Is eating fat good for you?

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It's the message in several new health books: eat more fat to lose weight and gain energy. (WPVI)

It's the message in several new health books: eat more fat to lose weight and gain energy.

We're definitely moving away from low-fat eating to plans that include more fat. But when it comes to which fats are healthy, there's still some controversy.

By now the word is out foods like olive oil, avocado, nuts and salmon are loaded with mono-unsaturated, or healthy fats, which are good for us.

But the new book "Smart Fat" takes the message much further.

The plan adds most fat back in, even saturated fat which was perceived to be unhealthy.

Action News spoke with co-author of the book Jonny Bowden via Skype.

"We've been terribly misled about the health risks of saturated fat," Bowden said.

He says taking fat out in the past led to people eating more high-carbohydrate and sugary foods.

"I believe it to be largely responsible for the obesity epidemic we're seeing today," Bowden said.

But he says the "Smart Fat Solution" isn't a license to chow down on burgers and fries.

The plan is broken up into four components: fat, fiber, flavor and "clean protein."

Registered dietitian Althea Zanecosky likes that "Smart Fat" encourages people to eat fewer processed foods. She says in many cases choosing the higher fat food is better.

We looked at a certain fat-free pudding, it's only 70 calories, but it has 16 grams of sugar. You're better off having more fat, less sugar.

She also likes pushing people to eat more vegetables and those well-known heart healthy foods.

But she cautions, "We still have to be careful because any fat still has calories."

For nuts, she suggests the 100-calorie packs.

For dark chocolate, keep it to one to two ounces a day.

As for the argument on saturated fat, new research has shown it may not be as harmful as once thought, but not all experts agree.

The American Heart Association still says people should limit saturated fat.

But Bowden says it's not the fat that's the problem. He believes it's the hormones, pesticides and antibiotics used on grain-fed animals.

"All of it winds up in their fat, that's what makes animal fat toxic, not the fact it comes from animals," Bowden said.

He recommends people eat grass-fed animal products whenever possible.

Many mainstream experts disagree.

"There is no good science to show grass-fed is better than conventional," Zanecosky said.

Bowden says overall the "Smart Fat Solution" will boost Omega-3s and that can help prevent inflammation and possibly disease.

He says it's not a quick fix for weight loss, but there are benefits.

"When you get the toxins out, when you get the sugar and starch out and start eating foods your body recognizes as energetic and nourishing, your entire life will change, your entire energy will change," Bowden said.

As a nurse, I suggest looking at all the information out there and find what works best for you long-term.

Cutting down on processed and sugary foods is good advice for everyone, as is eating more vegetables and healthy fats.

When it comes to saturated fat, talk to your healthcare provider about what is best for you.

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