“FAT is NOT the enemy. Fat is your well-intentioned friend, who sometimes goes astray.”
You may not be “fat” in the traditional sense but we all need fat to survive. Our brains are made up of mostly fats, including saturated fat, which make up the cell membranes that protect the integrity of our cells. That’s right. About two-thirds of the brain is made up of fat. But, that doesn’t mean that the brain can use any fat thus, you do not need to eat every kind of fat.
“Fat is essential to our survival but not all fats are essential to our survival.”
Essential fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids made from linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acids. The two essential forms are Omega 6 (Linoleic Acid) and Omega 3 (Alpha-linolenic) fatty acids.
The body can not produce Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids on its own. You must eat them.
For optimal brain function, an adult needs 1.4 to 4.6 grams of Omega 3 and 8 to 14 grams of Omega 6 per day (Most Americans get more than enough Omega 6 every day, it is the Omega 3 that is usually lacking).
Food sources of omega-3 ALA include: flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, sea vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and cold water fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout.
Food sources of omega-6 LA include: meats, sunflower, safflower, corn, and sesame oils.
Fats and oils also play crucial roles in stabilizing blood sugar levels, providing raw materials for making hormones and contributing to a healthy immune system.
“Good” fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—lower disease risk.
“Bad” fats: saturated and, especially, trans fats—increase disease risk.
Foods high in bad fats include red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream, as well as processed foods made with trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil. Some saturated fat in your diet is healthy but trans fat is not recommended in any amount.
Trans Fats: Yuck!
Trans fatty acids are chemically altered, man-made fats found in partially hydrogenated oils. Small amounts of trans fats do occur naturally in some dairy and meat products.
“The American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat to no more than 1 percent of your total daily calories. For most people, this is less than 2 grams a day.”
You would be exceeding the American Heart Association’s recommendations by ordering a small order of Burger King french fries as they have 3 grams of trans fat. A 2002 report by the Institute of Medicine (a branch of the National Academy of Sciences) concluded that trans fats are not safe to consume in any amount.
So what should you remember about fat?
- A moderate amount of fat is essential to our survival.
- Eat fats from a variety of healthy sources.
- Avoid ALL trans fats, if possible.