FRESNO, California -- Fat was the "bad guy" in American diets for decades.
As doctors and dieticians steered us toward more fruits and vegetables in the grocery store, we also avoided food with fats.
Some of that thinking is changing, though.
A new book is blowing up the old notion of cutting out what our bodies need and crave and suggests adding some fat back into our diet is actually necessary.
"We've been terribly misled about the health risks of saturated fat," said Jonny Bowden, co-author of "Smart Fat: Eat More Fat, Lose More Weight, Get Healthy Now."
According to Bowden, many low-fat diets that previously cut out the so-called "bad" fats were replaced by fillers that were packed with sugar and loaded with carbs.
"I believe it to be largely responsible for the obesity epidemic we're seeing today," said Bowden.
For years, we have been encouraged to eat monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, and salmon. But now, many health experts believe some saturated fat is important to increase metabolism, boost energy, and cut your cravings.
Fresno Internal Medicine Dr. Uma Rao says detecting saturated fat is fairly easy.
"Saturated fat can be anything that when you put at room temperature, it's solid. You know, things like butter," Rao said.
According to Rao, some saturated fat is good, but that does not give you a license to let go of common sense. A burger and fries are OK once in a while, if your main menu includes healthy meals.
She also warns, foods labeled as "low calorie" can be deceiving.
"When something is low calorie, you have to be cautious, because there is really no such thing as a free lunch, but you're going to actually be having a lot of processed bad things that are making up that taste," said Rao.
Pudding, for example, is just 70 calories but has 16 grams of sugar. You are better off having more fat, less sugar.
The key to a balanced plan is portion sizes.
"A good idea for people would be something like a 100-calorie pack of nuts," said licensed dietician Angela Koons. "It's the perfect portion of a healthy fat. that doesn't mean though that choosing the cookies is a good idea."
The smart fat solution breaks down the plan into four components: fat, fiber, flavor, and clean protein.
"They talk a lot about free-range chickens, grass fed beef, and things that are organic. Big emphasis on organic," Koons pointed out.
Dark chocolate should be limited to one to two ounces a day.
Beans are great since you get "two for one" in fiber and protein.
Healthy snacks include apples and peanut butter, hummus and vegetables, and regular Greek-style yogurt, food that's fuel for your body.
"And you have to always think about your heart," said Bowden.
The smart fat solution will boost Omega-3's and reduce inflammation and possibly prevent disease.
The plan is not a quick fix for weight loss, but as the body changes, so could your waistline.
"When you get the toxins out, when you get the sugar and starch out and start eating foods, your body recognizes it as energetic and nourishing. Your entire life will change. Your entire energy will change," Bowden proclaims.
Bowden also warns fat can have a lot of calories, so do not overdo it. However, do not deny yourself your favorite foods either.
As with most methods, moderation is the key to healthy eating that benefits the body no matter the number on the scale.
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Experts say eating fat may help trim your waistline
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