I am sure you know by now that fats are essential to life. They are needed for brain function, a healthy nervous system and balance our hormones. Good fats are also needed for our skin, hair and nails to help them avoid dying out.
The good news is that good fats can actually help the body loose weight. Eating healthy sources of fats helps boost our metabolism and thus helps us lose weight. On the flip side insufficient amounts of fat in the diet can cause our bodies to crave bad fats or fatty foods.
Good fats are usually found in whole foods such as, avocados, nuts, organic nut butters, coconuts, hemp oil, olive oil and olives just to name a few.
Bad fats come mostly from animal products. Fats that come from animal products are especially dangerous when cooked. According to Wade Lightheart in his book Vital Power, he states that once fats are cooked they become rancid and turn into toxins, which leads to weight gain.
The ugly fats to avoid all together are Trans fatty acids (trans-fats). As you may already know they are connected to many diseases. Almost anything that is fried is full of Tran-fatty acids. They are also found in a number of processed foods. The problem with trans-fats is that the body cannot break down the fat and therefore becomes trapped in your arteries and intestinal tract causing disease.
When reading labels you may notice packaging that states "No trans-fat". Please be a wise consumer and continue reading the ingredients list if you see either "Hydrogenation" or here's a new one you might not know about yet "Interesterification". If you see these anywhere on the package don't eat it, leave it!
Lightheart states that if you are consuming trans-fats and hoping to loose weight, you can forget about it. What I found most interesting is his explanation of those hard big bellies some of us can't get rid of. He states that it is generally because of mucoid plaque (basically a tar like substance) that has been built up in our digestive tract over time. This plaque creates protruding stomachs from eating foods like hydrogenated fats that cannot be digested. The intestinal tract expands to accommodate the buildup creating physical deformity.
Lightheart advices us to avoid any fat that hardens at room temperature (with the exception of coconut and cacao oils). "If it hardens at room temperature your body cannot break it down."
In general, heating oils changes the fat composition and therefore can end up rancid and toxic to our body.
A Word About Omega's
There has been much talk about omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that our body needs in order to function optimally. But this subject can be very confusing causing questions such as: How much? When? In what proportions?
Most people, who eat typical western diets, consume an overabundance of omega 6 fats from animals and processed foods. At the same time, most people on a typical western diet consume very little of omega 3 fats. Too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3 is actually a problem as the imbalance can cause chronic inflammation which is linked to vascular disease, cancer, Alzheimers and many other inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, lupus and colitis.
The best way to gain the optimal ratio of omegas for good health, and the easiest for those of us with busy lives, is to add flax, hemp or Chia seeds to your diet. Alternatively if none of these appeal to you and you prefer an even easier way, that will also give you the correct amounts of fatty acids (good fats) try Udo's oil (which you can find at most health food stores. His ratio equals the correct amount needed from each of these fatty acids - One to two tablespoons a day should do.
Problems with Fish oils (EFAs)
According to many studies Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are highly unstable when exposed to heat, light and oxygen and therefore are harmful to our bodies.
Ocean fish have usually been dead for a week or more before the boat comes in and are likely filled with toxic chemicals especially mercury.
You are likely cooking the fish before eating it (which generally is a wise idea). The challenge is that along with the above factors, the cooking of the fish destroys a good portion of the EFAs. So much for that idea!
Now that you know all of the above, be sure to choose your fat wisely and stay healthy.
©2009 Mary Luciano