Fats: Friend or Foe?

nutrition blog fats

Fat is not your enemy. A major dietary myth has been debunked.  For fifty years, people were told by their medical professionals that eating foods hight in saturated fats, such as meats, cheeses, and butter, would cause heart disease.  In March, a major dietary study, which reviewed almost eighty other studies, caused researchers to revise their recommendations.  The study showed that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat had no more heart disease than those who ate less. Also, lowering cholesterol, by modifying diet or giving pharmaceutical statins, did nothing to lower the risk of heart disease.  The author believes that instead of making people healthier, the dietary guidelines most of us grew up with actually increased our risk of disease and obesity by encouraging us to eat more sugar and carbohydrates!  I find this information interesting not because I want carte blanch to eat steak and bacon, but there is so much richness, flavor, and variety to be experienced when we are not limited to boneless, skinless chicken beast and egg whites!  It  also reminds me of the importance of common sense and eating a balanced diet of whole unprocessed foods.  The Annals of Internal Medicine article goes on to explain that a diet high in sugar and an excess of bad carbohydrates is the true offender in cardiovascular disease.

Here are four reasons eating a diet containing good quality fat is good for you:

  1. People require certain fatty acids which can not be synthesized by their own bodies and certain vitamins are fat soluble and only found in foods containing fat.  Without these essential nutrients, deficiency symptoms may occur.
  2. A Mediterranean diet with more nuts and olive oil actually prevents cardiovascular disease when compared to a diet lower in fat and higher in starches and sugars.
  3. Trying to reduce dietary fat by eating low-fat processed foods may be bad for you.  These foods often are full of additives, artificial flavors, and sugars in an effort to make them palatable.
  4. Fat adds flavor to foods and leads to more satisfaction and a feeling of the meal “staying with you.”

Fats can be your friend, even if weight loss is your goal, keeping in mind this word of caution:  Fats contain more than twice as many calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein.  Although they are dense in calories, they contain essential nutrients and lead you to feel more satisfied with your meal, so you may end up eating less calories over-all.  According to Frank Hu of Harvard School of Public Health and Nutrition, “when people cut down on fats they tend to eat more bread, cold cereal and other refined carbohydrates.”  Could this be because of the persistent hunger we have when we eat a low fat diet?

Remember that hydrogenated fats are never your friend.  There is a strong link between man-made fats and heart disease and should always be avoided. So, go ahead and (gasp) grab that chicken thigh!  Use butter on your whole grain toast -enjoy a few bites of delicious cheese after your dinner.

Here are 3 resources for further reading:

Time to End the War Against Saturated Fat?

The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz

Herb Marinated Chicken

cooked chicken Good quality chicken is a must for this recipe.  You will be spending some time preparing and cooking so it is worth the cost to buy organic and free range birds because the taste is so far superior to conventionally raised poultry.  Start prepping your chicken at lunch time for dinner to allow the meat to soak up the flavors of the marinade.  And make extra for left-overs!


one whole chicken- cut into pieces

1 cup fresh mixed herbs packed loosely  (I used basil, parsley, and oregano)

1/2 c olive oil

2 cloves garlic salt and pepper

Cut your chicken and divide legs from thighs and cut breast halves in half again (you will have about 10 pieces).  Score the skin of the breast making shallow cuts through the skin into the meat to allow the marinade to soak into the chicken.  Put the herbs and garlic in a food processor or blender and add the olive oil then process the mixture until it is almost smooth.  Place the chicken pieces in a plastic bag and pour the marinade over the meat.  Seal the bag and massage the olive oil into the meat through the bag and place the bag in the refrigerator for several hours. Marinating chicken Cook the chicken on a grill or barbecue until the internal temperature of the meat is 165°.  It should be golden brown on the outside with no pink on the inside. Enjoy with a big green salad!!

Melanie Petri began searching for a practical application for her life-long love of science as a Biology major at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. This search evolved into a Masters degree in Nutrition and an internship to become a Registered Dietitian as she learned that dietetics was a perfect marriage of science and cooking arts. Melanie also studied exercise physiology as a secondary interest.
Later in life she found her passion, Pilates, and was certified at the Pilates Center in Boulder, Colorado. The Work, with Jay Grimes, solidified her commitment to teaching Pilates and she continues to study at Vintage Pilates. Melanie has taught in Hermosa Beach for over thirteen years. In addition to her own Pilates practice, Melanie is an enthusiastic beach volleyball and tennis player.

Melanie Petri

Melanie Petri


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Melanie Petri

Melanie Petri

Melanie Petri began searching for a practical application for her life-long love of science as a biology major at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.   She began studying to become a Registered Dietitian upon learning that dietetics was a perfect marriage of science and cooking arts and studied exercise physiology as a secondary interest .  Continuing her studies, she received a Master’s Degree in nutrition.

Later in life she found her second love, Pilates, and was teacher certified at the Pilates Center in Boulder, Colorado.  She has taught in Hermosa Beach for over ten years and continues training at Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles.

From the Community

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    Dear Melanie Petri:
    Thank you for passing on the reading references for this research which I had heard about on the radio. It is most interesting and very significant.

    • Melanie Petri

      Melanie Petri

      Member since 2012

      Wouldn’t it be amazing if this information helped us all become more healthy? It is truly significant.

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