My big fat relationship with fat!

Do you still fear fat? Do you think that if you eat full fat food it will pile on the pounds? I remember probably about 20 years ago we were all told eat low fat for everything so much so that you’d probably barely eat anything that resembled food because it was so full of added flavours to make up for the lack of fat.

But what to do with all the conflicting information out there. Today we are still hung up on cholesterol being the enemy without really understanding the relationship between fat and cholesterol and then patients embark on a much lower fat diet which actually starts to mean that they are eating more processed foods because flavour has to come from somewhere as I said above.

I have family members who are on statins and possibly because they are older they will take the practioners advice as gospel on that low fat pathway but then they seem to be looking at low fat for biscuits or cake or bread that’s 50% of white and brown, not particularly healthy food which still raises their intake of sugar and refined carbs.

I admit I have found it a little strange to start eating full fat again and there are times when I think wow that’s indulgent of me to eat the fat on that meat or have full fat greek yoghurt but taste wise — goodness me, how much better does it all taste but more importantly actually my appetite is satiated rather than me craving as I might have done if I had gone for the lower fat option.

So let’s talk cholesterol just for a minute and I am using this extract because it explains more about it very clearly.

“Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. However, cholesterol also is found in some of the foods you eat.

Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins (lip-o-PRO-teens). These packages are made of fat (lipid) on the inside and proteins on the outside.

Two kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout your body: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Having healthy levels of both types of lipoproteins is important.

LDL cholesterol sometimes is called “bad” cholesterol. A high LDL level leads to a build up of cholesterol in your arteries. (Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to your body.)

HDL cholesterol sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver removes the cholesterol from your body.” Taken from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

So if your cholesterol is high as in LDLs are higher than HDLs then this is what gets linked to heart disease and recommendations will be made to lower your saturated fat intake or you could be put on statins (let’s hope diet is looked at first). We have spent probably the last 20+ years associating cholesterol with heart disease.

The testing for cholesterol also looks at triglycerides (which are fats found in dairy, meat, cooking oils and can be made by the liver). Triglycerides will be used either for energy by the cells or get stored as fat.

The body is extremely clever at regulating cholesterol levels and will get rid of any excess that we have taken on through diet and vice versa so what goes wrong then to have so many of us suffering from high cholesterol and being put on medication?

I think always looking at fat as evil stops many people really looking at the whole of their diet and lifestyle. According to BUPA UK high cholesterol is the result of having a highly saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat diet, being overweight, not doing too much exercise and drinking too much alcohol. I would strongly argue that for quite few people, they are not actually eating enough of the right kind of fats to help their body function and probably drinking more alcohol than the body can process easily combined with not being active enough, even if they do go to the gym.

From reading various view points everyone seems to argue with each other. It would be nice if they could all unite and seek the common purpose of helping people get healthy and maybe discuss more what each opinion is saying instead of putting each other down which really does not help people like you and I.

Some say we are still using research that is 40/50 years old and that more recent studies are now starting to state that there is no sufficient evidence to support that saturated fat intake is linked to heart disease. Some studies are now showing strong correlations between eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates as the the pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes which can lead to heart disease and that this is more of an issue than having high cholesterol.

I think we will always have a multitude of information out there and it is important certainly when you might be heading towards the option of being put on medication to look much more closely at what you are eating and why.

Ultimately I am a big advocate for wholesome, real food, and trying to eat as little as possible out of a packet. I also think you should look at the ingredients in everything you eat and if there is more than say 5 ingredients, then look at a healthier option that has less processing.

So my big fat relationship with fat — yes I am eating more fat than I used to and I have changed over to butter and moved away from margarine, again for me it’s the number of ingredients added or used in the process. We don’t eat a lot of red meat but when we do, the fat is still on it, and I try to buy grass fed meat whenever possible.

The consequences of me eating more fat, well to date nothing but good results in that I am training with more energy than I have had in a long time, I don’t crave as much as I used to for sweet things through the day, I haven’t lost much weight but I have changed shape and toned up more. I am enjoying food more than I used to because it has more flavour and having recently had a blood pressure test as part of regular check ups and it is ideal — yes not normal (120/80) but ideal (119/76) so at age 46 I am in the best shape ever.

It certainly won’t be all down to my fat intake but I think my hormones are definitely thanking me for a little more assistance as I get older and move away from that low fat option. I will continue to add olive oil to my salad where I would once normally have had the most dull, uninspiring, dry salad possible and I will continue to cook with coconut oil and rapeseed organic, cold pressed oil with a bit of butter on the side. I won’t drown in it, I might bathe in it (LOL) but I will use it where once I didn’t and will continue to opt for the wholesome, unprocessed foods as much as possible.

Sources of reference: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Heart UK