Stop Eating Fat-Free Food The low-fat craze hit in the late 1980s—some pinpoint a particularly distressing issue of TIME from March 1984 for sounding the alarm on cholesterol and fat, stating: “Cholesterol is proved deadly, and our diet may never be the same.” It wasn’t long after that food companies saw a great opportunity and began manufacturing all kinds of fat-free and cholesterol-free products. Enter: SnackWells, WOW! Chips (Olestra, anyone?), Slim-Fast, Egg Beaters, reduced-fat Jif, margarine, fat-free cheese and pretty much low-fat anything and everything.

Rise in Obesity & Diabetes

So what happened? Did Americans lose a bunch of weight? Nope. Quite the opposite happened, actually. In the 1960s, only 1 percent of Americans had type 2 diabetes and around 13 percent were considered obese. Today, 37.5 percent of U.S. adults and 18 percent of U.S. children are obese and around 11 percent have type 2 diabetes—and severe obesity (a body mass index greater than 40) quadrupled from 1986 to 2000.

Many low-fat and fat-free foods contain refined carbohydrates and leave people feeling hungry or unsatisfied, therefore, they tend to consume more. There’s also a misconception that these foods aren’t bad for you because they are low-fat or fat-free—so you can snack freely without paying close attention to quantity or calories.

Fat & Cholesterol Aren’t the Bad Guys

Research, including reports from Harvard, have shown that the amount of fat in the diet isn’t linked with weight or disease. What?! It’s true; what actually matters is the kind of fat and how many calories you’re consuming.

Trans fat is the number one to avoid, it is an unnatural fat created through hydrogenation. The other well-known “bad fat” is saturated fat—but it looks like that theory is on the way out the door. Recent studies have failed to find any link between saturated fat and heart disease or stroke, including a 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Another study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that people on low-carb diets lost more weight and saw greater improvements in cholesterol levels—even though they were consuming more saturated fat.

Stop Eating Fat-Free Food

Certain fats are a vital part of our health and assist with the proper function of cell membranes, control hunger, create and store energy and start chemical reactions that aid growth, immune function, reproduction and metabolism—to name a few. Cholesterol contributes to the body’s ability to create estrogen, testosterone and vitamin D, as well as maintaining intestinal health and brain and nervous system development.

Here’s a short-list of fats to add to your diet:

Monounsaturated fats:

  • Avocado
  • Olives and Olive Oil
  • Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate

Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Freshwater Coho Salmon
  • Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Herring

Saturated fats:

  • Eggs
  • Grass-Fed Beef
  • Grass-Fed Lamb
  • Coconut Oil

Remember, like most things in life, use fats in moderation! And choose organic whenever possible.