Why You Need to Eat More Fat

I’m often amazed to read recipes labeled “healthy” that include ingredients that are either nutritionally void (such as egg whites)Picture of a Steak - Why You Need to Eat More Fat or which contain harmful toxins (such as fat-free sour cream). The reason I’m amazed to see these potentially harmful ingredients labeled “healthy” is because fat-free foods have finally been proven to be harmful to health instead of being helpful. This article explains how this myth became perpetuated and what the truth is. The bottom line is that your body requires fat for the health of every cell. The type and quantity of fat is what determines whether or not the fat you consume improves your health of harms it.

And – YES – you have my permission to eat organic, nitrate-free bacon in moderation. Here’s why:  Health Benefits of Bacon.

It is an absolute myth that fat causes heart disease and weight gain. There is no scientific proof to support claims a low-fat diet is healthier. So why is this myth so prevalent? Simply because a single, flawed study was conducted whose results were twisted. The study drew conclusions which could not be supported by the study’s design. Multiple other studies conducted since then confirmed that fat is essential to the health of body, mind and spirit.

A recent study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed the results of over twenty different studies. The reviewers tracked tracked the health of study participants over a span of 5-23 years. Their final conclusion was there is NO connection between consumption of saturated fat (or any fat, for that matter) and coronary disease. Other studies found people with the highest consumption of natural fat (either saturated or unsaturated) had lower death rates from any cause. We’ve obviously been lied to. Living to a ripe old age requires the fat myth to be busted and laid to rest.

I’ll save my rant about the “Cholesterol Myth” for another day, but you can learn more about cholesterol in the article: Six Surprising Facts About Cholesterol.

The truth is that the body requires fat and finds it essential for:

  • Proper nerve function
  • Production of hormones
  • Building and maintaining healthy blood vessels
  • Maintaining body temperature
  • Cushioning and protecting internal organs
  • Maintaining healthy skin
  • Normal, efficient cognitive function

Based on that list, it is obvious that not eating enough healthy fat can create a myriad of health problems.

So what’s the difference between a healthy fat and an unhealthy fat? It’s very simple:

  1. Fats made by God and found in nature are safe and have health benefits.
  2. Fat made in a lab (such as hydrogenated oils) are unsafe and can have negative health effects.

It truly is that simple. The fat in dairy, meats, fish, eggs, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds and everything else found in nature is healthy. Hydrogenated oils made in a laboratory are not. Hydrogenation uses chemical modification to turn oils that are liquid at room temperature into oils that are solid at room temperature. Oils are hydrogenated to simplify their shipping and to simplify the emulsification process of some products. Oils are not hydrogenated for your benefit. The hydrogenation process creates foreign chemicals our bodies do not recognize or know how to metabolize. Consumption of hydrogenated oils can lead to high levels of arterial plaque that can definitely interfere with coronary function.

The one caveat to natural oils being healthy is that some vegetable oils are extremely high in Omega 6 fatty acids that are known to be highly inflammatory. Those oils include corn, soy, canola, etc. Those oils also have fatty acid bonds which are very easily broken by high heat, which means they tend to deteriorate when used for cooking. (Olive oil also deteriorates at high heat, but is not inflammatory.) For best results, use olive oil for cold foods such as salad dressings, and use extra virgin coconut oil for cooking. (If you’ve never tried popcorn cooked in organic, extra virgin coconut oil, you are missing out on quite a treat!)

There you have it. You now have my permission to eat more fat. Don’t go crazy, but feel free to enjoy one more piece of bacon!

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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4 Responses to Why You Need to Eat More Fat

  1. […] oils in margarine. Go for it! (For more information about myths related to fat consumption, read:  Why You Need to Eat More Fat.) […]

  2. Great article! I was discussing just this with a nutritionist yesterday. As I’m in my 50s, she advised that I need to add more oils to my diet: a diet I thought was pretty good! This article underlines her advice. I’ve always hated manufactured ‘healthy’ butter substitutes: I think it’s another money-spinning way to get rid of toxic by-products of the processed food industry. Fat is good for you 🙂

  3. Robbie Wood says:

    I learn something new every time I read an article of yours. Thank you so much for all your sharing and caring. God Bless you. 🙂

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