When it comes to fat consumption, it often seems like there’s a lot of noise and little agreement about how much (or how little) you should eat. This can be frustrating for people who are trying to be healthy and follow expert recommendations, and it’s tempting to try to eliminate fat intake altogether and let the experts fight it out.
But is the amount of fat you eat really the issue? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, it’s time to end the low-fat myth. Research has shown that the number of calories from fat that you eat, whether high or low, isn’t really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat.
- Unsaturated fats, which are found in nuts, avocadoes, fish and vegetable oils, are considered “good” fats. Some of these, like omega-3 fatty acids, are considered essential fats that must be eaten regularly because the body cannot produce them internally.
- Saturated fats, which are found in cheese, butter, red meat and some oils, have long been seen as a key culprit of heart disease and high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat consumption, but cautions against doing so by choosing products that replace fat with sugars and other refined carbohydrates.
- Trans fats are found in heavily processed breads, baking mixes, shortening, snack foods and fried foods. For once, there is little disagreement—the overwhelming scientific consensus suggests that trans fats are dangerous.