Many in the Rochester, NY area may turn to low-fat products when trying to have a healthier diet. These products claim to be healthier alternatives to their conventional counterparts which contain original fat content. Does replacing the fat in products actually make them healthier? Let’s dive into how the trend of “low fat” products started, the truth behind fat in your diet, and if these products are as healthy as they appear.
Nutritional fat started to get a bad name in the 1980s. During that time, multiple studies came out that showed a correlation between reduction in saturated fats leading to better heart health. The market began to take advantage by replacing saturated fats in foods with processed and “healthier” unsaturated fats. Unfortunately, the process that creates unsaturated fats also produces trans fats. These types of fats would later be discovered to have a significantly worse effect on heart health than saturated fats. When the truth came out about trans fats, companies instead blamed all fats for any negative health effects. To help combat the dangers of fat on human nutrition, low fat and fat-free products began to be produced.
Humans evolved consuming fat for energy and we have developed a palate that enjoys the taste of fat in foods. When companies removed fat, they needed to replace the taste that was removed as well. A lot of sugar and artificial sweeteners are added to fill the void of flavor left by removing the fat. In some cases, low-fat products will have more calories than their full-fat counterparts due to added sugar.
The reason fat tastes so good is because it is an essential part of our diet. We need fat to maintain blood vessels, make hormones, heal properly, and keep our nervous system operating at peak performance. Fat will also help with the absorption of certain vitamins when consumed together. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all absorbed more efficiently in the gut when consumed with a high-fat meal. Fats also play an important role in the signaling of hunger to the brain. Consuming fats triggers the release of cholecystokinin, the molecule that informs the brain the stomach is full, reducing hunger cravings.
Fat does contain a lot of calories, but it is not something we can completely remove from our diet. The focus needs to be more on the types of fats being consumed. Try to eat more healthy fats such as those found in fish, nuts, and seeds. These foods are rich in omega-3 fats that help reduce inflammation, improve the immune system, and enhance weight loss. If you are not sure if you are getting the right amount of fat in your diet, try tracking your meals. Your fat intake should be around 20-30% of your total calories.
If you are looking for help tracking your meals, give us a call at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic. The nutritionist at our Rochester, NY office has been helping people learn to take control of their health through nutritional tracking and lifestyle modifications. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation.