Our body can’t live without fats. Good fats help to boost your immune system by keeping cell membranes fluid and flexible which in turn affects the white blood cells that repel invaders of the body.
Good fats promote normal growth, especially of blood vessels and nerves. They keep the skin and other tissues youthful and supple through lubrication and retaining moisture.
Good fats also participate in hormone-making process. So, if you are not consuming enough of the proper fats, you will not be able to make and balance hormones properly.
We can’t have a total fat-free diet and expect to stay healthy. We need significant amount of essential fatty acids to function properly and enhance immunity. The nutritional deficiencies related to a fat-free diet have been linked to arthritis, cardiovascular disease, PMS, headaches and even cancers.
What are “good fats”? *
Omega Ω 3:
These are poly-unsaturated fats that can be found in fish oil, and unrefined vegetable oils such as flaxseed and walnuts. For Omega 3's healing protocol, aka, Dr Budwig's Diet, click here.
The most important two fatty acids in the Omega 3 family are EPA and DHA as these are in limited supply and only found in any real quantities in oily fish and fish oil supplements. Although DHA is important for pregnant and nursing mothers and for young children for healthy development of the brain and vision, EPA can be considered the most important for everyone else as it is necessary for the efficient functioning of the brain and the body at a cellular level. Remember: we live and die at the cellular level!
The Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant properties as well as many other important health benefits. They reduce inflammation and can provide protection against cardiovascular disease, arthritis, skin conditions, depression and other mood-related disorders.
Omega Ω 6
These polyunsaturated fats though considered good, however, as it forms the bulk of our dietary fats, therefore, it is best to ingest less of it. Omega 6 can be found in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, grape seed, and sesame. Safflower oil is the richest natural source of Omega 6.
Omega 6 is generally classed as pro-inflammatory, however, paradoxically GLA (Evening Primrose and borage are the most famous sources), has anti-inflammatory properties. It can help to relieve the bloating and pain associated with PMS. It also maintains healthy skin, hair and nails and generally helps to bring about hormonal and emotional balance.
Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFA’s), meaning that our body cannot manufacture them, and we must consume them in our diets. Omega 3 and Omega 6 interact with each other so the balance between them is crucial for good health.
Omega 6:3 Balance
Omega 6 and Omega 3 essential fatty acids are best consumed in a ratio of about 3:1 - three part of omega 6 for one part of omega 3.
Most Western diets range between 10 and 20 to 1 in favor of omega 6, which is not good for health. We eat too much omega 6 fat and not enough omega 3 fat.
Omega Ω 9
Omega 9 fatty acids are monounsaturated and are non-essential meaning that our body can manufacture them from other fats. Omega 9 oils are monounsaturated, and olive oil is one of richest sources of Omega 9. Omega 9’s main component, Oleic acid, helps to reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Other than extra virgin olive oil, excellent sources include safflower and sunflower oils, avocados, fresh nuts and seeds.
Saturated Fats and Cholesterol Are NOT The Killers!
According to the study done in the United States, saturated fats are not the killers. Based on the statistics, from 1910 to 1970, the proportion of traditional animal fat in the American diet declined from 83% to 62%, yet the heart disease has increased and caused at least 40% of all US deaths.
In a multi-year British study involving several thousand men, half were asked to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol in their diets, to stop smoking and to increase the amounts of unsaturated oils such as margarine and vegetable oils. After one year those on the “good” diet had 100% more deaths than those on the “bad” diet, in spite of the fact that those men on the “bad” diet continued to smoke! -Lancet, 1983, 1:1062-1065.
Mother's milk provides a higher proportion of cholesterol than almost any other food. It also contains over 50% of its calories as fat, much of it saturated fat. Both cholesterol and saturated fat are essential for growth in babies and children, especially the development of the brain. Therefore, don’t recommend a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet at least for the children!
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
Fats found in most food are typically Long Chain Fatty Acids (LCFA, found in the long chain triglycerides) that require bile salts (secreted by the gallbladder) for digestion and absorbed into the lymphatic system, which explains why most people have trouble digesting fats because their bile ducts are blocked.
Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA found in Medium Chain Triglycerides, MCTs) is much more water soluble and its molecules are smaller than other fatty acids therefore require less energy and fewer pancreatic enzymes or bile salts to break down and is rapidly diffused from the small intestine to the liver via the portal circulation, where it gets metabolized to carbon dioxide, water and energy, instead of being deposited in the body as fat. This is very important in anyone with a digestive tract problem because less strain is put on the pancreas, liver and digestive system or in premature babies with under developed digestive organs.
Therefore MCFA, compared to LCFA, is better handled in those with malabsorption syndromes including pancreatic disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and disorders of the lymph system.
MCFA also facilitates our body’s absorption of vitamin E, magnesium and calcium, fat soluble vitamins, lipophilic nutrients (carotenoids, flavonoids) and supplemental EFAs (ALA, EPA, DHA, GLA)
Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil and butter are MCFA-rich and have the high concentration of naturally-occurring Lauric Acid. However, butter also contains cholesterol.
Lauric acid (also found in mother’s milk) gets converted to monolaurin in the body that can inhibit the growth of pathogenic microbes, providing anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-viral protection. This helps to strengthen the immune system, protecting body from a wide range of diseases. This is why babies fed with mother’s milk appeared to be healthier and stronger than those fed with infant’s formulas.
The Real Killer: TRANS FATS [hydrogenated fats]
Unsaturated fats (liquid at room temperature) are more unstable that saturates, and they go rancid even at low temperatures. The hydrogenation of unsaturated fats cause them to “imitate” saturates which makes them more stable and therefore have a longer shelf life. This hydrogenation process produces trans fats, a synthetic or artificial fat that the human body cannot naturally process.
According to one study, women who eat higher levels of trans fats are almost four times more likely to have breast cancer.
Research has also shown these fats increase the LDL cholesterol, decrease the HDL cholesterol and thus increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Additionally, they interfere with the metabolic absorption efficiencies and tend to congregate at adipose (fat) tissue sites. Trans fats are extremely difficult to excrete from the body and are a low quality energy source. In other words...they make you fatter!
It takes 3 times longer to metabolize trans fat, based on study in the States, it takes 1 month to break down half of the normal fats consumed, but it takes 3 months to metabolize half of the trans fats consumed. Therefore, consumption of tans fat would make one fatter and longer.
Hydrogenated fats are found in almost every processed food in the supermarket from soups to chips, crackers, pastries, frozen foods, deep-fried foods, margarine and even some cereals. When reading labels, you can spot them by seeing if the word “hydrogenated” is on the ingredient list.
Losing Weight Should Not Be That Complicated!
Having said that, for most people losing weight is a complicated and expensive exercise. Conventional diets encourage the obsession by having you count calories or remembering what you can or cannot eat, and frequently, fats are being seen as the culprit. Losing weight should not be complicated.
It’s the nutritional quality of food combined with exercise that make us healthy and maintain our natural body shape.
Therefore, instead of counting fat grams, it is better to train your focus on nutritional quality of the food. By eating more nutritious foods and including some QUALITY fat in your diet you will get hungry less often. **
For optimum weight loss, keep your overall fat/oil consumption to a sensible level of 25-30 percent of calories; although 20-25 per cent is better; Dr Udo Erasmus, the authority in Fats Research, advocates 15-20 per cent. Experience shows that with the correct ratio of healthy fats in the diet, body will maintain its natural shape easily.
Though fats have greater calorie per gram as compared with proteins and carbohydrates, however, they tend to burn more slowly and less explosive than simple carbohydrate. Moreover, research showed that a meal high in carbohydrates is equally fattening. High intake of carbohydrates not only stresses the liver and pancreas by raising the blood sugar level too quickly, it is also fattening. This is because after about 2 to 3 hours, if bulk of the blood glucose is not being taken up by the cells, the liver will have no choice but to convert it into fat!
*Editor’s note: please note that all the polyunsaturated fats can’t withstand high temperature, so please refrain from using them for frying, roasting and barbecue. Essential fatty acids turn rancid and go off very quickly. They should be kept away from light, heat and air (especially after unsealed). They last up to a few months at most in the fridge in the tightly sealed bottle, if you’re not going to use it for awhile, please put it in the freezer to retard the oxidize process. Also, they are destroyed by commercial processing, so always buy FRESH COLD PRESSED and Extra Virgin. Finally, pesticides often gather in fats and oils, so buy ORGANIC whenever possible.
**It is a good habit to blend one to two tablespoons of quality oil into your foods. It is filling and make you feel full and prevent you from overeating. Also, do stick with the 70% satiated rule, i.e., 40% of solid food, 30% of liquid, and 30% of emptiness. Finally, chew your food until it’s liquefied before ingesting it.