Goodbye, 80's and 90's. The low-fat craze is officially over (but leggings are back?). Here are my 6 favorite reasons to eat healthy, life-giving fats!
1. Fat is Delicious.
Let's face the facts here. Anything cooked in butter is better. Anything containing bacon is better. Nearly anything topped with a cream-based sauce is better. Cooking with fat is one of the best ways in the world to make your food taste outrageously AMAZING!! Just ask Julia Child.
I have a theory that more Americans would cook their own food (and really enjoy it!) if they would cook with plenty of fat. It really makes a world of difference in the taste, and it helps alleviate the desire to eat out all the time. And eating more home-cooked meals means you can control what kind of fat you're eating, rather than getting whatever the restaurant cooks decided to use (often whatever is cheapest).
2. Fat Helps Even Out "Sugar Highs" and Lows
Since I have gotten really intentional about making fat a consistent part of my diet, I have noticed that I rarely have huge energy "crashes" like I used to. You know that kind of queasy, ravenous feeling you sometimes get after drinking juice or eating sugary candy? It is mysteriously absent when plenty of fat is consumed as well. This is because the fat helps the contents of your stomach (including that sugary food) digest a bit more slowly, so it's not flooding your bloodstream with glucose quite as quickly.
3. Fat Helps You Feel Fuller Longer
You hear a ton these days about fiber and protein, and how they magically keep you full for a long time so you can stick to your super healthy diet. Okay, I am not denying that. But fat is the most underrated stomach-filler of all time. Haven't you ever complained about "that meal that is just sitting like a brick in my stomach...I feel like I'll never need to eat again?" Chances are, it was a fatty meal. So we all know intuitively that fat helps us feel full and satisfied, but we are so pumped full of fat-phobia that we don't take advantage of that knowledge. Instead, we put ourselves on a high-carb insulin roller-coaster, wondering why we are always hungry an hour after eating! Just add some healthy fat to what you eat, and you'll feel fuller much longer.
4. Fat Helps Your Body Absorb Vitamins
Not all vitamins. Just the fat-soluble ones. That would be good ole' A, D, E, and K. Fat-soluble means these 4 vitamins don't dissolve in water, only in fat. So having adequate fat in your diet helps your body get enough of 'em. And, interestingly enough, it is these very vitamins that are seriously lacking in modern diets, especially when compared to diets of healthy traditional people of the past.
As luck would have it (just kidding), foods that contain fat also tend to contain these vitamins. Think real dairy (skim doesn't actually qualify as dairy in my book), egg yolks, and animal products like liver. So all those dietary advisers who say "it really is good to put dressing on your salad to help you absorb its nutrients" are absolutely right. Now if only they would remind everyone to put butter on their cooked veggies...
5. Fat is Not the Devil
Okay, let me amend that statement... real fat, fat created as nature intended, is not the devil. I'm not advocating Crisco and soybean oil here (or anything else dissolved, bleached, and deodorized in a factory). But coconut oil, butter and full-fat dairy (preferably from pastured animals), lard, tallow and schmaltz (with the same pastured condition), high quality olive oil, have gotten some seriously undeserved criticism from the low-fat crowd.
Yes, fats do contain 9 calories per gram, instead of 4, like carbs and protein do. But do they make you fat? Do they clog up your arteries? Do they give you heart attacks, acne, and heartburn? The evidence against healthy fats, my friends, is seriously lacking.
Even "mainstream" nutritionists (read: not fringe "Natural Health" nuts like myself) are now admitting that some fats are good for you (like the "Mediterranean Diet" kind - Extra Virgin Olive Oil seems to be above reproach in all nutritional circles), and recent research is finally vindicating high fat dairy, as well. Cholesterol is being increasingly understood as a critical component of a healthy body, and even the "artery clogging" saturated fats in coconut oil and animal products are gaining popular acceptance.
6. Healthy Traditional Diets Are FattyPeople have been eating fat for millenia. It has worked out pretty darn well thus far. Oh, until the last 50 years or so. Strange how as America's consumption of butter, whole dairy, and other real, natural fats have gone down, our rates of obesity, heart attack, stroke, and other "lifestyle diseases" have skyrocketed.
What's your favorite fatty food? Do you generally try to eat "low fat," or avoid any specific types of fat? Leave a comment below and share your views on the fat debate!
Posted at Monday Mania, Gluten Free Monday, Hearth and Soul, Tasty Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, and WFMW