Reality Check: Good Fats are still Fat

The other day, a group of friends and I were chowing down at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Ole in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  They make Guacamole – to die for – fresh at your table.  One of my friends who felt she porked out on too much of it claimed, “Well, at least it is the good kind of fat!”  Yes, avocados have ‘good fat’.  But does that mean that eating a couple of avocados worth in one sitting is actually good for you?  No, not so much.

Our guacamole fest made me realize that often we eat foods that are determined to have ‘health benefits’ past moderation, in turn, making them ‘not so healthy.’  Take dark chocolate for instance.  It has become pretty well know that dark chocolate contains antioxidants which are great for warding off ‘free-radicals’.  I imagine that for a lot of people, the logic then goes something like this: “Great!  So this must mean I should eat dark chocolate often and in large quantities to ensure that I stay young and beautiful.”  In reality, if we all did this, we would have even a larger obesity epidemic on our hands than we already do.  The truth is that we should indulge in these foods, but still maintain ‘in moderation’ as our standard for portions and frequency.

Look, a fat is a fat.  It doesn’t matter if it is a ‘good fat’ or a ‘bad fat’, it is still a fat.  And, a healthy diet should only incorporate 20% – 30% of fat, whether good or bad.  Granted, when you are eating fats, eating those that are ‘good’ is by far more healthy than eating those that are ‘bad.’  You should avoid those that are ‘bad.’  But just because it is good doesn’t mean that you should look at them as a staple of your diet.

What fats do you enjoy?  Any that you rationalize ‘it is good for you so I can eat a lot of it’?



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  • James

    I read this article and despite what has been relayed about saturated fat via studies carried out within the last 5 years and reported by journalists like Gary Taubes, the myth(s) persist that fats, especially saturated fats are bad for you. I am living proof they are not (primary source)! Traditionally people of Spanish or Mediterranean descent receive a higher amount of calories from fat than do people in the United States. Lest we think that the higher percentage of fat comes from plant food in Spain there is a thing called the jamon bar! We also drink more alcohol, smoke more tobacco and have more sex! Latest studies show Spain has the longest life expectancy in Europe. My point is that health issues have to be viewed holistically and not one thing single out as the culprit, i.e., dietary fat.