The Skinny on Fat, by Deb Bixler
The Skinny on fat is that fat is essential to all bodily functions. Fat is essential for creating energy and having a good metabolism. In today’s society many people have played into the illogical school of thought that we should eat fat free, or at least as fat-free as possible. This could not be further from the truth. The truth is that our body needs fats to do it’s job. Just like carbs we need to eat fats every meal to give our metabolism the right fuel to burn. All fats are created equal in one way and that is that gram for gram they are the same amount of calories no matter what kind of fat it is. All fat is not created equal in the health arena though as some fats cause degenerative health and some fats cause regenerative health.
Linus Pauling, the two time winner of the Nobel peace prize says that most diseases and abnormalities can be prevented, treated and sometimes cured with optimum nutrition. By consuming optimal levels of naturally occurring substances, such as vitamins, dietary minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, amino acids, lipotropes, essential fatty acids, pro-hormones, dietary fiber, fatty acids. These items are frequently called the essential nutrients. As you can see the essential nutrients also includes fats.
Fats make it possible for our body to do everything it is designed for: digest food, eliminate waste, minimize stress, think clearly, breath, reproduce cells, fight off diseases, and even loose weight! With out fat, like vitamins, minerals and enzymes we degenerate rather than regenerate. Our bodies have 80 trillion cells and 100,000 die every minute. Without the proper essential nutrients including fat, we can not replace them. When we do not replace cells as fast as we loose them we degenerate as opposed to regenerate. We age before our time and become susceptible to a multitude of illnesses.
So how do we know how to pick the right fats? Get a paper and pencil and I am going to give you a simple way to make your daily fat choices. Put your paper horizontally and draw a line from one side to the other. In the center write the number 5 and on the right a 10 and on the left put a zero. Every fat on earth falls into that scale of zero to ten with zero being the worst fat on earth and 10 being the best fats on earth. Our job on a daily basis is to pick the best fat available for the job in each situation.
Saturated fats fall in at a number 2-4 maybe. Examples of saturated fats are animal fats, coconut butter and other naturally solid fats. A saturated fat is "saturated" with hydrogen atoms. That is what makes it solid at room temperature.
All food we eat contains a variety of naturally saturated and unsaturated fat. Foods that contain a high proportion of saturated fat are butter, lard, coconut oil, cottonseed oil and palm kernel oil, dairy products (especially cream and cheese), meat as well as processed foods.
Our unsaturated fats fall into several categories. Fats in the unsaturated group are always liquid at room temperature. Any fat which is naturally a liquid at room temperature will place higher on your chart then those naturally solid at room temperature.
Monounsaturated fats are found in natural foods like nuts and avocados, These are all liquids at room temperature and are considered the good fats. Other good fats are corn oil, soybean oil, grape seed oil, sesame oil. Put them on your list at the 5-8 range of fats. Monounsaturated fats are also the main component of olive oil. Olive oil, flax seed oil and Canola oil also have the good polyunsaturated fats. Put canola oil, olive oil, safflower oil and flax seed oil near the 9 range of your chart because they have a nice blend of the good fats. (mono, poly) Olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet, widely regarded as being protective against cardiovascular disease because of the balance in good fats. It is important to have a variety of fats in your diet to be sure to have a blend of the good fats.
Other foods which have polyunsaturated fat are your grain products, fish and sea food (herring, salmon, mackerel, halibut), soybeans, mayonnaise, and fish oil. Polyunsaturated fat is necessary for the body and protects against illness. So place these grain and vegetable fats in the range of 5-8 on your chart and the fish items at 9.
Next we have our Omega fatty acids. Those are the omega 3, 6, and 9 fats. Important omega-3 fatty acids in human nutrition are found in fish oil, fish and seafood lowers the total amount of fat in your blood, which can lower your blood pressure and decrease the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. The human body cannot synthesize omega-3 fatty acids from scratch. There are several types of Omega 3 fats but the most importation is Alpha-linolenic acid because we can synthesize all the other necessary omega-3 fatty acids from the omega-3 fatty acid from Alpha-linolenic acid, therefore Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential nutrient which must be obtained from food, and then we can produce all the other omega 3 fats. Omega 3’s go on your scale at about 10. That would be seafood and fish oils.
We need all 3 omega fats, but they must be in proportion to each other in the right ratios. Today most people are out of balance with far to many omega 9 in proportion to the other 2 omega fats. Both are classified as essential but we need them to be in balance. Dietary sources of omega-6 fatty acids include: cereals, whole-grain breads, most vegetable oils, eggs and poultry, as well as baked goods. These fats fall in the chart in the 4-8 range.
There are several blended oils on the market through specialty companies that combine all the best oils together to create the most optimum results for the effect you are looking for. Using a blended oil with all omega 3-6-9 will give you the correct ratio of the different fats to each other which is equally as important to you body’s ability to utilize the fat for what is intended. A blended omega 3-6-9 oil will be a 10 on your zero to 10 scale. These fats are predominately missing from the American diet and investing in good oils for the creation of scratch salad dressings and baking will fill a void in our diets.
As you may have noticed no oil is only one type of fat. So picking oils that are liquid at room temperature usually gives you a variety of fatty nutrients.
There is one more type of fat which we need to talk about and that is Trans fats. Trans fats occur naturally, in small quantities, in meat and dairy products . Most trans fats consumed today, however, are industrially created when man hydrogenates plant oils — a process developed in the early 1900s and was first commercialized in 1911. Hydrogenation or Partial hydrogenation changes a fat's molecular structure resulting in a solid fat. This process also results in the fat becoming a trans fat. A Hydrogenated fat is one which is naturally a liquid at room temperature and man adds hydrogen to create a solid fat. Hydrogenation of liquid vegetable oils increases their shelf life and makes them solid at room temperature, similar but not comparable to pure, unadulterated, saturated fat. A saturated fat is better for you and falls higher on the fat scale than a hydrogenated or trans fat. Hydrogenated fats are the worst fat on earth, a zero on the scale. Partially hydrogenated fats are a 2 and saturated fats (naturally hydrogenated fats) are 3-4 on the scale.
Unlike other fats, trans fats are neither required nor beneficial for health. Eating trans fat increases the risk of coronary heart disease and causes other health issues. For these reasons, health authorities recommend that consumption of trans fat be reduced to small amounts. Trans fats are being linked to chronic health conditions; are tightly regulated in a few countries, and are the issue in several ongoing lawsuits in the US (particularly against fast food chains). Many companies are voluntarily removing trans fats from their products, or establishing trans-free product lines.
Assume that Olive oil, flax seed or fish oils and the like is a 9/10 on our scale and that hydrogenated fat is a 0. Everything else falls in between. Olive oil, fish oil flax seed oil and other good fats, actually reduces your bad cholesterol and increases you good cholesterol. They actually reduce your chances of heart disease and allow your body to regenerate cells properly assuming all the other essential nutritional needs are met. The problem today is that most convenience foods contain huge quantities of hydrogenated fats. This man-made fat can not be metabolized so it stays in your system clogging things up. Hydrogenated fats are the same as trans fats. In the future it will be required to indicate on the nutritional analysis trans fats, but they are easy to spot in the ingredients list because the ingredient list will say hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. Remember that the ingredient list is the facts. The label is a marketing ploy. It can say fat-free or trans-fat free and still have hydrogenated fats in it because the government has decided that a food may be considered fat free provided it is less than a certain percentage of the whole portion.
On our fat scale 0-10 scale Hydrogenated fats are a 0 and those previously mentioned top 4 good oils are a 10 and everything else fall in between. Pick your products for the best choice available for that particular food. Butter is not the worst, it is just not as good as olive oil, so if you are making cookies use butter instead of hydrogenated solid shortening. Use half and half for your Alfredo sauce instead of cream to reduce the saturated fat.
Remember that we need fat to loose weight too. Your metabolism depends on having a good balance of fats. Yes, to loose weigh we want to reduce calories and reducing fat is a good way to do that, but do not reduce fat to levels that sabotage your metabolism. Do not eliminate fats, just understand your choices and put together a string of choices which add up to health. Vegetable fats or any fat that is naturally a liquid at room temperature is always a better choice. Seed oils, grain fats, corn oil will fall in the 6-8 range and saturated fats; solid fats at room temperature butter, animal fats, etc, will come in the range of 1-5. Keep in mind every thing is a choice. You can choose a saturated fat, say butter over a hydrogenated margarine. Remember that it is your choices that all add up, one day at a time.
Look in your cupboards, or refrigerator and record what foods have what kinds of fats so next time you are making a choice at the grocery store you can find a better product. You need to know where you are now in order to know what steps to take for the future! Eliminating all fats from your diet is impossible; eating as low a fat as is humanly possible is like dumping a bucket of water on a fire, it smolders your metabolism. Stoke that fire by consuming the good fats!
You will have more energy and a higher metabolism when you consume the good fats. So what exactly is the skinny on fat? The skinny on fat is that it is good, but we tend to eat all the wrong fats everyday. Take control of your health by understanding what you are putting into your body. Make a decision to watch the types of fats you are eating and it will make a difference in your life.
Deb Bixler www.FoodSmart.tv 717.751.2793 DebBixler@FoodSmart.tv