healthy fats

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Healthy Fats and Oils

By |February 27th, 2014|

Are you confused about fats and oils in your diet?

There has been a trend to eliminate fats to lose weight and try to be healthy.  Eliminating dietary fats is not good for the body.

We need dietary fats.  It is impossible to eliminate them totally as fat is found in most foods; even green peas and carrots have small amounts of fat in them.

Dietary fats help with many basic functions in the body:

  • Protects your organs
  • Helps keep your body warm.
  • Fats help your body absorb “fat-soluble” vitamins A, D, E and K and stores them in the liver and in fatty tissues for future use.
  • Cholesterol which is created by fat produces important hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

Yes, we need fat but usually not as much as we usually eat.

There are three main dietary fats. Each fat has different chemical structures and physical properties.

  1. Unsaturated Fats (called the good fats) can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation and stabilize heart rhythms. They are liquids at room temperature.

Two types of unsaturated fats:

  • Monosaturated Fats are found in high concentrations in olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats are found in high concentrations in sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed oils, walnuts, flax seeds, and fish.  Omega-3 fats are one important type of polyunsaturated fat. The body can’t make these, so they must come from food.

Most of us don’t get enough of these healthy unsaturated fats. The traditional Greek diet gets up to 30 percent of its calories from monounsaturated fats, mostly from olive oil.

  1. Trans Fats raises bad cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease. Even worse they lower good cholesterol!  The American Heart Association advises to limit trans fat daily consumption to less than 1%. 

Scientists have now established that trans fats found in many fast foods, bakery products, and margarines—increase the risk of cardiovascular disease through inflammatory processes.

  1. Saturated Fats according to old research raises blood cholesterol levels. High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. Foods containing saturated fat include: Lard, pork, regular ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, full-fat cheese, ice cream, whole milk, sour cream, butter, palm oil, coconut oil, chicken and turkey skin.

The Cholesterol Myth 

Cholesterol is a natural part of our body; we have between 1,000 and 2,000 milligrams of cholesterol in our body at any time depending on our body size. Three quarters of it is produced our body’s liver and a one quarter comes from our diet and much of that is unable to be absorbed by our body. We have a sophisticated control system that controls the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling internal production.  When there is not enough cholesterol coming in – your body makes more.  When there is too much coming in our body makes less.

Saturated fats like butter and coconut oil have a bad public image.  Research studies in both animals and humans more than half a century ago has said it raises blood cholesterol and causes heart disease. Coconut oil research used hydrogenated coconut oil which is a trans fat.  Also, these studies were for only a few weeks, not long term.  There are recent studies of a higher quality that does not support it.

  • Data from 21 studies with nearly 348,000 adults found no difference in the risks of heart disease and stroke between people with the […]