Hold the Fat

Ever since I can recall, we have been asked to hold the fat. I drink zero fat milk; people say with some degree of pride as if it certifies them as living the healthy life. The origin of this belief goes back to the 1970’s when fat started to become a bad word. People gained weight because of it, or so you thought. Worse, fatty acids and cholesterol came to be identified as the greatest risk factors for Coronary Heart Diseases or CHD. Cutting back would result in a significant reduction of your risk. Several fortunes were made by advertisement personalities extolling the virtues of fat that prevented heart diseases. The actual benefit? Well, the jury is still out.

Most experts today agree that when you are evaluating your lipid profile, conventional thinking is wrong. It is not your overall cholesterol levels that matter but the ratio of Total Cholesterol to HDL (good cholesterol). Saturated fats seem to cause an elevation in both Total Cholesterols as well as HDL. This means that fat helps you produce more good cholesterol. Similarly, replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), the ingredient often touted as the magic ingredient in your fat, does not seem to help reduce the risk of coronary diseases.

A significant number of these beliefs were based on studies done earlier that seemed to suggest that polyunsaturated fats were good for you. My personal belief, based on what I have read and learnt so far is relatively simple. Moderation is good for you. A moderate approach to food applies across all categories of nutrition. As the maxim goes “too much of a good thing can also be bad for you.” Second, sticking to naturally occurring products like ghee or cold pressed olive oil or even fat in meat is probably safe for you; to re-emphasize, in moderation. As for correlations between fat and weight. Sure, if you eat too much of anything it can make you fat, even protein.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.

5 thoughts on “Hold the Fat

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