In the 80s through the 90s and well past the noughties, the low fat diet reigned supreme.
Thirty years ago our mother wanted to look like Jane Fonda and in the case of my best friend’s mum, quite possibly even emulated her whole gym look, right down to the leotard, sweat band, big hair and scrunched leg warmers. (Yes really).
The teenage you might have gazed enviously at the super lean Kate Moss staring nonchalantly out of the pages of Cleo Magazine.
While the grown up you – well really, where do you begin? We may covet the toned musculature of Michelle Bridges, or the curves of Beyonce or the general thinness of a dozen or so interchangeable celebrities.
No matter what decade – the concept that fatty foods make you fat – was as much of an accepted truth as the inevitability of death and taxes.
But now, it seems the tide has turned. Fats are no longer our worst enemy. Sugar has well and truly stolen that crown.
In the quest to avoid fats for many decades, we have unwittingly and exponentially increased our sugar consumption. Low fat diets are also responsible for vitamin deficiencies in some people.
Without a doubt, fats are an important part of a healthy diet, but not all fats are created equal.
It’s no coincidence that a diet high in processed foods cause weight gain. It is the types of fats in these foods that are the bone fide bad guys. Trans fats, partially hydronated fats and saturated fats, contribute to health problems such as high cholesterol.
The good fats are the ones nature gives us – not the ones created in a lab or from animal sources.
This does indeed put the kybosh on that stick of butter, but luckily three of the healthiest fats also happen to be some of the tastiest and most versatile.
EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
The staple of Mediterranean cooking is a heart-healthy fat which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, said to reduce the risk of cognitive decline associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s while also lowering levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Diabetics may benefit from olive oil as it may also help control insulin and blood sugar levels.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is so loaded with antioxidants that its consumption is associated with greater longevity. This good oil literally lubricates our digestive system to the benefit of our stomach, pancreas and intestines. And it makes our skin glow. Best used at room temperature or in gentle cooking.
What’s not to love here?
Another rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids is the buttery-textured and deliciously delicate avocado. Its creamy taste makes it perfect as a satisfying boost to a salad, or as a butter substitute in a wrap or a sandwich. The good fats in Avocado may assist with the absorption of antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene more effectively, so buddy one up with a juicy tomato or a crunchy carrot to reap maximum benefit.
The tropical oil of the moment, coconut oil, contains a special type of fat called short term medium chain saturated fatty acids, which is the healthy form of saturated fat (unlike trans fats).
Coconut Oil is being studied for its benefits in regulating metabolism. One study in 2009 suggested that it actually reduces abdominal fat.
Aside from that exciting news, coconut oil supports our inner health as the plethora of fatty acids contribute antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties to boost our immune system.
Coconut Oil is also an excellent cooking oil as it has a high smoking point. Unlike most polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils which will actually oxidise at high temperatures, creating free radicals.
So now you’ve got the skinny on fat, you can be confident that rather than our ‘sometimes food’, healthy fats should form part of our everyday diet.
These three good fats help eliminate sugar cravings, give us a load of health benefits, and with any luck, a Jane Fonda envy-inducing booty that your mother will surely love.