Start adding more fat to our daily diets and stop demonizing fat? Yes, according to new articles from medical sources and health/fitness communities alike. They are advising us that it’s not really fat that causes America’s obesity problems. It’s actually the processed, refined foods and sugar in high amounts in American diets.
For years, fat has been given a bad reputation, “It’s bad for you.” “Fat will lead to high cholesterol and heart attacks.” “Stay away from it – it makes you fat.”
As hard as it may be to believe, sugar is much worse for the body than fat, and it’s excess sugar in our diets that is converted into low-density lipoprotein particles – the worst type of cholesterol. The human body isn’t built to process the amount of sugar that the average person consumes, and there’s hidden sugar in an overwhelming number of the foods we buy on a daily basis. Coffee creamers, ketchup, salad dressings (condiments, in general), flavored yogurt, and granola are chocked full of the white stuff. Also, anything labeled “low-fat” has added sugars to compensate for lower flavor once fat is removed. It’s best is to eat the full-fat version, which also promotes a feeling satiety and satisfaction. Skip the additional sugar.
Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are often a concern for men and women over 50, and so, of course, everyone should not start eating buckets of Crisco. Be conscious about the types of fats that you eat, and try to choose unsaturated fats. These include plant-based fats like nuts, avocados, seeds, and coconut oil, as well as fish. Studies have shown that replacing a carbohydrate-rich diet with one that is high in healthy fats “lowers blood pressure, improves lipid levels, and reduces the estimated cardiovascular risk.”
Humans are creatures of habit, and transitioning from a sugar-laden diet can be difficult. So start slowly, rather than suddenly trying to make 50% of your daily calories come from fat. As extra incentive, consider this: Sugar promotes inflammation and can speed up the aging process. Fat, however, promotes functioning nerves (great for anyone with fibromyalgia or arthritis), keeps the joints lubricated (less pain and risk of injury), and helps to keep your skin looking young and supple. For women over 50, think of fat as your ally, as it promotes health and vitality – plus, it keeps you looking good.
Here are some easy ways to start incorporating more healthy fats into your daily diet and minimizing excess sugar:
- Do you usually add a teaspoon or two of sugar to your coffee or tea? Switch to stevia, which is a zero-calorie plant extract.
- Add a few slices of avocado (you can even eat a whole one) to your sandwich or salad.
- A small handful of almonds is surprisingly filling and makes for a great snack. Almonds also work to reduce cholesterol levels, and are a prime source of fiber and protein.
- Want a quick dose of healthy fats? Eat a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning. Not everyone can stomach it in the beginning, so you can also start with a teaspoon and work your way up.
- Ditch the low-fat yogurt with granola for breakfast (total sugar bomb) and eat a few scrambled eggs with a couple strips of bacon instead. It’s a better choice, and you’ll feel fuller for longer.
- Replace all “white foods” – bread, rice, and pasta – with brown or whole-grain varieties.
- Make your own pasta sauce at home, so you can monitor what goes into it. Canned and jarred varieties have added sugar that you don’t need.
- If you have a sweet tooth, reach for fruit instead of that cookie or cupcake. Dark chocolate is also a good choice, as it’s lower in sugar than milk chocolate and has several health benefits.
- Stop drinking sodas on a regular basis. If you love them, try to at least limit them. If you crave fizzy drinks, try sparkling water by itself or with a splash of pure fruit juice (NOT from concentrate!). Perrier with a bit of pomegranate or tart cherry juice is amazing.
- Stock up on all-natural nut butter such as peanut, almond, or cashew butter, avoiding popular brands with too much added sugar. Spread it on whole-grain toast in the morning, or on apples and celery sticks for an easy snack.
- Read food labels before you buy. Notice where sugar or cane sugar appear in order of importance in ingredient listings.
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