dietary fat: part 1

olive oil

Fat will probably always be a hot topic in the world of nutrition.

Fat is bad. Fat is good. Eat less saturated fat. Eat more saturated fat. Eggs are bad. Eggs are good. Margarine is healthier. Butter is healthier. Coconut oil is healthier.

All sounds pretty contradictory, right? There’s one thing I can promise you. All the dietitians don’t just get together and then go changing their mind every once in awhile on what people should eat. Several things cause the confusing messages you’ve no doubt heard. Two major ones are:

1) Research. Dietitians use evidence-based practice, meaning we look at what multiple well-designed studies are finding and use that to make nutrition recommendations. Sometimes there isn’t much research yet and we have to use what knowledge we have to make a recommendation. Research is also always changing. We’re always learning more, which is good and helps us improve our recommendations, but the updated recommendations sometimes confuse people.

2) Media. Lots of times, the media will grab on to one sentence or headline from a research article and that becomes the thing that everyone hangs on to regarding that food. What you must remember is that they probably don’t take the time to see if the study was well designed or if more than one study found similar results. If a study was completed in animals, a very specific population, had a small number of subjects, used a research environment that isn’t representative of what people actually experience in daily life, or the results weren’t replicated in other studies, the findingss aren’t really applicable to the population at large.

As you can see, this is part 1 on dietary fats. Because I’ve seen so much misinformation going around about dietary fats in particular, I felt like it was important to talk a little bit about why it’s best not to just jump on the latest bandwagon/diet craze without further information. Of course, that goes for really any part of your diet.

Check back Friday for part 2, which will talk more about specific types of fats and what they do. Next Monday will be part 3 on how to actually add more good fats into your diet and take out some of the bad!

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