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Chewing the Fat – Literally

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We need to look at dietary fats and fads. In the 1990s, a new era of fat came into the diet scene. New products were rampant with no fat, low fat and negligible fat labels. Low fat diets were said to prevent cancer, prevent heart disease and promote weight loss. I mean, it is simplistic isn’t it? If we are what we eat and we see we have gained fat, it must be the fat making us fat. Wrong.

Research that was done at Harvard and reported in the Journal of American Medical Association proves that it is not the amount of fat in the diet but rather the type of fat in your diet that prevents disease and encourages weight loss. An eight-year study showed there is no prevention of heart disease, cancers or even weight loss with a group of women who ate a low fat diet.

What research has shown is that the good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats lower the risk for disease while bad fats like trans and saturated are shown to increase the risk of disease. So the key is to find good fats.

Fat has an important role in a successful fitness journey eating plan. Fat gives the digestion something to do. It takes longer to digest fat and it makes you feel fuller for longer. We need fats for energy, insulation and for regulating our hormones and metabolism.

Animals store their energy in fat. Animal fat is known as “saturated fat”. If our diet contains too much saturated fat we can accumulate cholesterol and triglycerides in our blood. As we know, these are the substances that clog our arteries and are a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. However, beef contains a fatty acid called stearic acid. Studies have shown that stearic acid can reduce the “bad” cholesterol in the blood. This just proves that moderation with red meat is the key and that ruling it out is not needed in a clean kitchen. Everyone offer a proverbial high five to nature for knowing what we need—naturally.

Plants store their own energy in unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are known as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive and canola oils. Polyunsaturated fats are essential in our diets as our body cannot produce them. Remember fatty acids are needed for normal growth and behavior and helps with healthy cell membranes, a well balanced hormone level and properly working immune system. Fatty acids play an important role in the regulation of cholesterol levels, and are precursors of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds producing various metabolic effects in tissues. You need essential fatty acids to regulate lung function, blood flow and immune function. Don’t eliminate all fats from your diet — let’s look at good fats! One of the most crucial polyunsaturated fats is Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fat. This can be found in corn oil, sunflower seeds and oil, as well as in supplement form. The other essential fatty acid is of a similar name, Linolenic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid. You can find this omega-3 in fish oils, nuts, and canola and soybean oils as well as in supplement form.

These fats are called essential fats because they are essential to our body; we need to ingest them because we cannot produce them on our own. With these healthy fats added into our diets we are prone to eat more natural foods and less processed foods. Eating less processed foods will allow for a healthier diet over all. Diseases that begin their path with an unhealthy diet won’t be able to take hold and your body will function at a more efficient level for good health. The American Heart Association suggests dosages up to four grams a day to help lower blood lipid levels along with other increased health benefits. If you eat a diet that includes one serving a day of a fatty fish such as salmon, you are taking in less tan one gram a day of omega-3. With today’s modern food assortment, most people turn to fish oil capsules to make up for the rest of the needed fats. So, why not pop a few fish oil capsules and join the fun!

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About Maureen Jeanson