We will be discussing a myth that has existed since the mid 1960’s and continues to be spoken about to this very day. The idea that foods which contain a ‘fat’ content are more likely to make you obese, and for that reason, should be avoided at all costs in order to lose weight. Unlike many other fitness myths which exist today, this particular narrative has a much more sinister history. Other misunderstood concepts normally exist because of illegitimate studies or simply because people have not done enough research and over time they just become widely accepted. This is not the case in this particular scenario.
Fat has wrongly been at the forefront of foods that should be avoided for a very long time. Although, before we discuss why fat was made out to be the enemy, let us bring to light some of the benefits of fatty foods. Firstly, when we speak about the benefits of fats it must be noted that there are both ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats. In simple terms, good fats come from foods that generally contain a high content of vitamins and minerals that the body could utilise effectively on a daily basis. Some examples of good fats are: eggs, almonds, avocados, salmon, fish oil, olive oil etc. On the other hand, some examples of bad fats (saturated/trans) are: chips, donuts, cakes, butter, biscuits etc.
The benefits of good fats are drastic and can make a big difference to a person who is actively pursuing a healthier diet and lifestyle. Simply put, our bodies need fat in order to function properly, and without a proper consumption of the aforementioned sources of fat our bodies will be worse off. According to numerous studies good fats, specifically omega 3 fatty acids help ‘regulate bodily processes such as heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood pressure, blood clotting and nervous system activity.’ Furthermore, it plays a role in the protection of organs keeping the body insulated, keeping the hair and skin healthy and even making a person feel more ‘full’ compared to other foods. Not to mention the important role good fats play in keeping your hormones balanced.
Here comes the interesting part. Why have we been deceived into thinking all fats are the devil? Everywhere we go we see labels of ‘fat-free’ and think we have a license to consume the product without any consequence. One word: sugar. In the 1960’s the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat, according to a newly published article in JAMA Internal Medicine. These recent studies draw on a number of documents that talk of an industry group called the Sugar Research Foundation. This foundation wanted to disprove the negative realities of sugar and how it is linked to heart disease. The foundation then went on to strike a deal with numerous Harvard scientists that put this new narrative out to the world. Before they knew it, sugar was not an enemy and the blame was solely aimed at fat. This idea was mainstream up until recent years when more research showed the benefits of fat and the negative impact of sugar.