Dietary Fat...
Some are Even Essential!

Would you believe:
Some dietary fat is Essential?
Just make it the RIGHT fats.

Let's look at the dietary fat lineup.  There are two bad-fat guys and two good-fat guys in the lineup.  The bad-fat guys are trans fats and saturated fats...but you already knew that since they've been in the news big time for several years now.  They are definitely not "essential nutrients".

Let's look at the dietary fat lineup.  There are two bad-fat guys and two good-fat guys in the lineup.  The bad-fat guys are trans fats and saturated fats...but you already knew that since they've been in the news big time for several years now.  They are definitely not "essential nutrients".

Trans Fat

Food companies have been required to list trans fats on food labels since 2006.  Trans fat is bad because it increases our bad cholesterol, low density lipoproteins (LDL), and reduces our good cholesterol, high density lipoproteins (HDL).

Both conditions increase our risk for heart disease.   Trans fats aren't natural; they are created in the food production process when liquid oils are converted to solid fat in a process called hydrogenation.</p> 

<p>The food companies thought this was a swell idea since it let them keep their foods on the grocery shelves longer without spoiling.  The doctors liked it too since it kept a steady stream of heart patients coming to their waiting rooms. 

The pharmaceutical companies loved it since they were able to sell tons of cholesterol lowering drugs.  Who needs an essential nutrient when there's always a drug to mask the symptoms of a dietary fat problem?

blood sugar and insulin spike in preparation deep fried insulin spike

For our own protection, it is strongly recommended that we keep our consumption of trans fats as low as possible,avoiding them entirely if we can.  The bad news is that trans fats usually show up as dietary fat in all the essential stuff like cookies, doughnuts and pies from the supermarket and deep fried junk from the restaurants.

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Before Leaving Trans Fats...
Consider a few points on cholesterol.

Not an Essential Nutrient,
but Definitely an Essential Dietary Fat!

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that's found in animal-based foods such as meats, poultry, egg yolks, and whole milk, same sources as the saturated fats.  What's cool here is that if we follow the advice about reducing saturated fats, we are automatically reducing cholesterol intake. 

So by switching to low-fat milk and dairy products, we are killing two dietary fat birds with one stone, saturated fats and cholesterol.

Here is the real revelation about cholesterol.  While we have been referring to it as a fatty substance, in actuality, cholesterol is an alcohol in the group of sterols.  Note that it  ends in the usual alcohol suffix "ol" as in ethyanol or methanol.  LDL and HDL are the fats and both are carriers of cholesterol. 

LDL has picked up the tag as bad cholesterol since in carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells and HDL is called good cholesterol since it brings unprocessed cholesterol from the cells back to the liver.  Having gotten that out of the way, we will keep using the conventional terminology of a "fatty substance" for cholesterol.

Now comes the warning about cutting out cholesterol completely.  The facts are that we do need cholesterol to function properly.  The idea is to keep the HDL cholesterol and minimize the LDL cholesterol.  We can do that by eating healthy dietary fats from olive oil, fish and walnuts.

Another revelation from Dr. Andre A. Kulisz in one of his presentations on cholesterol, reports that nursing home residents who have the most heart attacks, strokes, transient ischemic attacks, and chronic inflammatory conditions have low cholesterol, usually artificially depressed by the overuse of statin drugs.  Experience shows that the more depressed the cholesterol levels, the poorer the health. 

We will get into the healthy fats shortly.  We can also raise HDL levels through exercise, taking niacin and even having a little alcohol each night. In fact, we should try these before jumping to the statins.

Why do we want high HDL levels, at least over 40 mg/dl (but not
over 60)?  HDL carries away the bad cholesterol but nevertheless, we do need some LDL cholesterol to repair damage to the walls of our arteries; just not too much, always less than 100 mg/dl.

The real scoop on cholesterol is that, even though it is a fatty substance, cholesterol makes up very little of our dietary fat intake. 

It would be hard to raise our level of blood cholesterol by eating high cholesterol foods since over 80% of our cholesterol is produced by the liver from dietary animal fat and it produces only as much as the body needs.  Less than 20% of cholesterol is absorbed in the GI tract during the digestive process.

We make cholesterol because it is an essential component of every cell, for example, the integrity of the cell membrane depends on it.

Cholesterol is also a building block for most steroid hormones in our body; like testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, progesterone and others.  So let's dispel the myth that eggs are bad for you.  Wrong, they are good for you.

the cell membrane needs cholesterol

The yellow stuff in the cell membrane is cholesterol.
It's supposed to be there.

Mark Hyman, M.D. and Mark Liponis, M.D. in their book Ultra-Prevention, report on a study carried in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), April 21, 1999 issue, on the correlation between egg consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The 6-Week Plan That Will Make You Healthy for Life

A study of 117,000 people showed that those who ate more than six eggs per week had the lowest risk of heart attacks and the group eating one egg per week or less had the highest rate of heart attacks. 

The conclusion appears to be that eating eggs helps guard against heart attacks.  Who would have guessed? 

I am soooo relieved since I've been eating about 14 eggs a week for years.  If eggs were bad for you I should have died a long time ago but guess what, my cholesterol levels are perfect.  I think I'll declare eggs, an essential nutrient.

Here's the but...for health reasons and concern for animal welfare, do your utmost best to buy organic eggs from free range, pastured chickens, not the factory farmed variety sold in the supermarket cases.  "Cage free" and "grain fed" are just marketing words, forget about it. 

It's worth paying a little more for the real pastured eggs. Remember the big egg recall?  Find a farmers market and you will likely find good eggs.  So, moving on to saturated fat...

Saturated Fat

The other dietary fat bad guy in the lineup is Saturated fat.  It's that white stuff floating on the top of that can of beef stew you just opened and the white stuff on the gravy from your leftover Sunday pot roast. 

If you find yourself getting a little confused by all of this, check out the book shown to the left by Udo Erasmus;  if you read our page on probiotics you have already been introduced to him.

In general, it's the solid dietary fat in our diet and comes from highly marbled cuts of beef, high-fat cheese, whole milk and real cream, butter, ice cream and some oils, like palm and coconut oils.

The oils show up a lot in commercially prepared pastries such as cookies, cakes, pies and are also in shortenings used for baking.  So chances are, we take in a lot stealthy saturated's in the food, we just don't see it.

Excessive consumption of saturated fats have been linked to coronary heart disease as well as several other chronic conditions.  Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Dr. Michael Roizen, M.D. in their book, YOU, The Owners Manual, say that we should keep our input of saturated and trans fats to 20 grams or less per day.  So why didn't they say zero grams?

The fact is that we need it, just not in excessive amounts.  According to another medical practitioner, Dr. Mercola, "saturated fats provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances, without which your body cannot function optimally.

They also act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.

In fact, saturated is the preferred fuel for your heart!"
Now let’s take a look at the good guys in our fat line up.

The Essential Fatty Acids...
Super Essential Nutrients!

Essential fatty acids (EFAs), alias, "Unsaturated Fats", come in two "flavors"; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Had any vitamin F lately?

Let’s hope so.  Essential fatty acids were originally called vitamin F when they were first discovered in 1923 but subsequent research indicated that they were more properly classified as dietary fat instead of vitamins.

Most of the fat that we eat should come from essential fatty acids.  They are found in abundance in nuts, cold

salmon steaks, omega 3 from the sea

water fish, especially salmon, herring, sardines and trout, vegetable oils (specifically olive, sunflower, soybean, canola).

Polyunsaturated fats are the omega-3s and omega-6s that are getting a lot of attention lately.  Both are essential nutrients and ideally should be present in a one-to-one ratio. 

In our modern diets we get much more omega 6 than omega 3 which has strong implications for inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

The pathology of how this mechanism works is covered in the pages linked to Epidemiology.

EFA's have tremendous influence on many aspects of health but especially cardiovascular, immune function, diabetes, inflammation and autoimmune related diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and about sixty more.

Supplementation of omega-3 isn't something just nice to do; it's mandatory!  Look for a brand that says "pharmaceutical grade" on the label and is made by the molecular distillation process. 

This insures that any mercury and other heavy metals from the cold water fish are removed.  The one I use is from Nordic Naturals and, so far, it's the best I've found on the market.

In closing, has an excellent guide to Choosing Healthy Fats. We include the link here as supplemental information for those who may want to explore the subject further.

Having had our fill of dietary fat, next is a look at the Phytonutrients; one of nature's greatest gifts.

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