The Truth About Fats

The subject of fat in the diet tends to be controversial. One thing we should keep in mind is that eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat. Overeating is usually the cause of excess weight, so don’t stress about eating healthy fats, just eat them in moderation like everything else.

Fats Create Long-Lasting Energy…

Healthy fats provide a concentrated source of energy in the body, as well as provide the building blocks for cell membranes – necessary for healthy cells. Fats help slow down nutrient absorption, enabling you to go longer between meals. Fats act as carriers for vitamins A, D and E, as well as aiding in the absorption of minerals. We need fats for our bodies to function properly, so be wary of products at the store that are low-fat or fat-free. If it’s a healthy fat, you may want the full-fat version.

Damaged Fats Cause Dysfunction in Your Body…

One reason why certain fats are damaging to our bodies is because they have been heated to a high temperature, like in frying, causing the oil to be damaged. Damaged oil causes free radicals in the body, which in turn cause tumors, heart disease and a number of other illnesses. Lightweight oils like safflower, corn, canola, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils should never be used for cooking. Unfortunately most chips and crackers are heated and processed using those oils, and most restaurants use them for frying because they are inexpensive. Hydrogenated fats like margarine and shortening are highly processed and also damaging, causing immune system dysfunction among many other problems. When you eat hydrogenated oils, your cell membranes that should normally be made of healthy saturated fat are replaced with hydrogenated fat. Your body truly becomes “partially hydrogenated.”

Understanding Saturated Fat…

Don’t be afraid of saturated fat. A fatty acid is saturated when all available carbon bonds are occupied by a hydrogen atom, making the fat highly stable and giving it the ability to hold up to high heat cooking and avoid rancidity. It forms a solid fat at room temperature, like butter. Saturated fat has been demonized for years, with very little evidence to support the theories, but more and more nutritionists are looking at animal fats and tropical oils and seeing their benefit.
History of Heart Disease…

A little history clarifies the issue further. Before the 1920s, heart disease was rare. During the next 40 years, by the 1950s, heart disease had risen to be the leading cause of death in America. What changed? Were Americans eating more saturated fat? No. It was the advent of processed food. Animal fat actually declined in the diet from 83% to 62%, and butter consumption plummeted. Why? Because people were buying margarine, shortening and refined, lightweight vegetable oils, which all increased by 400%. The consumption of sugar and processed foods increased by 60%. Today heart disease causes about 40% of deaths in America.

The Best Fats For You…

There are many delicious and nutritious fats you can use in your kitchen. Coconut oil is wonderful for baking and sautéing, and is known as a weight-loss fat.. Palm oil has a distinctive Island flavor and also holds up well with higher-heat cooking. These tropical oils are anti-microbial; they help your body fight bacteria, viruses and fungus. Olive oil is traditional and best eaten raw on a salad or drizzled over cooked vegetables or meats, although it can also handle moderate heat.

Animal fats hold up very well in higher heat, like lard, duck and goose fat, chicken fat, suet and tallow (beef fat). Animal fats should come from organic, free-range animals. Peanut Oil and Sesame Oil can also be used for frying occasionally, but their makeup is imbalanced with high omega-6, so they should be used sparingly in the diet. Flax seed oil is high in omega-3, which balances out the omega-6, but it should be used in very small amounts on salads or in spreads, never heated, and always kept refrigerated. Too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 can cause inflammation, depressed immune system, and cancer. (A side note: Store-bought eggs should be organic and free-range; otherwise the hens are fed grain which creates an extreme imbalance in the omega-6/omega-3. Look for deep yellow-orange yolks to show high nutrition.)

Don’t forget about butter: it’s antimicrobial, boosts the immune system, provides quick energy, helps calcium to be absorbed, and handles heat well. Use it generously in cooking, baking and sautéing. The best quality butter will come from organic, free-range, grass-fed cows. It should be a dark yellow, which shows high nutrients.

If you would like a free phone consultation with Dr. Bonacci regarding diet and nutrition, please call any time at Arizona Pain & Posture at 480-585-0252.

Source: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

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