Eat More Fat

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on July 9, 2015 · 0 comments

Eating recommendations come from a balance of scientific evidence and scientific judgment, called an evidence-based approach. Experts gather research and use their trained judgment to make recommendations about what to eat, how to eat, and when to eat. But science keeps moving ahead and the evidence keeps changing. The recommendations about fat are perfect examples of this evolution of scientific findings.

It is not the amount but the type of fat we eat.

In the mid-1980s we were urged to lower our fat intake. What the experts really meant was that we should eat fewer high fat foods and eat more fruits, vegetables and healthy whole grains. Food companies saw this marketing opportunity and soon the supermarkets were flooded with nonfat or lowfat cookies, ice cream, salad dressing, cheese, and sour cream. This diet shift did not achieve what the researchers had proposed. We had swapped sugar and starch for fat and very few people increased the amount of fruit, vegetable or whole grains they ate.

As the science of fats continued to evolve researchers learned that some fats were healthy and others were less healthy. They recommended that people eat more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat (vegetable oils) and eat less saturated fat (animal fats). Today we are recommending a moderate amount of fat — not a lowfat diet — and that trans fat (solid fats used in baking and food processing like shortening) should be avoided.

Sadly the only message that was heard by most consumers, loud and clear, is that fat is bad for you. But we know now that simply isn’t true.

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