Much attention has been given to reducing fat from one's diet, as if it is the number one menace to our health. Heart disease, high cholesterol and being overweight have all been attributed to a large extent to the amount of fat in our diet. However, is this the whole picture?

Although it is true that a good diet is very important to maintain good health, not enough attention has been given to the types of fat taken in various foods. In an attempt to simply reduce fat many people simply use low- fat or non-fat milk, and find substitutes to butter in various spreads.

However, the most important thing to be aware of is not just the quantity of fat ingested but the quality. Much of the oils used in refined foods is of bad quality and actually increases the body ratio of fat. Margarine is especially bad as the oils are very difficult to digest due to the way they are heated. Ironically butter and milk are very easily digested fats which are absorbed and utilized by the body in a very productive way. So just reducing fat content is not the most important thing. It is the quality of the fat that matters.

High cholesterol is another condition attributed to the amount of animal fat consumed. However, the correct absorption of fat has a lot to do with the overall balance of foods in ones diet. The enzymes found in whole grains are very important in the absorption of fat, as are various vitamins and trace minerals. The lack of fresh whole grains (rice, bread etc) and vegetables can lead to the malasorption of fat which will form cholesterol in the blood vessels. It is not just enough to reduce fat in one's diet.

The most important thing to know is that fats are essential for our well being and it is critical that the fats in our food are of the best quality. For cooking, virgin and extra virgin oil oil is the best. For high heat cooking, a good quality sunflower, safflower or canola oil is good. Refined foods of all sorts use bad quality oils. Many people try to lose weight by dieting. However, just by reducing the amount of food ingested does not always work, especially if not combined with exercise. One study found that the fat ratio on the body actually increased with people who dieted without exercise. Although weight was lost, it wasn't from the "fatty" areas of the body. The group of people who also exercised when dieting had a reduction in the fat content of their body.

Finally, being large does not mean being fat. if a person is naturally bigger and has more fat on them, but eats well and looks after their body, this does not mean they have to lose lots of weight. The fat will be in proportion throughout the body. Our culture is obsessed with the idea of thinness. The latest figures released that give indications for the correct weight for age and height still show a tendency to want everybody to look like skeletal models.