The facts of fat

February 2017

By Naini Setalvad

Enjoying good quality fat helps you maintain immunity, improve mental health, strengthen bones, hair and skin and even lose weight, says Naini Setalvad


Finally we have come full circle. Slowly and steadily we are realising that a diet without fat is ringing a death knell on our health.

“Eat ghee or how will you have strong bones and back?  How will your digestive system work without ghee?”, said my grandmother and to date these words resonate in my mind. For the last few decades fat was considered public enemy no 1, contributing to weight gain, heart diseases and over all poor health. We grew up in an era where we equated health with low fat or zero fat diets. Little realising that fat is needed for vibrant health and even weight loss. We can actually turn off our fat genes and reduce our stress, sugar levels, and cholesterol by eating fat! Not only that, every single bodily function, from boosting our brains, preventing dementia and mood swings, improving our immunity to reducing inflammation, heart diseases and joint pains, depends on eating fat.

Recent scientific studies have recommended oils and fats with a richer content of saturated fat followed by mono unsaturated, poly unsaturated and omega 3 fats as part of the diet. The studies show that they help protect against heart disease.

Vitamin A, D, E K are absorbed by fat, making our hair lustrous, giving us a glowing skin, great eyesight, and healthy strong bones. Fats make the food taste better, satiating hunger faster and preventing binge eating. Fat prevents blood sugar spikes.

The magic of fats

So fear not your cow’s ghee, coconut, nuts, and seeds, cold pressed oils of mustard and sesame and confidently add them to all your food. “No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office,” said the sardonic George Bernard Shaw.

Perhaps the abundance of academicians from Southern India (Dr Abdul Kalam, for instance) is linked to their usage of good quality fat, coconut oil and cow’s ghee. For centuries now, most parts of coastal and Southern India have been using coconut oil as a cooking medium to make their coconut chutneys, coconut stews, and vegetables. Those who use coconut consistently find that they can go for several hours without eating and not feel hungry, that too without experiencing hypoglycemia and erratic blood sugar
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