Viva Fat!

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The fanatical fetish for no-fat or very low-fat eating could be unhealthy itself. While no one disagrees that most Westerners' overall fat intake is bloated, fat-o-phobia may actually end up adding pounds.

Here's why: Fat makes eaters feel full, and it slows digestion. So eating a meal with some fat means hunger takes longer to reappear. Fat avoiders thus often seek snacks sooner, or gorge on carbohydrates and sugar, which are the two main fat substitutes in fat-free products, notes Zee Randegger in Environ. But while fat is more caloric per gram, even whole grains have plenty of calories. As American Health notes in its examination of the recent report that pasta can be as fattening as fat, 'you get fat from eating too many calories, no matter where they come from.' Randegger also notes that fat usually end up eating more wheat, a common food allergen. Besides, some fats are good for you. In Spontaneous Healing, Andrew Weil recommends olive oil, which may help keep heart disease rates low in the Mediterranean. Weil also favors flax and hemp oil for their health-boosting fatty acids.

Environ ($18/yr. 4 issues) available from Box 2204, Ft. Collins, CO 80522.

American Health ($14.97/yr. 10 issues) available from Box 3111, Harlan, IA 51593-2177.