In the 1980s & 90s we were told to lay off fatty food. Well, that did not work very well as obesity has increased significantly since then. What happened? According to the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter (March 2019) we substituted refined carbohydrates for the energy we were getting from fats and gained weight. In other words,
we substituted foods with poor nutritional value such as low-fat cereals, salty snacks, salad dressings, muffins, cookies and other sweets for the fats we had previously consumed for energy. (A gram of fat has over twice the number of calories as does a gram of carbs or protein so reducing fat makes some sense if weight loss is desired.)
Today, there is increasing evidence that reducing refined carbohydrates and re-introducing selected fats into our diets is healthy for us. In fact, nutrition scientists have found that incorporating poly- and mono-unsaturated fats into our diet reduces the threat of having cardiovascular disease. As one who has eight stents implanted into his cardiovascular arteries, I can vouch for the harmful effects of refined carbs in the diet.
What foods contain these good fats? See the TAKE CHARGE figure below. Research has shown that over-consuming refined carbs reduces blood levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol but increases levels of triglycerides and reduces HDL (good) cholesterol. This is because the liver turns excess dietary carbs into fat, especially saturated fat. While it is not a good idea to remove all carbs from are diets, we should be consuming fruits, legumes, non-starchy vegetables and minimally processed whole grains. However, it is important not to make dietary decisions on fat content alone as most foods contain more than one kind of fat which may often contain other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and fiber. “It’s all about balance,” say the researchers at Tufts.