FATS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

The media always likes to put things in simplistic terms. They believe that sensationalism sells, and that the public isn’t capable of decreeing the sometimes nuances between things that are sometimes good for us, and other times bad. The case in point; fats. Fats are divided into four categories: saturated, polyunsaturated fats monosaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The fats our ancestors ate were predominately omega-3 fatty acids from algae and fish, and monosaturated fat from seeds and nuts. The brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to function. The omega-3 fatty acids from fish are a rich source of peptides that cause the hormone leptin to be secreted. Leptin in the blood signals the brain that we are full and initiates a more rapid burning of calorie.
About 150,000 years ago, the weather turned colder, forcing the last remnants of man off the African savanna and into the Rift valley. There, he discovered a new source of food: shellfish found along the shores of the lakes. These shellfish consumed algae, which gave them a high concentration of algae-rich fats – what we now know as omega-3 fatty acids. These fats accelerated the growth of the frontal cortex, the site of higher thinking in the brain. In just 10,000 years the size of man’s brain in creased by 50%. It was this development that led to modern man conquering the rest of the known world.
New research finds that the healthy omega-3s in shellfish actually block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Plus, omega-3s keep blood vessel walls flexible, prevent dangerous blood clots and lower the production of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol. Eating any shellfish twice each week can lower the risk of heart disease by 29%.
Monosaturated Fats: found in nuts, avocado, and olive oil, cause the release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which tells the brain to stop eating
Povunsaturated fats. For decades it was assumed that these fats were good for us; considered the opposite of saturated fats. But, according to Dirk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, Life Extension, polyunsaturated fats are susceptible to auto-oxidation (conversion to a peroxidized, immune-suppressive, clot-promoting, carcinogenic form). They go on to say, “While the cardiovascular disease rate has been increasing in the United States, it has been accompanied by a 37% rise in polyunsaturated fat consumption and only a 7% increase in saturated fat consumption.”
Saturated Fats: The fats we eat are mostly saturated fats that rigger an endorphin release that prolongs the eating process. We normally equate saturated fat with red meat from farm-raised, grain feed cattle. But the lipid profile of free-ranging, organically grown animals is closer to olive oil than it is to penned animals. There are also higher levels of monosaturated fats than saturated or polyunsaturated fats in free-ranging animals.
There are two families of unsaturated fats – the omega 6 fats found mainly in plant-based oils, and the omega-3 fats found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds – were in relative balance a century ago. The modern diet now emphasizes omega-6 fats by as much as 25-1. Omega-6 fats encourage inflammation, while omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory. Some fatty acids are essential fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential omga-3 fatty acid, while linoleic acid is an essential omega-6 fatty acid. But he western diet already includes excessive omega-6 fats. The key to correct the distorted ratio is to in crease the consumption of omega-3 fats from walnuts, seeds, fish, fish oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soy, and dark green leaves such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and seaweed.
Trans Fats: Vegetable oil infused with hydrogen is used in thousands of highly processed commercial foods but puts people at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and even muscle wasting. Take nachos, French fries, and cinnamon rolls off the menu. Trans fats are the worst of all. Not only are they poison for your heart but trans fats also add inches to your waste line. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition covering 16,500 men over a period of 9 years, researchers found that for every 2% increase in trans fat intake, men added one-third inch to their waists. Mono and polyunsaturated fats had no effect. Saturated fats seemed to affect total weight, but not the waist. Trans fats also reduce insulin sensitivity, which may contribute to abdominal obesity.
Modern methods of manufacturing cooking oils, margarines, and shortening also create harmful by-products and distorted forms of fat molecules that did not exist in human diets when our digestive processes evolved. The effects of these pathological forms of fat are worsened by frying foods at high temperatures.
But to those who say cut out all or most fats from your diet, a warning. Some fats are essential to our health and well-being. Beneficial fats help in the body’s creation of hormones, phospholipids (used to create the membranes that surround our cells), and prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that control a wide variety of functions, such as platelet stickiness and blood pressure). A major study conducted by Harvard found that nurses who ate at least one ounce of nuts per day had 75% less heart disease that those who did not eat nuts.

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