Fat is Good For You [2]

Fat is Good For You [2]
Low fat diets are actually detrimental because they prevent complete digestion of food and limit nutrient absorption. Low fat diets can promote mineral deficiencies. Calcium, for example, needs fat for proper absorption. For this reason, low-fat diets encourage osteoporosis. It is interesting that we often avoid fat as much as possible and eat low fat foods, including non fat and low fat milk to get calcium, yet by eating reduced fat milks the calcium is not effectively absorbed. This may be one of the reasons why people can drink loads of milk and take calcium supplements yet still suffer from osteoporosis.

Fat is also required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. These include vitamin A, D, E, K and important phytonitrients and antioxidants such as beta-carotene. Too little fat in the diet can lead to deficiencies in these nutrients.

Getting too much fat is less of a problem than getting too little. We are always encouraged to eat less fat because fat is believed to make us fat. This is just not so. Recent studies actually show that people eating the same amount of calories can lose more excess weight on moderate and high fat diets than they can on low fat diets.

The amount of fat in the diet varies greatly around the world. Some people eat a lot while others relatively little. In many traditional diets such as that of the Eskimo, American Plains, and the Masai of Africa, fat historically comprised up to 80 percent of their total calorie intake (and the vast majority of it was saturated fat). Some Pacific island communities consumed up to 60 percent of their calories as fat, mostly from coconut, again primarily saturated fat. Although these people ate large amounts of fat, it was natural unprocessed fat and modern disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer were completely absent among them. Relatively isolated populations that still eat natural fats do not experience heart disease and other degenerative disease common in modern society.

In most countries around the world, fat consumption ranges from 20 to 40 percent of total calories. Health authorities often recommend limiting fat calories to no more than 30 percent. This limit is set primarily as a means to reduce risk of heart disease. However, studies on populations that consume over 30 percent of their calories from fat on average don’t show any higher incidence of heart disease than those who eat less total fat.

A healthy diet should include an adequate amount of good fat. The question that follows is: which fats are good and which aren't? The remainder of this chapter will give you the answers.

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