Health & Wellness

FAT or Fiction

08.06.11 Olive Oil

So, what is the deal with fat? Is it good for us?  Is it bad for us?  Who can keep it all straight these days?  It’s safe to say, since the “fat free” craze of the 1990s many of us are programmed to avoid fat thinking it will make us overweight.  To sift through the information and myths, we turned to Cotton Candy’s go-to Registered Dietitian Amy Shapiro and founder of Real Nutrition NYC.  She gives us the real skinny on fat.

Myth No. 1 Fat makes you fat.

The right types of fat can actually keep you lean.  Fat from nuts, vegetable oils, avocado, dairy and fish make your skin look great, improve your memory and protect your heart while helping you shed pounds.  Heart-healthy fats help to keep you satiated and satisfied.  A small serving of nuts as a snack will keep you full longer than a large helping of pretzels.

Myth No. 2 All fats are bad fats.

There are a lot, if not too many, bad fats lurking in our foods.  The two main so-called bad fats are saturated and trans fats found in animal products (butter, meat, whole milk and cheese) or as partially hydrogenated oils (in processed foods and baked goods).  These fats can produce heart disease and weight gain, so use them sparingly.  Good fats – poly and mono unsaturated fats and Omega 3 fatty acids – are also plentiful in our foods.   Think olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocado, flax and cold-water fish.  These fats protect our hearts, organs and skin while nourishing our bodies and keeping us lean.  Remember though, fats contain calories so they should all be consumed in moderation.

Myth No. 3 Fat-free foods are great for weight-loss.

This is a major fallacy.  When they remove fat from food they increase the sugar content in order to maintain the yummy flavor.  But, sugar, if not burned, gets stored as fat.  Often when you eat a fat-free item, you tend to eat more than you would if you just ate the real thing.  Two regular cookies will do less damage to your waist than four or five of the fat-free treats.

Myth No. 4 It’s a healthy fat, so eat as much as you want.

Fat is fat. Remember that.  Calories are still calories, so just because nuts are good for you doesn’t mean you can eat the whole bowl during happy hour.  Twenty-four almonds have 160 calories and 16 grams of fat; one tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories and 14 grams of fat.  Keep your servings small to reap the benefits.

Myth No. 5 If you have high cholesterol you should avoid eggs and shrimp.

The truth is your lifestyle behaviors are likely affecting your cholesterol more than those healthy foods.  Eating processed foods that contain white flour and simple sugars, smoking, not exercising and drinking alcohol are more likely the culprits.

Cotton Candy Magazine®