Myth: low fat is NOT healthy and does NOT prevent heart disease


Myth: A low-fat diet is healthy and prevents heart disease

  People try to get their cholesterol levels down so they avoid cholesterol rich foods and high fat foods!  Wrong thing to do!  This may lower your cholesterol (see myth one for why you don’t want this to go too low) and you end up eating foods that are high in sugar, chemicals, additives, and refined carbs.  Avoid sugar and processed foods not healthy foods with natural fat and cholesterol.

Wrong and harmful: 

  • If you are trying to lose weight, research shows that you will have more success on a low carb diet as opposed to a low- fat diet even when those on the low carb diet took in more calories than the low- fat group. (A low carb diet typically contains moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of quality fats)
  • We need fat. Dietary fats are essential for cell growth and for energy. You need fat to absorb your fat- soluble nutrients.  For instance, many people take their fish oil and vitamin D supplements with a low -fat breakfast.  Well, I hate to say it, but then you are wasting your money.  The meal needs to contain fat for these nutrients to be absorbed.
  • Although to be clear, we need good fats and should still be avoid rancid, oxidized fats such as corn, soy, canola and vegetable oils. This means you need to read labels because most processed foods are going to contain these oils. Even healthy salad dressings are usually made with soy or canola oil.

Some products will say non-GMO canola oil thus making you think this is much healthier. And while I advise people to avoid GMO’s, in this case it is still an oil that oxidizes rapidly when exposed to air, light and heat and it is an oil that is high in omega 6’s.  So, it does not matter in this case if it has GMO’s or not. This oil is still creating inflammation in your body and it is best to limit your intake.

  • Eating out: typically, there is no way to avoid it. Most places are going to use cheaper oils to cook with so it is best to limit how much you eat out. When you cook at home you have control and know what you are putting into your body.
  • If you are buying low fat products, be aware that this means they need to add something in to make it taste good. Fat gives food its flavor. When you take out the fat, sugar is added in, to make it palatable.
  • Try to eat a diet that is lower in processed carbs, with plenty of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit, moderate protein and high in fat (fats that are good include “real” EVOO, avocado and its oil, raw nuts and seeds and their butters, coconut products, organic/grass fed meats, raw dairy and grass fed butter)

Outdated: Some people are still stuck on this concept. In fact, many people that I talk to still talk about eating low fat and avoiding certain (what I consider) healthy foods because they contain fat.  I wish we would get past this. Even some doctors are still recommending for their patients’ low fat diets. And then there are the people who take their fat soluble supplements with a low fat meal.  (hint: you need fat from your food in order to absorb these fat soluble nutrients such as your fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin E and A.

A study done in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pooled together 21 studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 that developed cardiovascular disease, tracked them for 14 years and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease.

So, there you have it-eat healthy fat!

If you are consuming a low- fat diet, chances are you are also consuming a diet high in sugar and refined processed foods which will contribute to systemic inflammation and chronic health issues.  Read labels.  If it’s a long list that you can barely read, I say you should pass on the food product.

Bottom line: It comes down to the TYPE of fats that you eat! Know what “bad” fats are and avoid them. Eat quality fats instead.

If you have any mental health issue and also eat a low fat diet: consider this; your brain needs fat to function properly!

Like this article. You may also like my article on cholesterol myths


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Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC.  

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As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Tru Foods Nutrition
Nutrition Consultant at Tru Foods Nutrition Services LLC
I am a nutrition professional with a focus on mental health and gut health. I am also passionate about getting nutrition information out to the public so that others can take charge of their own health instead of living on meds. I help others who have tried the medical route and who are often are worse off because of it. Nutrition therapy has an individized approach and addresses root causes.