Fat has always been regarded as a heinous and forbidden substance if you were trying to lose weight. A huge industry has sprung up around the manufacturing of low fat food. Only now it seems that there is a new bogeyman on the street and Sugar should be regarded as public enemy number one. So which one is worse for you? Are they as bad as each other? Do we all need to rethink our attitudes towards healthy eating? I've been doing some reading and some research to try and make sense of it
Fat Vs Sugar
Assessing the impact of fat on your health is quite complicated and even experts seem to disagree. The most important thing to look for is the type of fat that you are consuming.
This is the fat that you really need to avoid. It raises the amount of bad Cholesterol in your blood and also lowers the amount of good cholesterol. It is also commonly known as partially hydrogenated oils. Some countries have taken legal steps to limit the use of trans fats in fast food restaurants but unfortunately it still remains in use in many areas. Trans fats are often found in baked or fried goods.
This is where you can start to get some conflicting evidence about whether fat is harmful. Previously all types of Saturated Fat have been lumped together and viewed as equally bad. Research is now showing that this may be incorrect as certain types can be worse than others and some may have Health Benefits that possibly outweigh any small risks.
Stearin acid, commonly found in meat, has been shown to have little effect on cholesterol. Myristic acid, found in dairy products and Coconut Oil, may increase Bad Cholesterol but it also increases good cholesterol as well thereby maintaining the correct ratio in the blood. Lauric acid, also found in coconut oil, may increase good cholesterol more than it increases bad cholesterol.
This doesn't mean that we should all go out and start eating huge amounts of saturated fat as part of our diet. It does mean that it has probably been incorrect to demonise all types.
These are divided into two types - monosaturated and polyunsaturated. The general advice is that these types of fats, while still being fairly high in calories, can have a beneficial effect on your health by improving cholesterol levels.
The impact of consuming high levels of sugar in your diet has really only been properly assessed recently. I can certainly remember my mum on diets where she would eat sugary snacks every day but she thought it was alright because they were low in fat.
Sugar is often described as empty calories as it gives no health benefits. Recent research gives a long list of the detrimental effects of high sugar consumption. This includes:-
Fatty liver disease
In addition to this, there is evidence to show that consuming fructose, one of the common forms of added sugar, can raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.
Which is worse?
I don't think you can say conclusively that either fat or sugar is worse for you. What it is safe to say is that certain fats may not be so bad for you after all and can be consumed in moderation.
What the latest research has clearly demonstrated is the potential harmful effects of sugar which had not been a deciding factor in many people's dietary decisions before.
Personally I am going to keep to the principle of everything in moderation although I will pay greater attention to the types of fats that I consume. I feel happier about including coconut oil in my diet now. I also now understand why weightwatchers changed their points system to cut out more sugar and this has motivated me to stick with Smartpoints again.
Hope you found some of this useful. Speak to you soon
Love Erica xxx