The fat basics

Fat

Fat is an important building block in our bodies but has gotten a bad rap based on studies from the 50’s and ever since we have reduced our fat intake to not get sick and fat. Well, as we have seen we are more sick and fatter than ever before so what are we doing wrong?

There are several types of dietary fat and most of them are actually good for us except for a few. The fats to stay away from are as you probably guessed; trans fat and hydrogenated fat (i.e margarine). This is because they are man-made or processed as they have added hydrogen and pressure to it to make the fat hard. This kind of fat helps processed foods have longer shelf life i.e. cookies and crackers. The main reason trans fat is bad is because they raise the total cholesterol but also deplete the good cholesterol.

So what about saturated fats? Well, here is the thing with this other fat that also has a bad rep, it’s actually good for you! Saturated fat that occurs naturally in foods include dairy products (especially cream and cheese but also butter and ghee); animal fats such as suet, tallow, lard and fatty meat; coconut oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, chocolate, and some prepared foods. According to studies it has been proven that a high intake of saturated dairy fat doesn’t seem to increase the risk cardiovascular disease. Stave off low-fat, non-fat and other light versions to increase your intake of saturated fat and to lower the hidden substitutes of sugars often added in these products.

Probably the most important fat you don’t get enough of every day is the famous omega-3 fatty acid. You might be taking a pill a day but have you read the labels to see how much it actually provides you? As the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 should be 1:1 it’s most likely that we are eating a 20:1 ratio in the favor omega-6. It is important to have a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in the diet as omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

Salmon, flax seeds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Very good sources of these healthy fats include scallops, cauliflower, cabbage, cloves and mustard To avoid any oxidative stress in the body add vitamin E and C with your omega-3’s.

Ultimately fats are important for everyday function, much more than what we realize. So eating a low-fat diet will not help you to your goal any faster of being healthier and fitter. Most likely you will feel sluggish, moody, hungry and even suffer from a vitamin deficiency trying to go low-fat. Fats make you feel full and satisfied, and vitamins such as A, D,E and K can only be digested, absorbed and transported with fats . Having healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock, maintaining body temperature, and promoting healthy cell function are other good reasons to keep you fatty acid intake in check as well. Just make sure that your fat sources come from natural, organic or grass-fed sources and not from grain fed animals, highly processed foods or foods with additives such as MSG and nitrates.

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