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The Truth About Fat: Is Eating “Low Fat” Healthy?

on September 25, 2012 by Jami Balmet 13 comments

Welcome back to another edition of Real Foods Explained series.  Catch up on the rest of the series.

For a while the latest diet craze was “low fat”. Skim dairy, low fat foods, margarine, ect. This seemed the “key” to losing weight and staying healthy. I grew up eating margarine and don’t even remember having real fatty butter in my house.

But is this the key to a healthy diet? Is cutting out all fat necessary and good for you? No, fat is actually part of every balanced diet and in fact, low fat products can be bad for you.

Fat Is Not Always To Blame

It’s not secret that we live in society that has a problem with weight. With the popularity of convenience foods and fast food restaurants, our society has a real problem. The most popular thing now for a few years has been to blame “fat”. American’s consume too much fat.

I agree with this. When you head to McDonald’s and order a Big Mac, with extra large fries, and a large Pepsi…yes you are taking in too much fat. You are consuming many empty calories of sugar from the soda (which turns into fat in your body) and trans fat from the french fries and burgers.

Yes, these kinds of fats should be eliminated from your diet. But there is a difference between good fats and bad fats. Bad fats should be eliminated and replaced with healthy foods, but good fats (such as those found in whole milk) are very beneficial and essential to a healthy diet.

Bad Fats

Bad fats are prevalent in our society and should be eliminated from our diets. Most bad fats are found in highly processed foods and not in natural food like milk. So what are “bad fats”.

  • Trans fat and hydrogenated oils – These facts are processed and manipulated in a way to give them a longer shelf life. This is great for manufacturers and all the processed food we like to eat. A good example of this is margarine. It has been processed in a way to have a very long shelf life and is full of bad hydrogenated oils that our body has a really hard time breaking down and have little to no  nutritional value.
  • Processed Vegetable Oils – These are the types of oils that you want to avoid. This is oils such a safflower, sunflower, corn, canola and other processed oils.

 

Good Fats
  • Natural Oils – These oils are largely unprocessed and good fats for your body: Coconut oil,  virgin olive oil, palm oil, and fish oils. You still want to limit your intake of oils but these are the healthy ones you should use for cooking and baking.
  • Butter – Full fat butter made from cow’s milk.
  • Nuts and Seeds – They are an excellent source of nutrition and good fat! Eating a handful of nuts and seeds every day is an excellent addition to your diet.
  • Avocados – Yes, they do contain fat but it’s such a healthy fat
  • Full Fat Dairy – Yes, you should be consuming full fat milk, yogurt, butter, and even ice cream. The fats in dairy are healthy fats. See below for the dangers of “low fat”.

 

The Benefits of Full Fat Dairy

So there are some fats that we should avoid and some that are actually good for us, but what’s the deal with “low fat”. Many people tell you in that avoiding things like french fries, you should also switch to low fat products such as low fat yogurt and low fat milk.

For example in one yoplait 6 oz carton there is 27 g of sugar whereas the low fat counterpart has only 14 g of sugar. This seems like a good idea then right? Wrong, even the low fat yoplait contains far too much sugar. Highly processed yogurts like this contain far too much sugar and processed chemicals.

Studies show that full fat dairy is much healthier for you.  When low fat dairy is processed, many of these beneficial things are lost. Full fat products are loaded full of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. when the milk is processed too make low-fat, many of the nutrients are removed. When you drink skim milk, most of the nutrients are gone.

The Dangers of Low Fat Dairy

When low fat milk is “created”, the manufacturers have to replace the missing flavor and ingredients. Often they substitute by adding dried milk powder to it. “This also causes the milk’s cholesterol to become oxidized which is a legitimate risk for heart disease” (source). Skim milk has also been linked to cancer. This isn’t as risk I want to take when full fat is so much healthier for you. Vitamin A is also greatly reduced in skim milk. Full fat contains a lot of healthy vitamin A.

The discussion of fats is such a hot topic right now. Many companies want us to think that all fat is bad and we should buy the less natural and more processed foods. But this is not the case and a lot of research has been done on the subject. This is too big of a subject to go into in one post. Here are some other fabulous resources on the subject.

Read more in the series {here} and come back all month long for more information, great recipes, tips, and a few awesome giveaways!

Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. H Jami 🙂 🙂

    I defnitely do NOT believe in a low-fat diet. I’m all about the fat….all the time, as long as it’s from healthy sources 🙂 🙂 In fact, that’s been one of the huge keys in my weight-loss over the last year. I’m more satisfied with full-fat food, and because of that I don’t have to eat as much either 😉 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 😉

  2. This is such a huge hurdle for people to get over when it comes to transitioning to a real food diet as it flies in teh face of everything they’ve heard for so long from the “experts”. But ALL the evidence proves it is true! You preach it, sister 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing the wonderful information! I have gone through each of the links you posted and put some books on hold at the library to learn even more. I had come across this information before but never researched it in depth for myself. My gut was leading me to change, but now I feel bolstered in going to full-fat dairy. Thanks!!

  4. Hey Jami,

    I’ve found this series really helpful – thank you for sharing your knowledge. It has definitely got me thinking about grocery items and eating/shopping habits of my own that I need to reconsider.

    I’ve also recently read your freezer cooking series. I’m just wondering where your book ‘Once a Month Cooking Family Favourites’ fits in with your healthy eating habits? Is it on the same page as you, or do you find you have to modify the recipes to make healthier meal versions? If they are healthy recipes, I think I might be won over to purchasing the book for myself.

    • I am so glad Kim!! 🙂 I am constantly having to reevaluate what I am eating (I type this as I eat a roll of ritz crackers ;)!

      I find that I have to modify some recipes in it. For example there is one spaghetti recipe that the base of it is canned tomato soup. So I can either skip that meal or just make my own spaghetti instead. Usually the things I have to modify are homemade dried beans instead of canned beans and things like that. But the modifications are usually really easy 🙂 When they ask for tortillas I just subsistence homemade ones or buy whole wheat. Ultimately the meals are mostly made from scratch and are mostly healthy. Any recipes that you don’t like…you can simply skip! I think the cookbook is at least worth a try. It’s my favorite one I have ever owned! Hope this helps 🙂

  5. […] the milk’s cholesterol to become oxidized which is a legitimate risk for heart disease” (source). Skim milk has also been linked to cancer. This isn’t as risk I want to take when full fat […]

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