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Fats: Healthy, harmful & those “in between”

We originally wrote this article for fashion brand Mint Velvet’s online magazine but thought we would share it here on Ethos’ blog as it might be helpful to some of you out there.

With so many articles about fat floating around it’s difficult to make heads or tails of it all. Some fats are seen as “good”, some are supposedly “bad” and some might now be … in between ! Yet given they all share the name “FAT” it’s so easy to be confused. You may recently, for example, have heard that butter might not be as “bad” for our health as previously thought.

All this has left us scratching our heads trying to understand just which fats should – and shouldn’t – we be eating, and whether some fats are really as “bad” for us as previously thought?

First and foremost, fats are essential for good health, so it’s important to eat some fat – BUT… the right type. Which might seem contradictory to the “low fat” diets that have been promoted in recent decades.

There are four types of fats that we humans can consume in our diets: monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats are seen as healthy whereas trans fats and saturated fats are widely seen as harmful to our health.

Personally we find all those monos- and polys- and saturates a tad hard to follow, so I like to simplify it right down:

“good” fats = unsaturated fats = fat found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
= Natural stuff
= Eat them !

“harmful” fats = saturated & trans fats = fats found in butter and processed foods such as cookies, cakes, biscuits, chips, fast food and fried foods.
= Un-natural stuff
= Limit or avoid !

Whilst the jury may still be out on saturated fats like butter, there is no discussion on trans fats. They are Bad with a capital B. Trans fats have no health benefits and are linked with various diseases. Our advice: steer clear of these foods as much as possible.

The guide to eating the right type of fat is really quite straight forward. Focus on fat from real food, rather than from processed food.

Also, don’t be scared of eating natural fats. We know some people avoid eating avocados and drizzling olive oil on food because they are convinced it would make them fat. Actually it doesn’t. At all. In fact, eating healthy, natural fats will actually HELP you maintain a healthy weight because you tend to end up eating less after you eat these fats. How ? Why ? Good fats make you feel full, therefore you’re less likely to snack or eat more, because you just don’t feel like it.


All in all, our advice is quite simple: 


  We agree with Michael Pollan, who famously quoted:
“eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.

What Michael is getting at here, is that we should eat real food and not food that comes out of a packet and has dozens of ingredients. Secondly, try not to eat too much, and thirdly, try to eat a diet as rich in plants as possible.Simple and natural is always best and everything in moderation. These are the truly the keys to good health and longevity.