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In the last years fat has been vilified and accused of causing all kinds of chronic disease. Most notably, fat in the diet is blamed for the cause of cardiac problems and high cholesterol. Anyone with cardiac issues or diabetes are put on a low fat diet but ultimately it does not work. Now finally new studies are being done that are bringing to light what our great grandparents knew, that fat is good for us and we need to eat it everyday.
Some of the functions of fat:
- • provides the building blocks of cell membranes
• is required for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K
• is necessary in the natural process of inflammation
• provides the building blocks for hormones, including testosterone and estrogen
• is necessary for mental health
• is a protective lining for organs
• is necessary for healthy skin, hair, and nails
• improves the digestion and absorption of food
- satiates the body so we are more easily satisfied and do not need as much food. (source)
What we are finding is that what is most important about eating fat is the source from which it comes. For the most part the partially hydrogenated fats which come from plants are not a good choice for us in any way. This includes corn oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, and soybean oil. Some of the other common oils like olive oil, walnut oil, hazelnut oil, coconut oil are good choices to consume but not always to heat. Olive oil, avocado oil, and the nut oils are great if consumed unheated in salad dressings, over pasta, and over vegetables.
The best oils to heat are coconut oil, animals fats like tallow (beef) and lard (pork), palm oil, peanut oil, and butter. These are the oils we want to use in cooking or baking. Our personal favorite at my house is coconut oil, especially for my oldest daughter who is dairy free.
Heart Health and Cholesterol
What about heart health and cholesterol? Isn’t too much fat a problem for high cholesterol?
No it isn’t. What has come to light in the past few year is that the causes of heart disease are not eating healthy fats. Rather it is the consumption of the partially hydrogenated fats and the rise in intake of sugars and starches. Most of the studies on this topic were done in the 1950’s and at that point coronary artery disease was the leading cause of death in America. Some of the changes that had come about that may have led to this included packaged food, preservatives added to food, and the use of the gas stove and refrigerator in the home. 1 One of the most popular studies on heart disease and diet, The Framingham Study, found that
… there was no discernible association between reported diet intake and serum cholesterol level in the Framingham Diet Study Group… As to coronary heart disease, it was prospectively (supposed to be) related to diet. No relationship was found. 2
My husband is on a high fat, low carb diet to combat prediabetes. What is very interesting is that he had a lipid profile done recently after about 6 months on this diet and his cholesterol and triglycerides are the lowest I have seen with him in years. The high fat diet has obviously agreed with the fats in his body. I was not surprised because triglycerides tend to be high when there is too much sugar and processed foods in the diet. All those have been cut from him for months now.
Have you fallen into the trap of the low-fat diet? If so, I encourage you to reconsider your approach to fats and begin to work to increase the good fats in your diet, replacing the sugars that are turning out to be the real culprits in health damage.
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