, is a perfect fuel. It’s just the other junk that may cause an issue until it’s removed successfully from the body.

    If the body is overburdened and the channels of elimination are clogged, those toxins may just be stored again. That’s why Total Body Cleansing when prior/during dieting can be so helpful – check this out. (http://www.renewlife.com/learning-center/digestive-care-articles/cleansing-and-detoxification/benefits-of-total-body-cleansing).

    When you read about “good” vs “bad” fats, that’s in reference to your intake of different types of oils/fats in your diet. Too much “bad” fat (really it’s more about the amounts relative to each other) actually increases inflammation in your body. That’s why you want to focus more on Omega 3s. They decrease inflammation. You don’t need to worry about getting enough Omega 6s – they are very prevalent in your diet.

    The one fat you want to completely eliminate from your diet, as mentioned above, is processed trans-fat.

    I hope this helps.

  • http://www.mccoyfitness.ca Karen McCoy

    I believe that saturated fat from clean animals is life-enhancing….native cultures ate 40-50% animal fat…a great scientific study outlined in the book “Traditional Foods are your Best Medicine…” I just think animal fat has gotten a very bad rap…I’m a carnivore at heart, myself!! :)

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