Posted by: Hil | July 25, 2008

Fat = Flavor (and apparently health, too)

The subject of dietary fat and health just seemed to be popping up all over the place.  Last Wednesday, I posted about a new study that suggests that a low-fat diet isn’t the only or best way to lose weight and improve health.  Studies like this make me happy, as I am invariably the most content (and the thinnest) when I eat plenty of healthy fats with every meal.  Fat is delicious!

Then LBD posted about a prospective study of over 18,500 women suggesting that women who eat full fat dairy are much less prone to a certain type of infertility than women who eat low-fat dairy.  I read the study with fascination.  The researchers seemed a bit baffled by their findings, but suggested a number of possible explanations:  dairy fat might improve ovulatory function, some fat-soluble nutrient might improve ovulatory function, higher estrogen levels in full fat dairy might be beneficial, or the lower GI of full fat dairy might promote insulin sensitivity, which might have positive effects on ovulation.  It’s interesting to me that the low-fat products most closely correlated with infertility were also probably the highest in sugar: sherbet, frozen yogurt and yogurt.  At any rate, I will take three things from this study:  1.  There are no real foods that should be avoided absolutely.  2.  USDA advice to get at least three servings of fat-free dairy a day should not be taken as gospel.  (Nor should the rest of the USDA’s food advice, but that’s another post.)  3.  I get to keep my goat cheese and cream for my coffee without guilt. 🙂

Then I talked to my mom, who just got back from her yearly checkup.  My mom does decided to ditch low fat eating about 10 years ago and has been cooking full-fat and full-flavor ever since.  While she doesn’t limit fat in her diet, she eats very, very little sugar and refined carbohydrates and she eats lots of vegetables and whole grains.  Her eating pretty much boils down to eating whole, minimally processed foods.  Sometimes that takes the form of lentil soup and sometimes it takes the form of fabulous blue cheeseburgers (no bun) and a chopped salad with full fat dressing. So how have 10 years of full-fat eating treated her?  Her HDL (good cholesterol) is through the roof, her triglycerides are low and her ratios are off-the-charts good: significantly better than the recommended low-risk ranges.   While this is definitely anecdotal evidence, I take my mom’s experience as one more data point suggesting that fat is not the bogey-man that it has been made out to be.

I limit my saturated fat intake, both because of health reasons and because I find that doing so helps me to maintain my weight.  But if I want chocolate or cream or full fat cheese or the occasional cheeseburger, I’m going to eat it.  Life is too short to constantly eat pale reflections of the food that you really want.  And as for nuts, olive oil, eggs, peanut butter and avocado?  Bring them on!



  1. good fats always taste great too, thank god! you’re right though, life is too short to get hung up about grams of fat all the time – all about balance 🙂

  2. What a fabulous post! Kudos to you. I loved reading this!

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