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A Better You
by Jo Ann Fore

The Fat-Free Lie

I loaded my shopping cart to the hilt with all the right labels – fat-free, zero transfat, reduced fat, and low fat – yet still gained about 10 pounds. How could that be?

I’m certain it had something to do with my lack of remorse in devouring massive quantities of my new fat-free favorites. But hey, they’re fat free – what could it hurt?

I soon discovered, a little late, the damage that can come from consuming more calories than needed in the name of ‘fat-free’ living.

 

 

Americans are slowly waking to the same realization. In Eat Fat, Lose Weight (Keats Publishing, 1999) we see that:

Advertisers have learned that the words fat free, low fat, or reduced fat translate into an instant sales boost. Just take a look at how low-fat Snackwells have replaced Oreos as the nation's best-selling cookie. The magic adjectives "low fat" and "fat free" seem to convey to us that we have unlimited permission to scarf down whole boxes of the stuff - without getting fat!

So let's look at the evidence. Since we as a nation have gone fat free, here's what has happened:

1. Obesity has increased more than 23 percent.

2. Adult-onset diabetes has skyrocketed.

3. The incidence of certain kinds of heart diseases has increased.

4. Depression has become a widespread national disorder.

5. Immune system viral infections like chronic fatigue and other illnesses are rampant.

A national survey conducted in 2002 by American Sports Data, Inc. revealed that 61% of all adults in the U.S. felt that they were overweight. If ‘fat-free’ is that good for us, why are so many of us getting fat? Remember: Fat free does not equate guilt-free. It isn’t a license to eat as much as you want – there are still calories in the food we consume, fat or not.


Good Fat / Bad Fat
Contrary to what we might believe, some fat consumption is necessary. All fat is not harmful. Eat Fat, Lose Weight explains:

"The best solution is to decrease saturated fats and avoid transfats," said… Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health. "And replace these unhealthy fats with healthy ones - monounsaturates and polyunsaturates from natural vegetable oils."

A basic rule is that the body is accustomed to fats that occur in foods naturally. Some naturally occurring fats are more beneficial than others, but, in general, the body can process natural fats much more easily than fats altered by man-made processes. Natural fats, especially unsaturated natural fats like the omega oils, are particularly suited for efficient use. Pliable and soft, unsaturated natural fats are easily formed into the necessary elements for the body's needs. As I noted earlier, these natural fats are components of all the vital organs, including the brain and nervous system.

Foods high in saturated fats and transfats – our bad fat – can cause high cholesterol. Limit your intake of foods that contain high amounts of these like: egg yolks, butter, ice cream, fatty meats, avocados, cheese, coconut oil, sour cream, whole milk and cream products, fried foods, processed meats and foods, margarines, and commercially baked goods: donuts, pastries and cookies.

Foods high in natural fats – our good fat – help absorb necessary vitamins and minerals. The foods to include, in moderation, in your regular diet are: salmon, nuts, olive oil albacore tuna, flaxseed oil, and canola oil.

It’s a lie that fat is our enemy. It is a necessary component of a healthy diet. But the key is moderation, balance, and picking the right type of fat. I think that should be a required food label: Low-fat but deceivingly addictive, due to high amounts of sugars and carbohydrates.



Jo Ann Fore welcomes your comments about this article or suggestions for material you would like to see in future articles. Email her at: JoAnnFore@msn.com. A Better You is published every Saturday.

 


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