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Fat Fallacies

Common Misconceptions About Fat

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Just when we got used to hearing that all fat was bad, we started to hear that only some fat was bad, and that certain kinds of fat were actually good for us. Rather than clarify matters, it seems that we're more confused about fats than ever. Here are some common misconceptions.

We don't need fat in our diet

Actually, yes you do. Fat is necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, for proper neurological function, healthy skin and hair, protecting vital organs, and to help keep us warm. The problem is that we eat too much fat, and mostly the wrong kind.

Eating low fat is the best way to lose weight

For many, yes, but for others, no. Unless you're also cutting portion sizes, reducing the amount of refined carbohydrates--particularly sugar, and doing some kind of daily exercise--eating low fat might not be enough. Some people replace fat calories by snacking on processed low-fat foods, many of which contain high levels of sodium and sugar.

 

Saturated fats and trans fats have more calories than other fats

Actually, no. One gram of fat, whatever its source, is worth nine calories. The issue with saturated fats and trans fats is how the body uses and stores them, and their effect on our cholesterol levels and cardiovascular system

If unsaturated fats are heart healthy, we don't need to limit them

While unsaturated fats are indeed considered heart healthy, consuming fats in excess, no matter what kind, can lead to weight gain and all its associated health problems. Limit your fat intake to 30 percent of total calories or less, and within that, choose unsaturated fats over saturated ones.

Fast-food fries are a healthy option now that trans fats are being replaced

Fries are still fried, and fried foods are neither low fat nor low calorie.

Foods stating 0 grams of trans fats are healthy

No. Where trans fats have been eliminated, they have mostly been replaced with saturated fats. Look on the nutrition facts label and check. If you see palm oil, palm kernel oil, or coconut oil listed, these are all highly saturated fats. Saturated fats are linked to high cholesterol and heart disease. Some argue that the tropical oils are metabolized differently and are less harmful than animal-based saturated fats. Not everyone agrees.

Foods can be labeled trans-fat-free if they contain less than 0.5g trans fats per serving. If a serving size is one cookie, and you eat four cookies that day, you'll have eaten close to 2 grams of trans fats.

I should eat more salads if I want to eat low fat

It depends. Salads come in all shapes and forms—many are loaded with cheeses and meat. Salad dressings are a notorious fat trap even if you stick to a stipulated two-tablespoon serving size. Your best bet is a simple vinaigrette, with a reverse ratio of oil to vinegar—i.e., three parts vinegar to one part oil.
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