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Low fat, no fat, high fat, fake fat: it seems that dietary recommendations over the last twenty years have changed with the wind. What are we supposed to eat? Are fats bad for us, and how much is too much? These are all fair questions, and researchers are trying to answer them.

Decades ago, everyone ate butter, eggs, and meat, yet obesity rates were much lower than they are now. Fad diets have come and gone, and Americans are still getting fatter. It seems that scientists can agree on a few facts. One is that fat, gram for gram, provides more than twice the calories as carbohydrates and protein, the other main molecules in food. And another is that we need fat in our diets.

In the middle of the last century, people ate mostly whole foods, that is, foods that are not processed or that have artificial ingredients and added chemicals. Snack foods, fast food, and junk food were not readily available. Many of us, in fact, had fast-food meals just as a treat, about once a month or so! And we were much more active than we are today.

Today the emphasis is more on good fat than super-low or no fat. We have to eat fat in order to absorb vitamins and obtain the essential fatty acids that are necessary for cell growth and production. The trick is to eat fats that are healthy. Monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados, among other foods, may actually help reduce the risk of heart disease — and they're delicious! It's easy to transform recipes to use these healthy fats, and you'll love how your food tastes.

Low fat is defined as 30 percent of calories from fat. Most Americans currently get 35 to 40 percent of their daily calories from fat, so while transforming your diet to a low-fat diet is a change, it's not that drastic. Simple changes in the way you cook, cutting down on fat in recipes, and adding flavor with healthy, delicious ingredients will soon become second nature.

The only truly bad fat is hydrogenated fat, also known as trans fat. These artificial fats should be avoided as much as possible. Other fats, including saturated and polyunsaturated fats, can be eaten in moderation. In fact, moderation is the key to eating well.

Building a colorful plate, eating whole foods, consuming good fats, and getting moderate, regular exercise are the keys to living a good life. The key is to start small. Make small changes; as you incorporate these into your life, gradually add more. Soon you'll be fit, trim, healthy, and happier!

  1. Home
  2. Low Fat, High Flavor Recipes
  3. Introduction
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