Perhaps Fat Is Not a Nutritional Enemy after All
It wasn’t too long ago that science was telling us to avoid fat like the plague. If you are older than 40, you might even remember the food pyramid from your elementary school days, a pyramid that made it clear that fat was a no-no. That may not be the case, according to Harvard nutrition and obesity expert, Dr. David Ludwig.
Ludwig was recently profiled by Tech Insider’s Rebecca Harrington who wrote a very compelling piece relating to the doctor’s book entitled, “Always Hungry?”. Harrington discussed how we have been convinced to avoid fat in favor of more carbohydrates in our diets. But, as she points out, processed carbohydrates are no better than fat itself. They might even be worse. Consider Harrington’s explanation of processed carbs:
“When we eat processed carbohydrates, like white bread or cookies, the insulin levels in our body skyrocket. Ludwig’s idea is that this spike in insulin makes our fat cells suck up calories and hold on to them. With so many calories being stored in fat cells, he says, the amount of calories in the blood are lower, so the brain thinks that the body is hungry.”
Ludwig proposes avoiding processed carbohydrates and replacing them with good fats. Some of the fats he proposes come from foods many of us already enjoy: avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Ludwig says that eating good fats satisfies the desire for delicious food without being harmful to the body. Of course, he says that along with those good fats we also need to eat plenty of healthy foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole foods.
Moderation and Nutrition Go Hand-In-Hand
Without having actually read Dr. Ludwig’s book, it would be impossible to say that he is right on all accounts. But the basis of his proposition is fairly sound nutritional science. What is that basis? That moderation and nutrition go hand-in-hand. Keep in mind that the body is very complex in terms of the things it needs to maintain good health. Cutting out one particular kind of food because people tend to eat too much of it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
The idea of consuming no fat of any kind is just as dangerous as consuming no sodium. Consider this: the body needs an ample supply of sodium in order to carry electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body. A lack of adequate sodium can lead to a condition known as hyponatremia which, in turn, can lead to muscle weakness, nerve problems, low blood pressure, seizures, and a host of other conditions.
The thing to remember is that every human body needs to maintain a certain level of sodium. Likewise, the human body also needs fat in order maintain healthy levels of good cholesterol, control triglycerides and maintain hormonal balance.
Dr. Ludwig’s assertion that there are good and bad fats is right on. We know saturated fats are bad, but unsaturated fats are actually very healthy. In addition to the previously mentioned avocados, nuts and olive oil, there are certain kinds of fish that are very good sources of fat. Flaxseed and walnuts are also great sources.
It turns out that fat is not the nutritional enemy we have been led to believe. Fat is an essential part of the human diet just as sodium is. The key is to eat the right kinds of fats and in moderation. When combined with a nutritionally balanced diet, unsaturated fats are very good for the body.