This is a controversial one and probably the hardest to get your head around as we have been bombarded with all the scary misguided advice for years on how fat is going to make you fat and give you heart disease. But It is not!
Now I would like to stop there and say trust me, but as you are already reading this I assume and hope that you are the type of person that needs some more information before you make your own decision.
Side note: I find it interesting that we haven't questioned the mainstream advice before now and continue on with the same flawed view even though it doesn't work in most situations and we continue to see increasing chronic illness across the world.
The science behind this gets very deep so I will try and keep things simple but I will expand on certain points in future posts and strongly recommended the extra reading at the end of the post if you need more information.
What is Fat?
Most of us think of fat as the wobbly bits on the body that we really don't want, it accumulates in all the places we don't want it to and seems to be very hard to shift. This fat accumulation is actually a very clever involutionary trick designed for times of famine. When food is scarce we can access these extra fat stores for energy to keep us alive until the next meal. The problem is we still have this inbuilt mechanism and not only do we have unlimited access to food we have hormone dysregulation and excessive carbohydrate consumption all leading to making us fat. Fat can be stored under the skin known as subcutaneous fat the stuff you feel hanging over your jeans. But fat can also be visceral fat, this is worse as it is accumulating around internal organs. We do need some fat in the body to function well and it helps insulate us from the cold.
Fat is also in our food, but not all fat is created equal. This is one of the many reasons that fat has got a bad name. Many of the studies done that have given fat a bad name have been done using vegetable, rapeseed and corn oils. These type of fats are pro-inflammatory and have gone through many chemical processes to make them including bleaching agents. These alongside side with a high carbohydrate diet are a bad combination. Much of our modern processed food contain at least one of these bad fats and often the even worse hydrogenated fats.
There are however good dietary fats. These come from animal fat, nuts, fish, avocado, coconut and olive oil. The first thought many people have when speaking of this kind of fat is what about all the saturated fat? That's not good is it? It has a reputation for clogging arteries, raising cholesterol and giving you heart disease. But there is not actually any real science to back up these claims. It is true that saturated fat can raise cholesterol but it raises the good cholesterol not the bad (There is a whole other post on this subject in the future) and other negative claims are correlated with results but this doesn't prove causation.
We have an essential (must get through diet) level of dietary fat intake. You have probably heard of the fatty acids known as omegas 3, 6 and 9.
Omega 3 is essential and important for brain function and development, you can get it from oily fish like salmon, tuna and sardines.
Omega 6 is also essential but with our modern diet is often out of balance due to our over consumption of bad oils. Good sources include Nuts, seeds and green vegetables
Omega 9 is not essential as the body can produce itself assuming you have enough 3 and 6. However you can get it from nuts, seeds and avocado.
One of the many benefits of eating fats is it is satiating and keeps you full for longer keeping off the constant sugar craving ups and downs.This is the opposite to low fat food products that are often filled with added sugar to replace the flavor that goes when the fat is taken out.
Fats to avoid come from any kind of vegetable oils, canola, rapeseed and hydrogenated fats.
Fats to include come from animal fats, eggs, avocado, olive oil and dairy if tolerated.
If you can tolerate dairy products then they can be a good addition to your diet. There is a good nutritional spectrum, and full fat cream or yogurt can feel really indulgent. Real butter on your vegetables or in your scrambled eggs tastes great.
To conclude, fat is not all bad as long as it comes from a good source. Don't be afraid of it, include it in your diet, it won't make you fat or ill if you are following a primal aligned diet. It can bring you higher degrees of sustained energy and make food really enjoyable.