Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What Kind of Fats do You Need for Great Health?

Let's first ask a few questions:

Do we really need fats?

Fats are an energy source for the body along with proteins and carbohydrates. Fats are important in the protection of our organs, to aid the digestive process, and are particularly important for the function of the brain. Fats insulate the body from environmental conditions and preserve body heat which is why it is natural to eat more fats and proteins in times of cold weather. Some fats can actually provide energy and promote weight loss as the nutritional needs of the body are met.

What kind of fats do we need?

The best sources of fats are those that are naturally occurring in foods such as avocados and raw nuts. Many shun the avocado for its high fat content (a healthy source of fat), but are quick to snack on handfuls of corn chips (an unhealthy source of fat). The same is true with nuts. Many avoid eating nuts because of the fat content, however, the key is to eat them only raw.

What kinds of oils are good for the body?

We need monounsaturated fats which are best found in olive oil, and in most nuts. Monounsaturated fats help to lower the bad cholesterol in the body, but protect the good cholesterol from going down. These fats also help increase our resistance to cancer. Olive oil is one of the best oils to use, and is good for the body both inside and out.

We also need polyunsaturated fats which are our omega-3 and omega-6 oils. Omega-3 oils come from fatty fish such as salmon, trout and others, as well as from pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds, and are vital for brain and spinal functions. Deficiencies may cause Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, and hyperactivity. Omega-3 oil is also beneficial for high cholesterol levels, stroke and heart attack, high blood pressure, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, psoriasis and eczema. The omega-6 oils are found in corn, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils. Flaxseed oil is very unique, being a great source for both the omega-3 and omega-6.

The best is kind of oils are cold pressed, as opposed to heat extracted. The process of pressing the grain, seed, or legume to extract the oil is obviously more of an entailing process. Most oils are processed by with the use of heat. The cold pressed oils will obviously be more expensive, but are much more nourishing and beneficial to the body.

Lecithin is a great fat to use particularly in breads in place of oil, as well as a binder in salad dressings. Lecithin is derived from soybeans, and is found in liquid and granular forms, as well as in capsules. Because lecithin breaks down the cholesterol in the body, it is often recommended to be taken for weight loss. In baking, use ¼ the amount you would of oil (2 Tbs. lecithin in place of ½ C. oil). If you like to be precise in measuring, use the granulated form. If you don't like to measure, just pour the liquid to eyeball measure (never measure it).

What oils we do not need!

Fats and oils that we don't need are: cotton seed oil, shortenings, margarine, fried foods, and any heat extracted oils. Hydrogenated oils such as shortening and margarine are not good fats. In the hydrogenated process, hydrogen is used to break down the double bonds in the fat, thus making it into a solid state. The sequence of firmness in the hydrogenation process goes something like this: margarine, to shortening, to wax, to plastic. So if you eat margarine or shortening, it's just a few steps away from being wax or plastic. Imagine what it might be doing to you arteries! Most corn and potato chips, French fries, and other fried foods are usually fried in hydrogenated oils because the shelf life will be longer. Keep in mind also that even "organic chips" are usually fried! Look for "baked" organic chips for a better alternative, or better yet, choose rice cakes, whole grain crackers, or even better - vegetable sticks!

In conclusion....

There are fats that work with the body providing essential and nourishing properties, while there are many other fats that work against the body which are toxic and clogging agents. Focusing on the raw foods, raw nuts and oils is a first step, then omitting hydrogenated fats, processed foods, and fried foods, will eliminate most of the poor fats. You will be amazed how much better you feel and look!

For more information on fats in connection with wei*ght issues, listen to the Healthy Permanent Wei*ght Management 3-CDs. Get you set now at: http://livingahealthylifestyle.com/cds.htm .

For your best health,
Erleen Tilton

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