Your average food intake should consist of approximately 30 percent fat, which is more or less equal to 15-60 grams in a 24-hour period.
What do we need fats for?
Many people wrongly decrease the amount of fat in their diet to a minimum as they believe that this will get rid of the fat on their body. It sounds logical: you want to get rid of fat, so stop eating it. It doesn’t exactly work like this though. Like with other nutrients, fats are essential for our body since they fulfil many different functions.
All cell membranes in our body contain fatty acids. The lipid (or fatty) layer of cell membranes provides cells with stability.
Fat forms cholesterol, which serves as a basis for the formation of gastric acids, vitamin D and various hormones. An insufficient composition of fats in our diet can lead to a breakdown in the functioning of the adrenal and reproductive glands.
A large quantity of fat is found in the brain tissue.
Fats supply the body with energy: the processing of 1 gram of fat results in the burning of 9 kilocalories.Fats are a source of irreplaceable fatty acids and vitamins A, D, E and K.
Fats help regulate body temperature, functioning as a kind of insulation.
Blood serum contains lipoproteins (fats) in high density. They help fight off excess cholesterol.Fats defend internal organs against damage. So, for instance, the renal bed is a fatty pillow which prevents the kidney from being excessively mobile.
An aesthetic function: it’s actually fatty deposits that give our bodies a nice shape. If there was no fat, then a person would look like a skeleton held together by skin.
The conclusion is clear: fats SHOULD NOT be excluded from your diet! But don’t run and stock your kitchen up with pork chops and cakes. Not all fats are the same. More often than not, specialists talk about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats. Let’s take a look at what this means.
The Good Fats
For a long time, we have been tricked into thinking that saturated fats are bad for us and that mono and polyunsaturated fats are good and heart healthy. They have told us that saturated fats cause high cholesterol levels and ultimately heart disease. Industry wanted us to believe this in order for them to sell more un-natural industrial, genetically modified oils like corn and soy. They told us that these oils decreased the risk of heart disease when in fact the opposite is true.
In 2010, a meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. In layman’s terms, saturated fat is not bad for us! You can think of it this way, the more natural a food is, the better it is for human consumption. So, if you have a choice between margarine which is processed or grass-fed butter, which is not, opt for the latter.
Healthy Sources of Saturated Fats to Add to Your Diet
“Saturated fat is not the root of all evil … and it is NOT to blame for the modern disease epidemics facing Americans. Saturated fat is actually an incredibly healthy, nourishing and all natural fat that humans have been thriving on for generations. Again, as Fallon and Enig point out:
Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50 percent of your cell membranes. They are what gives your cells necessary stiffness and integrity.They play a vital role in the health of your bones. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into your skeletal structure, at least 50 percent of your dietary fats should be saturated.They lower Lp(a), a substance in your blood that indicates proneness to heart disease.They protect your liver from alcohol and other toxins, such as Tylenol and other drugs.They enhance your immune system.They are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids. Elongated omega-3 fats are better retained in your tissues when your diet is rich in saturated fats.
Saturated 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for your heart, which is why the fat around your heart muscle is highly saturated. Your heart draws on this reserve of fat in times of stress.Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. They protect you against harmful microorganisms in your digestive tract.
So please do not shun saturated fats from your diet. Make sure your meals include some of these delicious and healthy sources of saturated fat:
Grass-fed organic beef and beef fat
Naturally raised lamb
Organic raw dairy products (butter, cheese, milk, cream)
Monounsatured fats, specifically from olive oil, have also been shown by research to have positive cardiovascular benefits. Olive oil not only provides antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene, but also contains a polyphenol called hydroxytyrosol (HT). HT actually works at a genetic level to help the cellular walls of the blood vessels remain strong. In addition to this, olive oil’s oleic acid content has been shown to play a role in the decrease of blood pressure.
The Bad Fats
Trans fats are classified as “bad” fats. They are formed during the processing (hydrogenation) of plant oils. During the process of hydrogenation, hydrogen is absorbed by thoroughly heating oil (corn-based, sunflower-based, palm-based). As a result, the intramolecular bonds between hydrogen atoms in fatty acids are changed. They transform into trans-forms. These altered molecules cannot be used by our body and cause more inflammation thus increasing cholesterol levels. Trans-fats are found in cakes, pies, ice cream, chocolate, cheap cheeses, crackers, baked goods, snacks, in fried foods (fried seeds and nuts, popcorn and chips, and so forth) and also in other foods made by using partially hydrogenated plant oils. On a food label, they are often found under the words ‘partially hydrogenated oils or fats’.
Just like saturated fats, we have been lied to about polyunsaturated fats as well. They have been touted for their heart healthy effects. Research, however, paints another picture. They are the most detrimental to our health because of their high susceptibility to oxidative damage. These include foods like sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, flax oil, sesame seed oil, pumpkin seed oil and canola (or rapeseed) oil.
“When large amounts of PUFAs are consumed, they are stored and between meals, they are released. In free form, they poison the mitochondria (where oxidative metabolism occurs), impair communication within the cell, impair the action of enzymes that dissolve blood clots and digest dietary protein, and inhibit the thyroid. Inhibiting the thyroid slows the metabolism and diminishes the ability to metabolize the PUFAs, accelerating their toxic effects. Stress, low blood sugar, and high intensity exercise increase the lipolytic enzymes. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) restrains them.”
In general, it is important to choose the right kind of fat and to be aware of the fact that marketing has done an excellent job of making us sicker and more overweight. Avoid polyunsaturated and trans fats and feel free to include more saturated fat and olive oil to your diet. They will not only help you to lose weight, but will enhance your health dramatically.
In general, 25-30% of the diet should come from fat. Check your SuperBody app to see how much you need.