Do you always choose the low-fat option, because it’s better for you? Some people follow a very low-fat diet, because they believe fat is the “enemy” that’ll give them heart disease and make them fat as well. Too much fat is certainly not a good thing, but is it possible to get too little fat?
Is a Very Low-Fat Diet Healthy?
Fats serve an important function in the body. When you take a walk around the block, your body uses fat as its primary fuel source. Without fat stores to mobilize for fuel, you wouldn’t be able to walk very far.
Fats also helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins by the small intestines. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K – all of which are critical for good health. People who eat too little fat or follow a very low fat diet are at risk for deficiencies of these vitamins.
In addition, some fat in the diet helps to slow down gastric emptying, which increases satiety and reduces the risk of overeating.
Low-Fat Diets and the Risk of Heart Disease
You’ve probably heard that eating too much fat leads to heart disease, but a new study shatters this conventional way of thinking. Researchers at Tufts University and the Harvard School of Public Healthy point out that some low-fat diets may have the opposite effect. They may actually increase the risk of heart disease. When people eat a very low-fat diet, they eat more carbohydrates, which raises insulin levels and indirectly contributes to heart disease.
Healthy Fats are the Answer
The key is to eat a diet that contains moderate amounts of fat – and choose healthy fats. Saturated fats aren’t the best choice, but monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are. Choose healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, fatty fish, avocado and nuts rather than the saturated fats in red meat and high-fat dairy. These fats help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and fill you up without raising the risk of heart disease. In fact, these fats help to lower lipid levels, which lower heart disease risk.
Too Little Fat vs. Health Fats: The Bottom Line?
Don’t fall into the trap of eating a very low-fat diet. Choose healthy fats, and keep fats at between 25% and 30% of your total calories. Eating too little fat is almost as bad as eating too much.
Food Navigator-USA.com. “Low-Fat Diets Could Increase Heart Disease Risk, Say Nutrition Experts”.