For decades Americans have fed into the low-fat trend, but is it the fat making us fatter (since obese rates only continue to rise). Low-fat or no-fat labels can be seen anywhere, but what’s in the food if there’s no fat (often times fat-free foods are loaded with sugars). Fat-free ice cream, come on! Really? Studies by Cornwell show that this low-fat trend also leads to overindulgence. When eating low-fat snacks, consumers ate 28% than they usually would (same as ordering fast food with a diet pop). Part of the benefit of fats is they provide satiety. Before we get into all the benefits lets look chemically at fats.
Fats are compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen of different lengths and orders. Monounsaturated fats contain only one double bond. Oils like olive, flaxseed and sesame seed are monounsaturated, but they contain varying percentages. For instance olive oil is 75% monounsaturated, whereas canola is 60%. Polyunsaturated fats contain more than one double bond, you can identify them because they’re liquid and go rancid easily. Includes:
- fish oils.
Next let’s look at the essential fatty acids; of course we’re talking about Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. What’s important is ration, which should ideally be 1:1, since Omega-6 excess can cause inflammation. There are two long-chain omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosanexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is a vital fat for the brain, whereas EPA is a key fat for health. Over half the brains weight is fat (mostly DHA) which is important for information transfer, vision reception and mitochondria production of energy (ATP).
Now for all the wonderful benefits of fats. First off, it can be used as an energy source. When you don’t consume foods that spike your insulin levels, then your body has to use fat storages to provide a more constant energy level throughout the day (which is great for weight loss). Also it provides satiety. Monounsaturated fats slow how fast carbohydrates enter the bloodstream and release cholecystokenin (CCK), which tells your brain to stop eating. A Harvard study showed that a high-fat diet vs. a high carb diet had better metabolic responses and fat loss (because using fat as an energy source actually uses your excess fat storage).
How about fish oil? There are no reasons not to take pharmaceutical (purest and reduced crude oil) fish oil. It increases dopamine and serotonin levels. What’s so great about these neurotransmitters? Dopamine enhances concentration, organization and spurs you to action. Serotonin is your feel-good sense and stress suppressor. So in turn benefits of fish oil are increased creativity and calmness, better handle on stress, better memory, and greater concentration. Not enough? Omega-3’s also reduce risks of blood clots, high blood pressure, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, depression, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD.
So I can eat whatever fat I want? Wrong! Avoid all hydrogenated fats. This includes trans-fats and interesterified fats. They reposition hydrogen and create chains your body cannot recognize, which in turn can lead to inflammation.
In the end it’s simple eat good fats in place of grains and starches. They have little impact on insulin and are an excellent energy source. Wouldn’t you rather eat satisfying-flavorful dishes, that will actually lead to effortless weight loss. How could you resist all those other benefits of eating fats (better concentration and creativity, lowered risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and cognitive disorders). Need I say more, fat doesn’t make you fat, the three poisons do (grains, starches, and sugars).