Fat or fat-free? The truth about "fat"
For years we have been told that you are what you eat.
If you eat fat, you'll be fat.
There are "fat-free," "low-fat," "light," and "reduced-fat" products available. Here's what those terms mean:
- "Fat-free" foods must have less than 0.5 gram of fat per serving.
- "Low-fat" foods must have 3 grams of fat or less per serving.
- "Reduced-fat" foods must have at least 25% less fat than regular versions of those foods.
- "Light" foods must have either 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat.
When I tell my clients, friends and family to eat fat they often look at me like I’m crazy! But before you run a mile, hear me out on this one…
When you eat products that are low in fat or ‘”fat free”, a lot of the time what this actually means is “high in sugar”. When food companies extract fat from their products not only does it make it “fat free”, but also “taste free”. To make up for that, food makers tend to pour other ingredients -- especially sugar, flour, thickeners, and salt -- into the products. Adding up those calories!
While all fats seem to have been given a bad name, the only ones you need to be avoiding are trans fats and saturated fats.
Consuming a diet high in these fats can lead to high cholesterol levels in the blood, which can cause health conditions such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
It's a good idea to eat less saturated fat, or swap foods high in saturated fat for small amounts of foods containing unsaturated fats, to reduce the health risks linked with high cholesterol levels.
Which foods contain these fats?
- butter, lard and ghee (oil made from butter)
- fatty meats and meat products, such as sausages and pies
- cream, sour cream, crème fraîche and ice cream
- cheese, particularly hard cheese
- some savoury snacks, such as pork scratchings
- biscuits, cakes and pastries
- chocolates and some sweets
So what should I be eating?
The good news is that there are plenty of delicious and healthy fats to enjoy. Healthy fats – also known as monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats – not only keep you fuller for longer, but also nourish your body, and curb your sugar cravings.
Enjoy things like;
- olive oil, rapeseed oil and their spreads
- some nuts, such as almonds, brazils and peanuts
- oily fish, such as, mackerel, salmon, sardines, fresh tuna
Why are these healthy fats so good for me?
- Provide essential fatty acids that your body can’t produce itself
- Are a concentrated source of energy
- Help maintain your cell membranes
- Keep the nervous system in working order
- Boost the body’s immune system
- Enables the body to absorb super important fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K!
So next time you’re out shopping, read the food labels. Before eating a fat-free food, make sure the product isn't loaded with sugar or additives, and that it's actually lower in calories than the regular version!