Is a Fat-Free Diet the Best Choice?


Healthy Fat Options

A few decades ago, fat-free diets were all the rage. Seen as a magic bullet for weight loss, food manufacturers emblazoned as many products as possible with that label and raked in the dollars. Fat-free sounds like a great choice, but is it?

The Lowdown on Dietary Fat

The debate on dietary fat is more nuanced than simply saying all fat is bad. There are different kinds of fats in our foods and the type of fat makes a big difference.

  • Omega-3 fats. The brain is approximately 60 percent fat. It's mostly composed of omega-3 fats that we must obtain from our diets. These fats are plentiful in fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Good plant plant-based sources include chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and walnuts. These fats help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
  • Omega-6 fats. These are also necessary for survival and they must be consumed through dietary sources. These fats help promote brain health, regulate metabolism and promote skin and hair growth. The typical American diet promotes heavy consumption of omega-6 fats. Too many of these fats can actually have negative effects. An ideal diet would balance omega-6 and omega-3 fats at a 4:1 ratio. Increasing omega-3 fats, consuming more balanced foods, like grass-fed meats, and avoiding high omega-6 foods can help achieve this balance. For example, just a teaspoon of corn oil has a 46:1 ratio; while the more desirable olive oil is just 11:1.

As with anything, balance is best. To completely eliminate fat from the diet is detrimental to our overall health. Instead, strive for balance and careful selection and consumption of beneficial omega-3 fats to balance out your diet.

 

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