You mention the word “fats” and people cringe. Fad dieters reach for their 100-calorie snack pack and curse you. Mothers cover the ears of their little children. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating…a little. Those that teach “fats” as a bad word, fail to recall that fats are essential components of our brain and our cellular membranes. Fats are vitally important to good health. And guess what? Consuming tons of “fat-free” foods can still make you fat because they are laden with extra refined carbohydrates that are stored as fat when consumed in excess! I can hear the packs of Chips A’hoy falling now.
Low-fat does not equal healthy. The low-fat food craze has made people fatter for several reasons. Here are a few.
- When fat is removed from processed foods, sugar is added in greater amounts and is often the predominant ingredient. This high sugar leads to high insulin secretion, which leads to increased hunger and fat storage.
- Eating a moderate amount of the right kind of fat helps you to feel full faster, decreasing your appetite, and giving you more control over what you eat. This allows you to make better food choices each day.
Now we are not given a license to eat as much fat as we want, but we shouldn’t be “fat-phobic” either. You need healthy fats to keep you healthy.
Fats You Should Choose
- Cold-water fish
- Flaxseed oil
- Grape seed oil
- Nut butters
- Olive oil (cold pressed)
- Safflower oil (cold pressed)
- Soybean oil (cold pressed)
- Sesame oil (cold pressed)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
Fats to Avoid
- Cakes, cookies, doughnuts
- Potato chips and other snack foods
- Deep-fried foods
- Palm and palm kernel oil
- Cheese (most hard)
- Red meat
- Poultry skin
- Trans fats such as “partially hydrogenated” oils
Healthy fats maintain the flexibility and pliability of your cell membranes to change shape. When a hormone or an enzyme binds to receptors on your cell it causes the cell to actually change its conformation. This is vitally important for everything to work properly. There are limited “parking spots” for fat storage on the cell membrane. So you can either have a good fat or a bad fat parked there.
Try this little experiment at home. Take two strands of hair. Drop one in a container of Crisco lard. Did anything happen? Did the Crisco budge? No. Now take another strand of hair and drop it onto the surface of some olive oil and watch as it breaks the surface and changes the surface structure. Now this really high-tech science experiment is designed to show you that you want healthy fats that allow movement lining you cell membranes and not immobile lard.
Also of importance when speaking of fats is your omega6:omega3 ratio of fatty acids in your body. I won’t spend much time on this topic here. We could spend entire days talking about the omega-3 index. We will have some posts in the future though, so don’t worry. Our omega 6:3 ratio should be around 1.4-3:1. There is some debate as the actual optimal level but the range is pretty standard in the literature. If your ratio is 15:1 or greater there is a significant increase in your risk of developing a lifestyle chronic disease. Unfortunately, far too many Americans are over 15:1 and the average American has a 6:3 ratio of 25:1! A simple blood spot test can identify your risk ratio. This is a great test that we run on children and adults. Developing brains must have the proper fats or they will have significant learning disabilities.
One of the reasons that red meat is inflammatory and detrimental to your health is because of the high omega6:3 ratio. This is due to the fact that conventional cattle raising involves feeding cattle corn and grains that are high in omega-6. This is done to fatten them up quickly so they can be shipped to slaughter. Grass-fed beef is a much healthier choice (as long as it has never been grain fed) because the omega 6:3 ratio is significantly better.
So take your fish oils each day. Choose healthy fats. Stop following the misleading claims of the “fat-free” revolution.