Good Fats vs Bad Fats
Fat is perhaps one of the most misunderstood of the three macronutrients (carbohydrate, タンパク質, fat). It can make or break your health, depending on your choices. The structure of the simplest fats consist of a glycerol backbone with three fatty acids attached.
Benefits: fat has many functions, including:
• it’s a major energy provider.
• vitamins A, D, E & K are stored in the liver and fatty tissues, hence the reason they are called fat-soluble vitamins.
• fat is an essential component of every cell in the body.
• fat pads the organs, thus, protecting them.
Deficiencies in healthy fats can cause a whole multitude of problems such as:
• fatty liver
• growth retardation
• hair loss
• heart disease
• impaired vision
• learning disabilities
• lower metabolism which may contribute toward wt gain
• polydipsia (frequent thirst)
• reproductive failure
• rheumatoid arthritis
• skin lesions
Excess fat contributes toward:
• certain types of cancer
• gallbladder disease
• kidney disease
• over weight
The Good Fats are unsaturated and essential fatty acids. Unsaturated fats consist of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s) get their name from the single carbon-carbon double bond they possess. Most MUFA’s are found in vegetable and nut oils such as olive, canola and peanut oil. MUFA’s affect cholesterol levels. The two primary types of cholesterol are LDL and HDL. MUFA’s decrease LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) get their name because they contain more than one carbon-carbon double bond. PUFA’s are found in largest amount in corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower oil. Certain fish oils are also high in PUFA’s. A benefit of PUFA’s is that they can lower your overall cholesterol level however, they have a tendency to also lower HDL (healthy) cholesterol. Although most oils/fats are a blend of MUFA and PUFA, they are named after the fat highest in abundance.
You probably hear a lot about omega-3 fatty acids in the news. Omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids are types of PUFA’s. Omega-9 fatty acids don’t get much attention though because they are not considered essential; this means that they can be made in the body. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, because it is essential that we obtain them from our diets in order to maintain good health. Most people get more than enough omega-6 fatty acids however, it is said that approximately 98% of Americans are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Children, in particular, are deficient in omega-3’s which is why EPA and DHA are often added to baby formula.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (PUFA’s)
• Hexadecatrienoic acid
• Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
• Stearidonic acid
• Eicosatrienoic acid
• Eicosatetraenoic acid
• Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
• Heneicosapentaenoic acid
• Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)
• Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA
• Tetracosapentaenoic acid
• Tetracosahexaenoic acid
Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, canned albacore tuna, other cold water fish, chia seed, flax seed, and hemp seed. Supplemental sources of omega-3 fatty acids: fish oil, flaxseed oil, algal oil. Supplemental oils are used in the treatment of disease including: cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis), cystic fibrosis, psychological stress, psychiatric disorders (depression, schizophrenia, ADHD), and certain types of cancer (breast, colon, lung, prostate, and cachexia).
Omega-6 Fatty Acids (PUFA’s)
• Linoleic acid (LA)
• Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA)
• Eicosadienoic acid
• Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)
• Arachidonic acid (AA)
• Docosadienoic acid
• Adrenic acid
• Docosapentaenoic acid
• Tetracosatetraenoic acid
• Tetracosapentaenoic acid
The most commonly occurring omega-6 fatty acids are linoleic acid (LA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), and arachidonic acid (AA). Omega-6 food sources are numerous including Oils: almond, canola, coconut, corn, hazelnut, olive, pistachio nut, pumpkin seed, rice bran, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower, walnut; Cereal grains: barley bran, corn germ, oat germ, rice germ, wheat bran and germ; Nuts & Seeds: beechnut, butternut, hickory, walnut, and the avocado.
Omega 9 Fatty Acids (not essential)
• Oleic acid
• Eicosanoic acid
• Mead acid
• Erucic acid
• Nervonic acid
The human brain consists of at least 60 percent fat, with cholesterol accounting for approximately 25 percent. That’s right, cholesterol. The brain is the most cholesterol-rich organ in the human body. In fact, without the proper amount of cholesterol and healthy fats, the brain is not able to function properly. Period. Contrary to what we have been taught, cholesterol is actually a good thing. Medical specialists and lay-persons alike have been taught erroneously, that cholesterol is bad. In fact, LDL cholesterol is not really cholesterol at all. It’s a cholesterol-carrying protein called low density lipoprotein which transports cholesterol from the liver to cells in the brain.
Cholesterol plays several roles in a healthy brain:
- cholesterol acts as an antioxidant.
- cholesterol is needed for the production of neurons.
- cholesterol is needed for the production of steroid hormones.
- cholesterol is needed for the structure of cell membranes in the body.
- cholesterol is a precursor for other nutrients that support brain health.
We have been taught that (1) cholesterol is bad and (2) a low fat, high carbohydrate diet is good. This is completely wrong in every sense of the word based on both current and past research. The only time that LDL “cholesterol” is bad, is when it becomes oxidized due to free radical production. The Cayce readings recommend cholesterol-rich egg yolks as being more beneficial than their whites.
Saturated fats are no longer considered Bad Fats. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2010) concluded that “intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increase risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease.” Saturated fats are found primarily in animal foods such as dairy (whole milk, cream, cheese) and meats.
The vegetable oils palm kernel (palm fruit oil is healthier) and coconut oil also contain saturated fat. Recent research has shown that coconut oil, which contains medium chain triglycerides (fatty acids), is actually considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It has been credited with improving the symptoms of Alzheimers disease and has many health benefits.
The Ugly are trans fats and fried foods. Trans fatty acids are formed when PUFA’s are hydrogenated, changing their chemical structure from a natural cis form to an unnatural trans form. Hydrogenating polyunsaturated oils is what changes them from a liquid to a solid or semi-solid form, to produce margarine and shortening. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol, increase triglycerides (most common type of fat in the body), and decrease HDL cholesterol. Diets high in trans fatty acids are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fried foods are bad for your health. Period. We’re not talking about sauteed or stir fried foods but foods that are fried in oil deep enough for them to swim in (doughnuts, french fries, onion rings, etc). Dr. Janet Stanford, Public Health Sciences Division, states that “when oil is heated to temperatures suitable for deep frying, potentially carcinogenic [cancer causing] compounds can form in the fried food.” In addition, when oil is heated to such a high temperature, it damages the chemical structure of the oil, thus producing free radicals, which are considered carcinogens.
Previous goals by the American Heart Association stated that the total amount of fat consumed daily shouldn’t exceed 25-35% . しかしながら, the human brain needs healthy fats and cholesterol to function optimally. Therefore, it is safe to consume up to 40% of calories from fat as long as you avoid deep fried foods and trans fats.
MUFA’s – no specific limit established but suggest 10-15% intake of total calories daily.
PUFA’s – most Americans get more than enough omega-6 fatty acids but not enough omega-3’s. The U.S. has no formal recommendations for the amounts of each of these but suggestions are to consume 7-10% of PUFA’s with only 1-2% as linoleic acid (omega-6).
Saturated fats – no longer thought to cause heart disease; instead the culprit is oxidized LDL.
Cholesterol – no longer needs to be avoided; rather, maintain an adequate level of antioxidants to prevent oxidation of LDL.
Deep Fried foods – avoid as these contain carcinogens
Trans fatty acids – avoid as these do cause heart disease.
(1) FitDay Article; (2) Omega 3: Implications in human health and disease by Douglas M. Bibus, PhD; (3) Dr. Oz; (4) American Heart Association; (5) Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, M.D.