The Shocking Truth about Dietary Fats and Saturated Fats

Is eating fat bad for you? We’ve been conditioned to believe that eating fat adds fat to your abs and other areas of your body, in addition to being bad for your overall health.

Consider this;

Traditional Pacific Islanders who typically obtained 2/3 to 3/4 of their total daily calories from fat (mostly from coconut fat), remain virtually free from heart disease, obesity, and other modern degenerative diseases (that is, until Western dietary influences invaded)

Traditional Eskimo populations, consuming up to 75% of their total caloric intake from fat (mostly from whale blubber, seal fat, organ meats, and cold water fish), display superior health and longevity without heart disease or obesity.

Members of the Masai tribe in Africa remain free from degenerative diseases and maintain low body fat percentages on diets consisting of large quantities of raw whole milk, blood, and meat.

The Samburu tribe of Africa, which eats an average of 5 times the quantity of dietary fat (mostly from raw whole milk and meat) as overweight, disease-ridden Americans, yet Samburu members are lean, healthy, and free of degenerative diseases.

Fats is one of the main components found in cell membranes. Normal cell function requires the absorption of nutrients found only in fats. Western culture has tried to short cut and profit from the fat craze by creating a marketing frenzy of getting fat out of your diet. They capitalized on producing foods with ample packaging suggesting low to no fat contained in the package. In addition they have created the bad fat products or synthetic foods that cause the storage of fat in our beverages especially soft drinks, canned foods (high fructose corn syrup), crackers, chips, white flour products.


Our natural food supply here in the US has changed over the decades to be more processed and chemically induced robbing our bodies of the nutrients it needs including good fats.  The lack of good fats in the diet can lead to cell dysfunction creating degenerative diseases. Is it any wonder why we have the highest diabetes and obesity rates in the world?

In addition, healthy dietary fats are necessary for optimal hormone production and balance within the body and are therefore essential for the muscle building and fat burning processes.  Other important functions that dietary fats play in a healthy body are aiding vitamin and mineral utilization, enzyme regulation, energy, etc.

Don’t let the low fat diet chat fool you. You need some fat in the foods you consume. The major difference being where did the fat come from, mother nature or synthetically from man?

The problem is that the good fats have gotten mistakenly lumped together in nutritional advice with the deadly processed fats and oils that make up a large percentage of almost all processed food that is sold at your local grocery store, restaurant, deli, fast food joint, etc. These deadly processed fats are literally everywhere and almost impossible to avoid unless you know what to look for and make smart choices.

This is NOT a recommendation to go on a high fat diet by no means. If you are active and exercise regularly you will need adequate supplies of healthy carbohydrates for energy and muscle glycogen replenishment as well as good sources of protein for muscle repair. Stated above with peoples from other cultures shows that fat in the diets are not detrimental to their health. It has been found to be the opposite. You don’t need to be afraid of dietary fats as long as you make healthy natural choices and stay within your daily caloric range to maintain or lose weight (depending on your goals).

Healthy Fatty Food Choices:

 Coconut fat: Coconut fat is approximately 92% saturated fat, yet surprisingly to most people, is considered a very healthy natural fat. The health benefits of coconut fat lie in its composition of approximately 65% medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).

Specifically, about 50% of coconut fat is a MCT called lauric acid, which has very potent anti-microbial properties helping to enhance the immune system. Also, MCTs are more easily utilized for immediate energy instead of being stored as body fat. 

Coconut oil is also an excellent cooking oil for stir-frying, etc. since saturated fats are much more stable and do not oxidize like polyunsaturated oils when exposed to heat and light, which creates damaging free radicals. The best sources of healthy coconut fat are organic coconut milk, virgin coconut oil (available at http://coconut-info.com), or fresh coconut.

Extra virgin olive oil:  Olive oil is approximately 71% monounsaturated, 16% saturated, and 13% polyunsaturated. Choose “extra virgin” olive oil, which comes from the first pressing of the olives and has higher quantities of antioxidants.

Unlike most other oils on supermarket shelves, extra virgin olive oil is not extracted with the use of harmful industrial solvents and is one of your healthiest choices for liquid oils. Try making your own salad dressing by mixing a small amount of olive oil with vinegar. This is healthier than most store bought salad dressings, which are usually made with highly processed and refined (chemically damaged) soybean oil extracted with industrial solvents.

Dark, bittersweet chocolate (>70% cocoa):  The cocoa bean is a very concentrated source of antioxidants and responsible for part of the health benefit of dark chocolate. The fat portion of the cocoa bean (cocoa butter) is a healthy natural fat, composed of approximately 59% saturated fat (mostly healthy stearic acid), 38% monounsaturated fat, and 3% polyunsaturated fat.

I’ll limit the description of healthy chocolate to ONLY dark bittersweet chocolate with >70% cocoa content. Most milk chocolates are only about 30% cocoa, and even most dark chocolates are only about 55% cocoa, leaving the remainder of those products composed of high amounts of sugar, milk fat, corn sweeteners, etc.

Look for a quality dark chocolate that lists its cocoa content like Chocolove Extra Dark (77%) or Dagoba New Moon (74%), which contain mostly cocoa and very little sugar. Keep in mind that although dark chocolate can be a healthy treat, it is still calorie dense, so keeping it to just a square or two is a good idea.

Avocados or guacamole:  The fat in avocados (depending on where they’re grown) is approximately 60% monounsaturated, 25% saturated, and 15% polyunsaturated. Avocados are a very healthy natural food that provides many nutrients, fiber, and healthful fats, while adding a rich flavor to any meal.

Try sliced avocado on sandwiches or in salads or use guacamole in wraps, sandwiches, or quesadillas in place of mayo.

 High fat fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, trout, etc.:  Just about any fish or seafood are good sources of natural omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, but the higher fat fish listed above are the best sources of omega-3’s.

Due to the radical switch to a higher proportion of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats like soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, etc. in our food supply during the middle of the 20th century, the average western diet is currently way too high in omega-6’s compared to omega-3’s, which wreaks havoc in your body.

This is where good omega-3 sources like high fat fish, walnuts, and flax seeds can help bring you back to a better ratio of omega-6/omega-3.

Nuts (any and all – walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews, macadamias, etc.): Nuts are great sources of healthy unprocessed fats as well as minerals and other trace nutrients. Macadamias, almonds, and cashews are great sources of monounsaturated fats, while walnuts are a good source of unprocessed polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3’s). Try to avoid nuts that are cooked in oil. Instead, choose raw or dry roasted nuts.

Seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds):  All of these seeds are great sources of natural unprocessed healthy fats. In particular, flax seeds have received a lot of attention lately due to their high omega-3 content.

However, keep in mind that omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are highly reactive to heat and light, and prone to oxidation and free radical production. Therefore, freshly ground flax seed is the only way to go. Instead of using the store bought ground flax seed, you can buy whole flax seed and use one of those miniature coffee grinders to grind your own flax seed. Try grinding fresh flax seed into your yogurt, cereal, or even your salad.  If you’re using a flax oil, make sure it’s a cold-pressed oil in a light-proof refrigerated container, and use it up within a few weeks to prevent it from going rancid.

NEVER cook with flax oil!

 The fat in organically raised, free-range animals:  This is where most people have been misinformed by the mass media. Animal fat is inherently good for us, that is, if it came from a healthy animal. Human beings have thrived on animal fats for thousands of years. The problem is, most mass produced animal products today do not come from healthy animals. They come from animals given loads of antibiotics and fattened up with hormones and fed un-natural feed.

The solution is to choose organically raised, free-range meats, eggs, and dairy.

Some of the content in this article was provide by my partner Mike Geary, Certified Nutritionist.

 


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