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Fats: Good, Bad, Ugly

Several months ago a scandal involving the sugar industry was uncovered and splashed across major news sources.  In the 1950s, it became evident that sugar causes heart disease.  Trying to avoid the damning effects on sugar sales, the industry bribed Harvard researchers to downplay this evidence and instead place the blame on saturated fat.  

Enter the age of low-fat, non-fat, 2%, skim, fat will make you fat, fat will raise your cholesterol, fat will solidify in your arteries, and fat will kill you stay away from it for god’s sake!

Instead of saving us all from impending doom, avoiding fat has in fact made us all more sick.

We have replaced fat with processed oils and processed carbohydrates and sugars.  And as a result, obesity rates are soaring out of control, type 2 diabetes is on the rise – even in children – and heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the country.

Many of us in the world of health caught onto the fat farce years ago.  When you understand biochemistry and the role that fat plays in the body, you know that humans require fat from their diet.

Dietary fat, in real food form, comes from high quality meats, coconut oil, dairy, avocados, olives, and nuts and seeds.  Wild game and 100% grass fed beef and lamb, pasture-raised pork, chicken (including the dark meat and skin) and eggs (including the yolk), and wild seafood are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including omega 3 fats and CLA, all of which have anti-inflammatory effects and may be protective against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.  That’s right, folks, I said that fatty red meat, egg yolks, and chicken skin is actually good for you.

Every cell membrane is made up of fat, so providing your body with healthy fats ensures the proper functioning of your cell membranes.  The brain is 60% fat; composed primarily of DHA, a fat that is found in the real food sources of fat. Adequate fat intake enhances mental and cognitive function and is beneficial in treating and preventing mood and mental disorders.  According to a review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on all of the research on saturated fats, there is no correlation between dietary saturated fat and heart disease.

Sugar and processed oils, on the other hand, are inflammatory and lead to the destruction of cells, vessels, and nerves. While they are low in saturated fats, these oils are actually quite unstable and become easily oxidized.  This process leads to cellular damage, which actually increases inflammation and contributes to heart disease and cancer.

Processed oils like margarine, canola oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, and shortening are ubiquitous in processed and packaged foods and for use in restaurants.

Fat is an essential nutrient.  All fat is not created equal.  Instead of avoiding it altogether, give your body the nutrition it requires by eating good, healthy sources of fat.  Avoid the industrial oils and you will notice that you feel better, look better, and think better.  Fat is not evil, only some fats will make you sick.  Learn to differentiate between good and evil and you will win every time.

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