By Ian Robinson on 08/19/2010
My grandmother cooked with lard her whole life. And my grandfather ate butter until the day he died… at 82 years old. Neither one of them had diabetes or heart disease. And both were slim built, even in their final years. They’re not unusual for their generation. Most people cooked with lard and ate butter. And enjoyed robust health.
That changed when the government turned against animal fats; when the manufacturers started making margarine. And with that change came vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats. The public tossed out natural saturated fats and embraced trans fats; and humanity’s greatest health disaster was borne. o:p>
In the final part of our macronutrient series, we’re going to see how fat fits into your diet. The simple truth about fat is: you have to eat fat to lose fat. The key to unlocking that paradox is eating the right kind of fat.
Fat: the Most Maligned Macronutrient
The “macronutrient triangle” is made up of three “points”: carbs, protein, and fat. To find out more about the two other “points”, check out carbs and protein.
The third macronutrient – fat – fell out of favor at the end of the 70’s. Once the 80’s hit, the government told us – through its Dietary Guidelines for Americans - that animal fats caused heart disease. The Guidelines recommended we limit our saturated fat to less than 10 percent of our daily calories. That opened the door to shortening substitutes and low-fat products. Over the next two decades, this advice led to an “an unanticipated epidemic of obesity and diabetes,” says Dr. Michael Alderman, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY.
It’s only in the last decade that the medical community has started to re-evaluate sat fats. And now the latest science is supporting sat fats.
A recent study found “no significant evidence” linking saturated fats to cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease. The study was published in the March edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
A second study, in the same issue, attributed America’s obesity and bad health to carbs – not sat fats.
These studies are only the latest to support this scientific fact. An earlier report reviewed saturated fat studies from the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California. The authors concluded that reducing saturated fat does not prolong life or lower the incidence of coronary heart disease.
The authors wrote: “The conclusion of an analysis of the history and politics behind the diet-heart hypothesis was that after 50 years of research, there was no evidence that a diet low in saturated fat prolongs life… lowering saturated fat intake does not lower coronary artery disease.”
In yet another study, the National Academy of Sciences reported there was no evidence that a diet low in saturated fat prolongs life. They concluded that the real killer is trans-fatty acids. The report stated, “the only safe intake of trans fat is zero.”
So if saturated fats aren’t bad for us, are they good for us? The answer, in short, is “yes”. In fact, THB Expert Panel Member Dr. Al Sears says, “I tell my patients they should get about 50 percent of their fat intake from saturated fat.”
The Man Who Ate Fat to Lose Fat
Eating trans fats can help you lose weight. It sounds unlikely but it’s true. Dozens of doctors have reported true-life success stories in their own daily practices. Let me share just one with you: it comes from Dr. Mark Hyman. Dr. Hyman serves on the Board of Advisors of Georgetown University and operates a practice in Lenox. MA.
“One of my patients was 40 years old when he had his first bypass operation. He followed his doctors’ recommendation to eat a low-fat diet and exercised. Over the next 10 years, he gained about 30 pounds and developed blockages in his new arteries. His doctor kept telling him to “eat low fat”. His overall cholesterol was fine, but his “good” cholesterol (HDL) level was very low. Finally, his doctor told him not to eat any fat at all. And at the end of all this, he had gained 50 pounds and needed another bypass after following his doctor’s recommendations to eat a low-fat diet!
“When I saw him it was clear he had a problem with insulin resistance because he was not eating the right fats. I told him to eat more fat – the right kind of fat – and he began to do much better. Eating a diet with good-quality protein and good-quality fat raised his good cholesterol, lowered his blood sugar, and change his whole system. Since then, he has been fine and has lost 50 pounds. He’s kept it off for four years, his inflammation is gone, and he feels great.”
Sat Fats Promote Hearty Health
Dr. Lawrence Wilson also supports sat fats for health. Dr. Wilson is an M.D. has worked as a nutrition consultant for over 30 years in Phoenix, AZ.
“My conviction is that the fears about saturated fats are quite overblown,” says Dr. Wilson. “Most knowledgeable nutritionists agree that fats and oils are essential for health.”
So, both experts agree: sat fats offer good health benefits. The next question is why are they good for us?
“Fats are essential to good health,” says Dr. Sears. “Omega-3 fatty acids are so critical, a deficiency can lead to depression, lack of concentration and a host of chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer.”
Dr Hyman agrees.
“These “good fats” are some of the raw materials from which our bodies are made…lack of omega-3s may also lead to depression, dementia, cancer heart disease, and diabetes,” says Hyman.
He adds that eating good fats “turns on a different set of genes”.
Eat the right fats and you will:
· Burn fat
· Increase weight loss
· Increase your metabolism
· Reduce inflammation
· Become more sensitive to insulin, which will balance your blood sugar
Another critical benefit of good fat is cholesterol. You have good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). Good fats boost your HDL.
“If you substitute carbs for fat, your HDL will drop,” says Dr. Sears (x). You don’t want to happen because “high HDL is the most reliable way to prevent heart disease.”
Good Sources of Sat Fats
This isn’t news to many Europeans. Both the Italians and French have always favored natural animal saturated fats over trans fats. You only have to walk around Paris to see the difference in people’s build: they are lean and vibrant. They’ve never shied away from trans fats - in moderation - and their health reflects this.
Simply put, fat is good for us… “but it’s important that you get it from the best sources,” says Dr. Sears.
Natural, healthy fat is a strong component in optimum health. The good news is that you can find it in abundance in whole foods. Two good sources of fat are saturated (animal) fat and omega-3 fats.
· Omega-3 – This is great for heart health. It protects against cardiovascular disease. It also helps to burn body fat. For good sources of omega-3s enjoy wild fish, avocado, walnuts, olives, cod liver oil, Sacha Inchi oil, and nuts.
· Saturated Fats –These fats boost your immunity system. They also help you to absorb calcium. Find it in grass-fed beef, raw milk, and raw butter.
You can find healthy sources of fat in these 10 foods:
· 1. Organic butter
· 2. Olive oil
· 3. Nuts
· 4. Raw milk
· 5. Cold water wild fish
· 6. Grain-fed beef
· 7. Walnuts
· 8. Free-range chicken
· 9. Eggs
· 10. Avocadoes
Butter Better Than Margarine?
So if saturated fats – like those contained in butter - are good for us, why are other fats – like those in margarine - so bad for us? Most of the fats that are bad for us – vegetable fat, hydrogenated fats, and trans fats – are man made. They’re stripped off natural vitamins and are artificial, chemical-based oils.
“Vegetable fat in the modern western diet is an abomination,” says Dr. Sears. “Vegetable fats are highly processed to extend their shelf lives. The processing creates unhealthy hydrogenation and cancer causing “trans” fatty acids.
“When a hydrogen molecule is added to vegetable oils, it turns them to fatty solids,” says Dr. Sears. “These fatty solids replace animal fats, allowing food makers to label their products “cholesterol free.”
While saturated fats come from nature, trans fats are almost always man-made. According to a study published by the Food and Nutrition Board, trans fats are not essential fats; nor do they promote good health.
Despite this, they’re used in margarine, shortening, and baked goods. Why load up processed foods with these non-essential fats?
“The real reason is the considerable profit that margarine, and other processed foods bring over the more expensive natural products,” says Dr. Wilson. “The cost of margarine is based on denatured vegetable oil which only costs a few cents, while good butter may cost a few dollars. This provides considerable room for easy profits. It does not take rocket science to market margarine just slightly less than butter and pocket the resulting huge profit.”
According to Dr. Wilson, margarine begins as chemically-extracted, refined vegetable oil. Margarine is produced at high temperatures which also destroys vitamin E, and other nutrients in the oil. The final product contains trans-fatty acids.
“Research shows that trans-fatty acids increase inflammation in the body,” says Dr. Wilson. “This can worsen illnesses such as colitis and arthritis. Very recent research indicates that trans-fatty acids in margarine raise LDL levels.”
On the other hand, natural butter is made from cream. Butter is a partially saturated fat and does not contain trans fat. It’s also a good source of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin A, D, E and K. None of these essential vitamins are found in significant quantities in margarine.
Dr. Hyman also names refined fats and hydrogenated fat as ones to avoid.
“Hydrogenated fat is one of the most toxic foods known and should have no place in you diet,” he says (xv). “Hydrogenated fats actually block your metabolism (leading to weight gain), raise your cholesterol, create inflammation, and cause cancer. They’re associated with dementia and cause diabetes.”
According to Dr. Hyman, “trans fats,” send a gene message which “blocks your metabolism, increases inflammation, and prevents you from being able to regulate your blood sugar, which causes insulin resistance.” And as we know, that can lead to weight gain and, in time, chronic illness.
“Eating the wrong fats turns on the wrong messages in your genes,” says Dr. Hyman. “Eating the right fats turns on the right messages.”
Fats to Avoid
Dr. Hyman recommends that you eliminate processed oils from your diet. That includes refined vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils.
Bad fats are the omega-6s. They are needed for a balanced diet, but only in small amounts. Dr. Sears says your health will improve if you have a much higher ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in the foods you eat. You can avoid high levels of omega-6, by not eating grain-fed beef, processed foods, and vegetable oil.
Trans fats are worse than Omega-6 fats. They’re the most dangerous fat you can have and should be completely avoided. You get them in processed packaged foods like potato chips, cookies, cakes, and bottled salad dressings.
Here’s a short list of foods which contain trans fats:
· Hardened Margarines and shortenings
· Bottled salad dressings
· Fried fast foods
· Corn chips
· French fries
· Fried meats like chicken and fish
· Baked goods including biscuits, breads, cakes, cookies and crackers
Understanding the “macronutrient triangle” can help you lose weight. It’s a key factor in quick and healthy weight loss. Understanding the triangle is your first step to balancing your hormones. And if you know how to balance your hormones you can restore youthful health and fitness