There are so many faddy diets and weird food rules online that it can be hard to work out food facts from food fiction. One day it seems a healthy diet means giving up carbs, and the next day everyone is talking about cramming avocado and kale, or quitting sugar.
But there’s no need to get mixed up with the latest weird trends if you want to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Just rely on sources you trust to give you sound dietary advice – like the NHS – and take anything not backed up with a full study (on humans, not rats) with a pinch of salt. To help you sort facts from food chatter, we’ve put together a myth-buster full of tips and tricks. Remember food is a social thing too; so don’t let diet extremes get to you. There are plenty of great things that we shouldn’t deny ourselves because we’re lost in confusion about diet, read on for some revelations.
Learning About Fats
One of the issues talked about most when it comes to healthy eating is fat. Fat used be seen as the enemy, and there was an explosion of low-fat fads over the 1980s and 90s. But these days, experts see things a little differently.
Myth 1: Fat Should be Avoided
This makes intuitive sense because of the word fat. Eating lots must be bad, right? But no, fat is an essential part of everyone’s diet and absolutely necessary for the normal functioning of the human body. The key to a healthy, balanced diet is to eat the recommended amount and right types of fat. It’s definitely not about banishing it forever.
Myth 2: All Fat is Bad
This brings us onto the second common myth about fat: that all high fat foods are equally bad. This just isn’t the case, and as with lots of diet myths, the truth is a bit more positive. There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat is thought of as the “bad” fat, while unsaturated fat is the “good kind”. To eat a balanced diet, we need to understand how much we are getting of both, and then look to replace foods high in saturated fat with those high in unsaturated fat where possible.
Foods high in saturated fat include full fat dairy products like butter and milk; fatty meat; cakes; and biscuits. Those high in unsaturated fat include oily fish (such as salmon or sardines), nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and avocado.
Myth 3: Fat Increases Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance created by the liver that is needed for many bodily functions. Too much cholesterol in the blood is one of the risk factors of heart disease. People tend to associate high cholesterol levels with a high fat diet, but as we’ve just seen this is a bit simplistic. In fact, as long as your fat intake is within the recommended limits, swapping saturated fats for unsaturated fats in your diet may actually help lower your cholesterol levels. So once again, it’s all about what types of fat you eat, not getting rid of them entirely.
Myth 4: Cholesterol is Bad For Your Health
OK, so we’ve just said that elevated cholesterol is one of the risk factors of heart disease. However, it’s also important to note that there are two types of cholesterol. Confusing, right? There’s so-called ‘good cholesterol’ (HLD-cholesterol) and ‘bad cholesterol’ (LDL-cholesterol). It’s LDL-cholesterol that needs to be lowered, while HDL-cholesterol can help to regulate LDL-cholesterol, taking it back to the liver to be destroyed. If you’re ever discussing cholesterol levels or looking up information online, then make sure you know which is being discussed.
Of course, these are just a few myths that have been circulating on the important topic of fat. Whenever you read information about food, diet or health always be sure to get your information from reputable sources such as the NHS and ignore faddy diets. If in doubt, speak to your GP for advice and guidance.