September 19, 2021 | Learning, Nutrition | 0 comments | Author: Ashley Dance
All fats are not the same! America has been swept up in a low-fat craze for the last few decades and not only is it not the answer, it is actually really unhealthy. Fatty acids insulate and protect our vital organs, act as messengers, along with proteins, and start the chemical reactions needed for growth, immune function, reproduction and metabolism. They transport vitamins A, D, E and K and store them in the liver and fatty tissues. They are essential for nearly every function the body has.
You may have heard the term triglycerides in relation to fat or maybe cholesterol in the blood. The name comes from three fatty acid molecules (tri) joining glycerol (a sugar alcohol). They can come in the form of long, medium, or short-chain triglycerides. Most fats we consume are long chain triglycerides. Enzymes must break down triglycerides so they can be used for energy. The exception comes in medium-chain triglycerides, which do not need pancreatic enzymes to be used for energy. They are broken down by the saliva and in gastric juices and are transported directly to the liver to be used immediately. Essentially they are metabolized like a carbohydrate, but they do not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. Therefore it is useful in helping diabetics control blood sugar but take in energy. This metabolism and ease of digestion is extremely important for those with digestive disorders, or for those injured or sick. Ease of digestion is key to health. If you make digestion easier, more energy is freed up for the body to do whatever else it needs to do, whether that is heal an injury or disease, or metabolize excess body fat.
You may find MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil in a supplement form as the body builder community has begun to pick up on its health and energy benefits. It’s hard to know where they might source that oil, though. However, one trusted source of MCT oil is coconut oil. One of these medium chain fatty acids is called lauric acid. It is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. Many people are scared of coconut oil because it contains so much saturated fat, but it won’t clog your arteries. There are multiple studies of Pacific Island populations, which consume 30-60% of their total calories from saturated fat coconut oil, and have extremely low rates of cardiovascular disease. This is the exact opposite of the case in America with our unsaturated vegetable and soybean oils and our absurdly high rate of cardiovascular disease. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil actually raise the good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad (LDL).
Another food that can help regulate cholesterol and is a great source of good fats is the avocado. Avocados contain mostly monounsaturated fats, which are a different form of fatty acids from the saturated fat in coconut oil. Specifically, avocados contain mostly oleic acid, which is known as an omega-9. The omega fats are helpful in reducing inflammation. The body cannot produce the omega fats on its own, so they are known as essential fatty acids (most Americans get too much omega-6 and not enough omega 3 and 9, in our opinion). Avocados are also a good source of folic acid, which is extremely important for pregnant women for the development of the fetus.
The polyunsaturated fats are what you should watch out for. Most foods contain a combination of these fatty acids, but oils that are highest in polyunsaturated acids are what are dangerous. The processing damages the already unstable polyunsaturated vegetable (including canola!) and soybean oils. The problem with them is that they are chemically unstable. They are susceptible to going rancid due to oxidation. When fats are unstable and go rancid, free radicals are formed. Free radicals do damage on a cellular level. They can cause inflammation that can lead to cancer and disease. Unfortunately the majority of fats in the American diet are made up of these damaging oils because they are so prevalent in processed and prepackaged foods. It’s easy to become frustrated when reading labels and discovering that everything contains soybean oil. You can make many of the same snacks you would buy, just with coconut oil. Avocados are great mayonnaise replacements. The saturated fat in coconut oil makes it stable at higher temperatures, making it the ideal choice for baking or cooking. If only we could convince restaurants to cook with coconut oil! Olive oil is another good source of the monounsaturated fats (like avocado) but it is not ideal at high temperatures, so save it for your salad dressings, or drizzled on at the end of cooking. Strive to eliminate vegetable and soybean oils from your diet and replace them with the fats that have so many more health benefits.