When we think of fats in our food, we shriek in fear. We use air-fryers, we skip the butter and we scrape off any fat from the meat we eat.
Bought by tales of fats causing cholesterol-jammed arteries and obesity, we often think that fats are the devil’s work and must be exorcised from our daily intake of foods. I myself have boiled many things (which tastes absolutely terrible) to evade this villainous nutrient.
Certainly, fats, like any other nutrient when taken to excess is bad. However, there are many benefits that fat provides to our body, unbeknownst to us.
Here, we break down some myths about fats, and how it can be an unlikely ally in the crusade for good health.
Myth #1: Fats Will Make You Fat
Eating too much of anything will make you gain weight, due to an excess of calories. However, it is not true that dietary fats per se, when compared against other foods, cause a greater increase in weight gain.
In order to gain weight, the food that is consumed must be converted into fat by your liver and adipose tissue. This conversion is initiated by insulin, which is secreted by your pancreas.
Fat is relatively difficult to digest, and it takes longer to turn them into actionable energy for the body. This means that it does not cause spikes in insulin levels, which means there is not a great incentive for the body to store a lot of the fat.
Comparatively speaking, carbohydrates, a staple in most people’s diets as it gives energy quickly, is far quicker to digest.
Enzymes in our saliva already start to break down the sugars, and can be fully digested by our stomach. It also does not require bile to emulsify, unlike fats.
This means that foods like white bread, white rice, and other foods where you can find simple sugars cause massive spikes in your blood sugar level shortly after consumption, which induces a surge in your insulin – unfortunately ramping up fat storage.
In fact, high fats and low carbohydrates is actually a popular dieting trend right now, with many proponents for its effectiveness.
Despite the benefits, fat is still a very caloric dense nutrient, containing 9 calories per gram. It is still important to not overeat your fats!
Myth #2: Fats Will Clog My Arteries
It is a widespread belief that fats will “clog arteries, and lead to heart disease”. The truth is in fact far more complicated.
There are two main types of fats, saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are fats that tend to be solid at room temperature. They are found in products, like butter, fatty meats, cheese, coconut milk etc.
Saturated fats may increase levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL), although in recent years the link has been increasingly challenged. It is, however, advisable to consume saturated fats in moderation.
Unsaturated fats are fats that tend to be liquid at room temperature. They include olive oils, vegetable oils, avocados etc.
On the hand, unsaturated fats have been shown to work incredibly well to decrease levels of LDL within your body.
This came from an interesting discovery in the high-fat Mediterranean diet, and how many of its subscribers had significantly lower rates of coronary heart disease.
Who knew, that you could fight fats with fats?
There Are Many Other Benefits
Beyond what has been mentioned, there are many other health benefits of fats that cannot be ignored.
Certain fats, like Omega-3 fatty acids, may lower inflammation, lowering the risk for heart disease and obesity. Fats are also crucial for your body to absorb certain nutrients – you need fats to serve as a solvent for certain vitamins.
In general, fats, just like the other nutrients, should be eaten in moderation. Too much of it is still likely to cause diseases like obesity. However, there are many things that only fats can do in our body, and we absolutely need fats.
Sometimes, a little fat isn’t bad.
And of course, if you really want to lose the fats in your body, simply have lower calorie intake. That, my dear readers, is science.
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