Jul 16 2017

Eat fat. Don’t eat fat. What are we supposed to do?

Published by at 2:53 pm under General

Eat fat. Don’t eat fat. What are we supposed to do?
The days of low fat diets are gone as researchers discover the real truth about fat in our diet.

There was a time when many a fad diet told us to avoid all fat at all costs! Low fat foods were touted as healthier, thought they were loaded with sugar. Wrong! The result was a fatter population, as we banned the good as well as the bad fats from our bodies, and unwittingly increased our sugar intake. More recent research has found that fat is good for us, as long as we are getting  the right kind. Fat provides our bodies with energy,  helps us to absorb some vitamins and minerals and is needed in building strong cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. For long-term health, some fats are better than others. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Bad ones include industrial-made trans fats and saturated fats fall somewhere in between.1*

“…All fats have a similar chemical structure: a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. What makes one fat different from another is the length and shape of the carbon chain and the number of hydrogen atoms connected to the carbon atoms. Seemingly slight differences in structure translate into crucial differences in form and function…”1*

So which fats should we be consuming?

Let’s start with the fats you need to avoid.

Trans fat

This is the worst type of dietary fat. A mainly man-made fat, it is a byproduct of hydrogenation, which is a process that turns healthy oils into solids and keeps them from becoming rancid. This happens when        “… vegetable oil is heated in the presence of hydrogen and a heavy-metal catalyst such as palladium, hydrogen atoms are added to the carbon chain. This turns oils into solids. It also makes healthy vegetable oils more like not-so-healthy saturated fats…” When scanning food labels, avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which is this manufactured ingredient. 1*

At the beginning of the  20th century, you’d see trans fats  in solid margarines and vegetable shortening for the most part, but as food manufacturers devised new ways to use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, it started showing up in many items on the grocery store shelves. It was also used in cooking French fries from our favorite fast food restaurants. Only until the last decade did this change and fast food restaurants switched to healthier oils. Because these fats have no known health benefits, it is thankfully fading fast from the food supply. 1*

Trans fat is dangerous for our health because it creates inflammation in the body, which is linked to heart disease, stroke and other chroinic conditions. It contributes to insulin resistance which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It increases the harmful LDL cholesterol in the blood stream and reduces the beneficial HDL cholesterol.  “…Research from the Harvard School of Public Health and elsewhere indicates that trans fats can harm health in even small amounts: for every 2% of calories from trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%…”1*

Saturated fats

These fats are common in the American diet. Solid at room temperature, these fats include bacon grease, fats from red meat, whole milk and other whole milk dairy foos like cheese, and are found in many commercially prepared baked goods and foods. Recent studies suggest that coconut oil falls into this category, though more research is in order. The word “saturated”  refers to how many  “…hydrogen atoms surround each carbon atom. The chain of carbon atoms holds as many hydrogen atoms as possible — it’s saturated with hydrogens…”(1,2)*

Is saturated fat bad for you? A diet rich in saturated fats can drive up total cholesterol, and tip the balance toward more harmful LDL cholesterol, which prompts blockages to form in arteries in the heart and elsewhere in the body. For that reason, most nutrition experts recommend limiting saturated fat to under 10% of calories a day.1*

There have been some recent reports that have clouded the link between saturated fat and heart disease. “…One meta-analysis of 21 studies said that there was not enough evidence to conclude that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease, but that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat may indeed reduce risk of heart disease…”1*

Good fats

There are two broad categories of beneficial fats. They are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Eating these fats in place of saturated fats or highly refined carbohydrates has been shown to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol, as well as lower triglycerides. These healthy fats are liquid at room temperature and are found in nuts, seeds, vegetables and fish. They are different from saturated fats because they have “…fewer hydrogen atoms bonded to their carbon chains…” Keep in mind that thought these fats are healthy, they are high in calorie, so don’t go overboard, just because they are healthy if you are trying to watch your weight.1*   

Monounsaturated fats

These fats are found primarily in olive oil, avocado and peanut oil, as well as most nuts. They have a “single carbon-to-carbon double bond. The result is that it has two fewer hydrogen atoms than a saturated fat and a bend at the double bond…” In the 1960s, the Seven Countries Study conducted a study in which they set out to determine why  people living in Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean region had such a low rate of heart disease compared to other countries, even though their diet was high in fat. They concluded that it was due to the fact that the primary fat in their diet was olive oil, which contains mainly monounsaturated fat, as opposed to saturated animal fat so common in other countries. It was at this time that the “Mediterranean diet,” became so popular. 1*

Polyunsaturated fats. 

Lastly, there is polyunsaturated fats. Liquid cooking oil to include corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil are examples of this type of fat. These are considered “essential” fats, meaning the body can’t make these fats but yet they are required for normal body functions. They build cell membranes and the covering of nerves, as well as aid in blood clotting, inflammation and muscle movement. “…A polyunsaturated fat has two or more double bonds in its carbon chain. There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. The numbers refer to the distance between the beginning of the carbon chain and the first double bond. Both types offer health benefits…” Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel, along with walnuts, flaxseeds canola oil and unhydrogenated soybean oil are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. 1*

“…Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent and even treat heart disease and stroke. In addition to reducing blood pressure, raising HDL, and lowering triglycerides, polyunsaturated fats may help prevent lethal heart rhythms from arising. Evidence also suggests they may help reduce the need for corticosteroid medications in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies linking omega-3s to a wide range of other health improvements, including reducing risk of dementia, are inconclusive, and some of them have major flaws, according to a systematic review of the evidence by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality…” Vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, walnut, corn and soybean oils are all excellent sources for Omega-6 fatty acids, which have are thought to also protect against heart disease. 1*

So what’s the bottom line? Replace saturated and trans fats in your diet as much as you can with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It is shown to reduce  harmful LDL cholesterol, as well as lower triglycerides. Research in the 1960s, which was backed by the sugar industry, shaped our way of thinking for decades to come. As we ate less fat and more sugar, the 80s and 90s saw a terrible obesity epidemic. Today we know that sugar is really the culprit. Avoiding sugar and any foods that turn to sugar in the body, and eating the right fats, will keep your gut healthy and your immune system strong. Keeping up with your daily Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™ is also the key to a healthy body.(1,3)*

Until next week, healthiest wishes!

Kelli

 

www.bodybiotics.com

 

Resources:

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good
  2. https://www.statnews.com/2017/06/20/coconut-oil-reputation-healthy/
  3. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/07/sugar-vs-fat-debate-gets-new-life-after-study-casts-doubt-on-consensus.html

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