Fats: The Good and Bad


As a food group, fats might be the most controversial.  Our Canadian Guide to Healthy Living directs us to “avoid foods high in fat.”  This message means that many people choose low fat food products and eat lean meat.  The problem is that these fat warnings have led some people to avoid ALL fats.  This can be just as harmful. They are throwing out the good with the bad.  WE NEED FATS in our daily diet.  Fats are the basic building blocks of our cells and provide essential energy. They support the immune system and hormone production.  When we eat fats in a meal, we feel more satisfied longer and less likely to over eat. 


Still it is important to differentiate between fats.  Some are harmful to health.  Trans fats (hydrogenated oils, shortenings) – are a human invention with proven negative health effects.  But other fat issues are not so clear.  The saturated vs. unsaturated fat debate is an example.


MCj02961450000[1]The prevailing market message – that saturated fats are bad - is based on forty year old research.  That research was questionable then and has since been proven wrong.  Research in the early 1980’s by Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, Biochemistry and Nutrition, identified that our increased intake of polyunsaturated fats as the real health threat.  Her work, and that of others like hers, was largely ignored and even denied publication because it challenged the prevailing belief about fats.  Coincidentally the food industry was built on producing foods with polyunsaturated fats – changing this would be very costly. 


To this day, nutrition guidelines continue to promote the 1950’s idea that saturated fats are bad for us AND, more generally, that we should avoid fats.  One wonders when and if our beliefs will catch up with nutrition science and, in the process, how many people will suffer from eating bad fats or having too little fat in their diet. 


Clients of Health E Guide can determine if they have enough fats in their diet, the quality of those fats and also whether they are actually metabolizing fats well.