Eating more healthy fats like nuts and full-fat dairy can help reduce cravings for unhealthy carbohydrates like white bread and sugary cereal. Unhealthy carbs cause blood glucose fluctuations that can contribute to weight gain and metabolic syndrome, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
When it comes to dietary fat, what matters most is the type of fat you eat. Contrary to past dietary advice promoting low-fat diets, newer research shows that healthy fats are necessary and beneficial for health.
When food manufacturers reduce fat, they often replace it with carbohydrates from sugar, refined grains, or other starches. Our bodies digest these refined carbohydrates and starches very quickly, affecting blood sugar and insulin levels and possibly resulting in weight gain and disease. The most common additives are high-fructose corn syrup and aspartame (usually labeled on the product, among other additives in the section "With sweeteners").
New findings show no link between the overall percentage of calories from fat and any important health outcome, including cancer, heart disease, and weight gain. Rather than adopting a low-fat diet, it's more important to focus on eating beneficial "good" fats and avoiding harmful "bad" fats. Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet. Choose foods with "good" unsaturated fats, limit foods high in saturated fat, and avoid "bad" trans fat.
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower the disease risk. Choose foods high in good fats include vegetable oils (such as olive, canola, sunflower, soy, and corn), nuts, seeds, and fish.
- "Bad" fats — trans fats — increase disease risk, even when eaten in small quantities. Foods containing trans fats are primarily in processed foods made with trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil.
- While not as harmful as trans fats, saturated fats can negatively impact health and are best consumed in moderation. Foods containing large amounts of saturated fat include processed red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream. Some plant-based fats like coconut oil and palm oil are also rich in saturated fat. When you cut back on processed meat and butter, replace them with fish, beans, nuts, and healthy oils instead of refined carbohydrates.