The Essentials–Essential Fats

Americans seem confused when it comes to eating fat.  Many people seem to think that if you eat fat, you will get fat.  Eating the right kinds of fat in the right amounts can actually help you lose weight, as well as improve your overall health.  You may have to open your mind and let some new information in to replace what you’ve been programmed to believe, thanks to the media and ever-changing science and medical research.  Bad fats kill, good fats heal!

Our brains and nerves require the proper kinds of fats to be healthy.  Memory and cognitive function are impaired when good fats are deficient. Low-fat diets have been shown to lower the intelligence of children.  Good fats improve immune function by helping to control chronic inflammation, an underlying factor that contributes to hardening of the arteries, arthritis, age-related memory loss, nervous system disorders, and other degenerative diseases.  Essential fats are also necessary for the production of many hormones and can help make cells more sensitive to insulin.

Replace bad fats with good fats.  Bad fats include margarine, shortening, processed vegetable oils, and animal fat from animals that are raised without the benefit of their natural grass-fed diets.  Grass contains good fats, which help protect from disease, making them less likely to require antibiotics.  These good fats, as well as any hormones or antibiotics they received, are passed to us when we eat their meat.  Bad fats are found in just about all packaged foods.  Read the labels and avoid like the plague the ingredients “hydrogenated”, “partially hydrogenated”, and “margarine”.  Most oils have been heated to a trans-fat state, which can damage our health.  Corn and soy are mostly genetically modified (science altering nature), so only buy organic.  Instead, look for coconut and palm oils, because they can be heated to higher temperatures without becoming toxic.  Extra-virgin olive oil is a wonderful heart-healthy oil, but is best added after cooking or heated at low temperatures for short cooking times to avoid altering its health benefits.

Fat protects our bodies by storing an overload of toxins.  If we are unable to eliminate these toxins, fat cells keep them from doing damage to vital organs.  The more toxic fat we consume, the more is stored.  As we feed our bodies healthy fats, they can begin to replace the bad fats.  The more we reduce toxicity in our diets and other areas of exposure, the more excess body fat can be released!

We tend to be deficient in the essential omega-3 fatty acids which are vital for good health.  Eating an abundance of omega-6 fats found in animal products from grain-fed animals and farm-raised fish, leads to a dangerous imbalance of omega-3’s.  These good fats are found in the yolks of eggs (are you eating just the egg whites?), which are also a source of vitamin D and lecithin (helps keep fats mobile in the bloodstream).  Other good sources are deep ocean fish (wild-caught), grass-fed beef, avocados, nuts, seeds, green vegetables, and beans.  Flax, hemp, and chia seeds all contain high amounts of the omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Keep them in your refrigerator and sprinkle them in oatmeal, on salads, stir into soups, top waffles and pancakes, add to smoothies, etc.  Hemp seeds are easily eaten straight from the bag, but flax seed will need to ground first.  Stir a little flax oil into pure maple syrup or honey.

Make better butter:  Whip one stick of unsalted organic butter with 1/2 cup flax seed oil.  Add a little unrefined sea salt to taste.  If you want to sweeten it, stir in a little raw honey.  Store in a small glass container in the refrigerator.  It will spread easily.  You may also use extra-virgin olive oil in place of part of the flax oil or use coconut oil instead of butter.  If you choose butter from grass-fed cows, you will receive the benefit of its heart-healthy vitamin A.

Recommended supplement to correct a deficiency and/or to maintain a healthy balance of essential fatty acids in your diet:  Nature’s Sunshine Flax Seed Oil is a vegetarian source of omega-3’s that has been shown to help lower cholesterol, and its lignans are linked to lowering the incidence of breast and colon cancer.  Dry skin may be a sign of omega-3 deficiency.  If you have trouble digesting fats, take an enzyme containing lipase (Nature’s Sunshine Hi-Lipase) with your supplement.  Do not heat the oil, and keep it refrigerated.  Softgels can also be taken daily.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, www.learningtobehealthy.com

 

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