Is fat good or bad? Well, the answer is it depends.
Bad fats include saturated and trans fats often found in fried, greasy foods or anything made with butter, shortening, lard, or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. There are few who would argue that these fats have any role in good nutrition and health.
The good fats, on the other hand, play a critical role in your body’s maintenance and have a major impact on mental and physical health. Every cell in your body needs these good fats. The membrane surrounding each cell is made of fat and without this fat the cell loses its structure and stability. Even more important, the brain needs essential fatty acids (good fats) for proper function, growth, and development. About 60 percent of the dry weight of the brain is fat.
Fat is particularly important in anorexia. Individuals struggling with anorexia commonly have an extreme fear of gaining weight leading them to avoid eating foods containing any amount of fat. Over a short amount of time this can lead to deficiencies in EFAs which can contribute to higher cholesterol levels, osteoporosis, depression, increased cardiac episodes and even increased suicide risk.
Not surprisingly some researchers are looking into EFA supplementation to treat patients with anorexia. In one study patients with anorexia experienced improved mood (less anxiety and decreased preoccupation with food) and overall health when they received a daily EFA supplement in addition to standard treatment. While individuals were receiving supplementation, not one relapsed and all restored some weight.
Getting enough good fat is important for those with anorexia and for everyone.