For years, people have strongly believed that consuming fat causes obesity, and damages the heart. Due to a campaign from candy makers back in the 1960s, saturated fat was promoted as the culprit, not sugar, and this caused people to keep to high-sugar, low-fat diets, thinking it was the smarter choice. But in reality it made people put on pounds.
Recent studies have proven these claims are false. The truth is, fat is needed to help you stay fit and productivel. Fat feeds your mind, keeps your body full, and balances your hormones, among other benefits - but not all fats are the same.
Let's find out more about the science behind fats.
WHAT IS FAT
The majority of the fats you eat are composed of triglycerides-- molecules formed of glycerol and fatty acids. There are many forms of body fats, and they work differently. It all depends on the chemical makeup.
Fat molecules have large bodies and lean tails, and the tail's size relates to how the body fat is processed.
Fat stability (how well it spoils and develops free radicals in your system) additionally defines what good and bad fat is.
Types of dietary fats include saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and trans fats. We'll cover each of these fats below and explain which is best for you.
THE BENEFITS OF FAT
Monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fats are good for your mind and body. Let's look at the benefits of good fats.
THEY BOOST YOUR BRAIN
The brain is 60% fat – fattier than any other part of the body. It needs really healthy fats to be able to work at its best. Essential fatty acids—the excess fats you only get from foods—are responsible for our brain’s growth and development.
THEY KEEP YOUR WEIGHT DOWN
Low-carb diets help you slim down a lot faster. When you consume fat without a lot of carbs, you instruct your body to burn fat for energy rather than sugar (aka sweets). This process is referred to as ketosis, and it can help you drop considerable weight quickly.
Fat brings another metabolic advantage: it blocks the release of the hormone insulin - the hormone that manages your fat storage. The more insulin you have, the more fat you store.
THEY CREATE CELL MEMBRANES AND MAKES HORMONES
Excess fats keep cells healthy. Fat is a part of a cell's protective outer covering, consisting of two layers: the lipid bilayer, in particular, works as a gatekeeper to what enters or leaves a cell.
Body fat also builds the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. When you are low on fat, your hormones are off. Women who drop too much weight may stop having periods because fat produces the estrogen needed to maintain fertility. And fat also releases leptin that prevents overeating by telling your brain you're full.
THEY ARE A HAPPY DRUG
When you feel full and have better sugar regulation, you won't suffer from being "hangry." Fat can influence your mood. In one experiment, mice who ate a diet high in fat were less depressed after only two days, and the effects lasted for eight weeks. A second experiment showed that eating fish high in fatty acids also decreases depression.
YOU FEEL FULL LONGER
Excess fat is very filling. If you eat it, you won't eat as frequently or as much. By stabilizing your blood sugar, fat helps you get through the day without constant cravings. When eating a slice of bread, you will feel more hungry during the day and may switch to something sugary to satisfy any immediate cravings. But food rich in fat like salmon and veggies and even butter make you feel more satisfied, keeping your hunger at bay until dinner.
THEY BOOST NUTRIENT ABSORPTION
Vitamins like A, E, D, and K, are fat-soluble and require fat when being absorbed into your body. Good fats help the vitamins travel through our blood and into our liver and our stored body fat, for the time when we need them later.
HELPFUL FOR YOUR HEART
For many years, the high-carb, low-fat diet was considered good for pulmonary health, but people still put on the pounds and heart disease was still on the rise. Lots of carbs without fat raises blood sugar, leading to coronary artery disease. Omega-3s can prevent heart complications.
Some healthy fats to keep in mind are:
- Grass-fed meat
- High-quality dark chocolate
- MCT oil and coconut oil
- Grass-fed butter
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Pastured egg yolk
WHAT ABOUT SATURATED FATS?
Fats suffered bad press back in the 1960s when Ancel Keys claimed it gave rise to heart issue. You're most likely accustomed to the idea that butter, red meat, and egg yolks increase cholesterol, which can block the arteries, and obstruct blood flow to the heart. Research later showed that Keys manipulated the analysis to demonize fat. Later studies revealed that saturated fat doesn't elevate cholesterol. Saturated fat is still trying to clear its reputation as an artery-clogger.
The truth is, saturated fat is incredibly stable, and the chances of it being oxidized are low. Oxidized fats make your body grow older faster, create swelling, and make weak cell membrane layers. All this ups your chance of heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
Grass-fed butter is one of the best sources of saturated fat. It's packed with antioxidants, fat-soluble vitamins, and fatty acids like conjugated linoleic acid and butyrate that burns away fat while improving your gut microbiome and brain health.
Monounsaturated fat is next in line with saturated fat. If you look at monounsaturated fats' structure, there is only one binding site open where a free radical can oxidize the fat. Monounsaturated fats turn into a fluid in lukewarm temperatures, while saturated fats stay solid. Eating both are important.
The more prevalent monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, which increases your lifespan and guards your heart.
Foods that are high in monounsaturated fat are:
- Organic pork
Polyunsaturated fats aren't stable and oxidized easily, which causes inflammation. And they have multiple binding sites, making them susceptible to damage.
Consuming too much leads to poorer health. They are found in oils like canola, corn, cottonseed, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Lower-quality oils are also genetically-modified and use toxic solvents.
We would be oversimplifying things by saying all oils are a problem. The deciding factors are what you eat and how much. Two important types of fats are polyunsaturated. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are unstable, but they're critical to your survival. Your body can't make these excess fats by itself-- you need to receive them through the foods you eat. And not all omegas work the same: Omega-6s are inflammatory, while omega-3s are not.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3 fats are in salmon, sardines, anchovies, grass-fed beef, leafy greens, and egg yolks just to name a few. Seed sources include flaxseeds and chia seeds, but plants, in general, aren't a good source.
These omegas come in three types:
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are long-chain fats that come from animals. Fish oil has both EPA and DHA and they benefit each other. And both are required by women who breastfeed to develop healthy brains in babies.
ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is a short-chain omega 3 from plants that animals can't use. Since animals can't use it, their bodies convert it to DHA. To get the best source of omega 3's, get it from animals.
These omegas come from the oils listed above, as well as in poultry, nuts, and seeds. Just a small amount strengthens your brain, helps with muscle development, and keeps blood sugar levels flat. At the same time, too much can cause inflammation. Linolenic acid is the most well-known form of Omega-6s, which the body converts into arachidonic acid that are inflammatory.
THE PERFECT BALANCE
Without the right balance of both omegas, they begin to compete. To hit the right balance, Americans need to keep an eye on reducing omega-6s and eating more omega-3s. Shoot for a ratio of 1:1, but you may need to adjust that with even more omega-3's. Many Americans are eating at a ratio of 12 omega 6s to :1 omega 3, and some are even higher, all due to the Western diet.
Other popular foods like poultry, nuts, and seeds, are high in omega-6, so plan your diet carefully.
It's challenging understanding whether you have the right balance. One way to start is to focus on changing meals high in omega-6s, steadily replacing them with more omega-3 foods.
Trans fats are industrially-produced oils used in extremely refined food items like packaged baked products, stick margarine, and many fried foods. When hydrogen gas is added to vegetable oil to make it solid, these artificial trans fats are formed. They're cheap to produce and also prolong the freshness of items, but not in a good way.
These are by far the worst type of fats for your health. They cause inflammation and increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Trans fat can even affect your brain and lead to depression and memory loss.
Research from the World Health Organization found out that over half a million folks pass away each year thanks to cardiovascular disease connected to trans fat. The organization hopes to ban trans fats in all foods.
Some trans fats are natural, such as in milk and beef, which are not harmful and can actually benefit your heart. In a 2015 study, individuals with higher degrees of natural trans body fats were less likely to die of cardiac arrest by as much as 37%.
WHAT YOU NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR
You learned that the majority of excess fat is composed of glycerol and fatty acids. These fatty acids are easily damaged by light, heat, and oxygen. When consuming fat, you want to make sure you pick one that's stable, which means it's less likely to spoil.
Saturated fat is the most secure. Monounsaturated excess fats and polyunsaturated fats come next.
Because high heat can easily ruin body fats, it's a good idea to cook all your food under 320 degrees Fahrenheit.Are you eating the right types of fat? If not, today is a good way to start. Eat healthy and make sure you get a balanced quantity and quality of nutrients for your body. NutraV supplements formulated with natural clean ingredients provide all-around health benefits to supplement your efforts for a better diet. Shop NutraV today.