People have an obsession with fat. They are bombarded with things that will make them fat, low-fat, how not to get fat, fatty acids, fat loss, gain fat, and that's phat. But what is fat and what is it's function? Why is fat important?
Whatever we eat--good or bad-- is a protein, carbohydrate, or a fat. These macronutrients are essential for health, and our diets need to include a healthy balance of all 3.
Protein is required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's cells, tissues, and organs and is constantly being broken down and replaced in our bodies. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies.
Carbohydrates are the starches, sugars and fibers produced by plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains. When carbohydrates are eaten, the digestive tract breaks down the long chains of starches into single sugars, mainly glucose, which becomes an immediate source of energy. If these calories are not expended, however, the body converts them to fat--which is one of the main reasons why our country is so overweight.
Fats meanwhile are a concentrated source of energy and building material for cell membranes and various hormones. Healthy fats help maintain the heart, play a vital role in the health of our bones, support the immune system, support normal liver function, and support balanced digestive flora. Because fat cleanses, fuels, lubricates, and protects the body, it is needed more than any other single nutrient. Fat is a necessary catalyst for utilizing minerals and protein. Fats add wonderful taste to food and give us that full feeling of satisfaction when we leave the dinner table. Without fats in our foods, most of us would find ourselves raiding the refrigerator for a midnight snack.
The problem with the standard American diet (SAD diet) is that we eat too many of the wrong foods containing the wrong fats and not enough of the right foods with the right fats. "Wrong fats" are hydrogenated oils containing trans fats, which increases LDL cholesterol (the "less healthy" blood fat). As for the "right fats," I'm referring to foods loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated (omega-9) fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and my favorite of all fats--healthy saturated fats containing short-and medium-chain fatty acids, which are found in things like coconut. These good fats are found in a wide range of foods, including salmon, lamb, and goat meat; in dairy products derived from goat's milk, sheep's milk, and cow's milk from grass-fed animals; and in flaxseeds, walnuts, olives, macadamia nuts, and avocados.
So get out there and find some fats to eat. Eating the right types of fats will not only improve regulatory functions in your body, but will help many of us stop those binges that are so destructive to healthy lifestyles.
Bonus: As someone who believes full fat-foods should work hand in hand with your quest to better health, the hardest part is actually knowing what to make. I know what it's like to want to free up more time that is normally spent wondering what to make for dinner. (Click here for my recipe time saver).
Who Am I?
I am just someone who likes to talk about health, is obsessively passionate about gut health and digestion, and is on a personal mission to ferment just about anything. This blog is a continuous flow of those thoughts.