Ever since the fat-free food craze of the ’90s, everyone’s been hating on fat. But fat has long been misunderstood.
To set the record straight — and let go of your fat fears — get the facts:
Myth 1: Eating fat makes you fat.
Truth: The fat you eat is very different from the fat your body stores. Because it takes your body a long time to digest fat, the nutrient helps keeps you full. This stops you from wolfing down extra calories (from any food source) that your body stores as fat — so eating fat can actually help you manage your weight.
For the record, it’s eating too much that leads to weight gain — and refined carbs, which stoke your appetite, tend to be the culprit, says Robert Lustig, M.D., professor at the University of California San Francisco’s School of Medicine and director of the college’s Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health program.
Just like carbs and protein, fat is another type of nutrient. Because it facilitates the absorption of the vitamins responsible for skin and hair health, and is broken down into essential fatty acids that your brain can’t think clearly without, eating fat isn’t an option — it’s a necessity you can’t afford to skimp on.
Myth 3: Trans fat won’t kill you.
Truth: Trans fat can accumulate in your system — so even small amounts can most certainly shorten your life. That’s because trans fats can’t be digested by bacteria, Dr. Lustig explains — it’s why they have long been used to extend the shelf life of many products. The problem with eating such resilient fat is that your body can’t digest it, so it lines your arteries and liver, and creates a dangerous situation that appears to raise the risk of death from any cause, coronary heart disease, and death from cardiovascular disease, according to a recent review published in the medical journalBMJ. “They’re consumable poison,” Dr. Lustig says of trans fats.