For much of our lives, we were advised to avoid dietary fat if we wanted to stay svelte and healthy. It was drilled into us that fat makes you fat. Not PHAT (aka pretty hot and tempting, for those of you not up on early-2000 pop culture - who even are you), but f a t. The no bueno kind. Well guess freaking what?! That guidance is WRONG-O.
Current studies show fat is actually ESSENTIAL to your health. Imagine that. In a powerful article by Dr. Dwight Lundell, a heart surgeon with 25 years' experience and over 5,000 open-heart surgeries under his belt, he admits he was wrong all those years. Here are some key takeaways from his article (which I will link below):
- Inflammation is the real culprit
- This has prompted a paradigm shift in the treatment of heart disease and other chronic ailments
- Inflammation causes cholesterol to become trapped, causing heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended.
- Inflammation is your body's natural defense to a foreign invader, such as bacteria, toxins, or viruses
- If we chronically expose our bodies to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process (looking at you, McD's "chicken" nuggets), a condition occurs called chronic inflammation.
- We have simply followed the recommended mainstream low-fat diet, unknowingly causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. Yikes! This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes (aka DIABEETUS), and obesity.
- The biggest culprits of chronic inflammation are, quite simply, the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour, and all products made from them) and the excessive consumption of omega-6 veggie oils like soybean, corn, and sunflower found in many processed foods
- (This is a gnarly analogy) Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes extremely red and nearly bleeding. Imagine you repeated this several times a day, every day for five years. If you could even tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that worsened with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now. JIGGA WHAT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- A diseased artery looks like someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall
- SEVERAL TIMES A DAY, EVERY DAY, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into even MORE injuries, causing the body to RESPOND CONTINUOUSLY and appropriately WITH INFLAMMATION
- In case you didn't get the point: "While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone"
Bananas, right?! Really makes you re-think what you put in your piehole, when you visualize the effects. Another argument for eating foods as close to their natural state as possible (future post on this).
Back to the benefits of fat. Here are some solid reasons to embrace fat:
- Better body composition
- More muscle
- Easier fat loss
- Improved reproductive health
- Better brain function and mood with less risk of depression
- Stronger bones and decreased risk of osteoporosis
- Reduced cancer risk (suck it, cancer)
- Better cholesterol ratio and reduced heart disease risk
- Stronger immune system
- Better SKIN and eye health (yassss! the better to see that glowing skin with, my dear)
- MORE ENERGY!!!!!!!!
So don't shy away from that fat, mis amigos! The closer a food is to its natural form, the better, so avoid anything that's been messed with, i.e. items labeled "low fat" or "low sugar." Real butter is much better than margarine (margarine is straight chemicals, yo), whole milk is preferable to skim, etc. And no more dry salads, puh lease!! Fun fact: Full-fat dressing actually ENHANCES nutrient absorption and bioavailability. So you're actually missing out if you pass on the fat. Good news, right?! Happy eating, PHATties!!!!