Fats…the Real Story and Why You Need them!

So what’s the real deal with fats?

Are they good? Are they bad? Are we being fed even the right information by the mass media? Does our doctor even know what is the truth? Let’s find out for ourselves:

Fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.

Politically Correct Nutrition is based on the assumption that we should reduce our intake of fats, particularly saturated fats from animal sources. Fats from animal sources also contain cholesterol, presented as the twin villain of the civilized diet.

Most people would be surprised to learn that there is, in fact, very little evidence to support the contention that a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat actually reduces death from heart disease or in any way increases one’s life span.

The relative good health of the Japanese, who have the longest life span of any nation in the world, is generally attributed to a lowfat diet. Although the Japanese eat few dairy fats, the notion that their diet is low in fat is a myth; rather, it contains moderate amounts of animal fats from eggs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood and organ meats. With their fondness for shellfish and fish broth, eaten on a daily basis, the Japanese probably consume more cholesterol than most Americans. What they do not consume is a lot of vegetable oil, white flour or processed food (although they do eat white rice.) The life span of the Japanese has increased since World War II with an increase in animal fat and protein in the diet.

A chorus of establishment voices, including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, claims that animal fat is linked not only with heart disease but also with cancers of various types. Yet when researchers from the University of Maryland analyzed the data they used to make such claims, they found that vegetable fat consumption was correlated with cancer and animal fat was not.

The cause of heart disease is not animal fats and cholesterol but rather a number of factors inherent in modern diets, including excess consumption of vegetables oils and hydrogenated fats; excess consumption of refined carbohydrates in the form of sugar and white flour; mineral deficiencies, particularly low levels of protective magnesium and iodine; deficiencies of vitamins, particularly of vitamin C, needed for the integrity of the blood vessel walls, and of antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E, which protect us from free radicals; and, finally, the disappearance of antimicrobial fats from the food supply, namely, animal fats and tropical oils.52 These once protected us against the kinds of viruses and bacteria that have been associated with the onset of pathogenic plaque leading to heart disease.

Wow….amazing stuff taken from Weston Price’s article on the Skinny on Fats. There is much more to that and a MUST read for anyone who takes their health seriously.

So looks like we may not be getting the whole story does it? Ok…what else is there to know?

Suppose you were forced to live on a diet of red meat and whole milk. A diet that, all told, was at least 60 percent fat – about half of it saturated. If your first thoughts are of statins and stents, you may want to consider the curious case of the Masai, a nomadic tribe in Kenya and Tanzania.

In the 1960s, a Vanderbilt University scientist named George Mann, M.D., found that Masai men consumed this very diet (supplemented with blood from the cattle they herded). Yet these nomads, who were also very lean, had some of the lowest levels of cholesterol ever measured and were virtually free of heart disease.

Scientists, confused by the finding, argued that the tribe must have certain genetic protections against developing high cholesterol. But when British researchers monitored a group of Masai men who moved to Nairobi and began consuming a more modern diet, they discovered that the men’s cholesterol subsequently skyrocketed.

For 30 years, Dr. Krauss – an adjunct professor of nutritional sciences at the University of California at Berkeley – has been studying the effect of diet and blood lipids on cardiovascular disease. He points out that while some studies show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats lowers heart-disease risk, this doesn’t mean that saturated fats lead to clogged arteries. “It may simply suggest that unsaturated fats are an even healthier option,” he says.

But there’s more to this story: In 1980, Dr. Krauss and his colleagues discovered that LDL cholesterol is far from the simple “bad” particle it’s commonly thought to be. It actually comes in a series of different sizes, known as subfractions. Some LDL subfractions are large and fluffy. Others are small and dense. This distinction is important.

Perhaps the apparent bias against saturated fat is most evident in studies on low-carbohydrate diets. Many versions of this approach are controversial because they place no limitations on saturated-fat intake. As a result, supporters of the diet-heart hypothesis have argued that low-carb diets will increase the risk of heart disease. But published research doesn’t show this to be the case. When people on low-carb diets have been compared head-to-head with those on low-fat diets, the low-carb dieters typically scored significantly better on markers of heart disease, including small, dense LDL cholesterol, HDL/LDL ratio, and triglycerides, which are a measure of the amount of fat circulating in your blood.

from this article at MSNBC online about “What if bad fat isn’t so bad”?

and there’s more….ever hear of the Inuit Paradox? Here’s a bunch of reading up on them:

The Inuit ate a diet high in meat and fat, low in fruits and vegetables and still had low rates of heart disease and cancer (sadly only recently when more modernization came to them in the form of convenience stores, soda and other processed foods did you see the illnesses start to increase. Once sugar came to them….things went sour)

from this article by Mike at theIFLife.

One of the differences is that the traditional Inuit’s diet is very high in omega-3 fats while our diet is very high in omega-6 fats. Science has shown that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be as close to a ratio of 1:1 and certainly no more than 4:1. Inuits are about the only people to approach the 1:1 ratio, while we typically come in at 20:1, or upwards of 50:1 for real junk food lovers. A balanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio promotes a balanced, non-inflammatory state in the body, while tilting the scale toward a higher level of omega-6 will promote an inflammatory ‘ and therefore diseased and degenerative ‘ state.

from this article at VistaMagOnline

The Inuit are cold-hardy hunters whose traditional diet consists of a variety of sea mammals, fish, land mammals and birds. They invented some very sophisticated tools, including the kayak, whose basic design has remained essentially unchanged to this day. Most groups ate virtually no plant food. Their calories came primarily from fat, up to 75%, with almost no calories coming from carbohydrate. Children were breast-fed for about three years, and had solid food in their diet almost from birth. As with most hunter-gatherer groups, they were free from chronic disease while living a traditional lifestyle, even in old age.

from this article by Stephan at WholeHealthSource

ok…you get the picture. But wait…doesn’t eating fat make you fat? No….

Fats have little or no impact on insulin and, as a result, promote the burning of both dietary and stored (adipose) fat as fuel. Think about this: if protein and carbs stay fairly constant (and carbs stay under 150), you can use fat as the major energy variable in your diet. Feeling like you need more fuel (and you’ve already covered your bases with protein and carbs)? Reach for something with fat. Nuts, avocados, coconut, eggs, butter, olive oil, fish, chicken, lamb, beef, the list is a long one. 100 grams of fats per day would only add 900 calories to our girl’s daily average, putting her at between 1620 and 1940 calories a day. Even if she averages somewhere between 1400 and 2200 calories per day over a few weeks, as long as she pays attention to protein and carbs, her body composition will shift to lower body fat and more desirable lean mass. If she decides to do some walking, a few brief intense weight sessions and a sprint day here and there, that process would accelerate greatly. If she gets to a point where she’s content with her body fat, she can even add in a little more fat to provide energy that she previously got from her stored fat.

The main thing I’ve figured out from eating this way for years is that I don’t need nearly as many calories to maintain health, mass, and body fat as I once thought I did – or as the Conventional Wisdom says I do. I eat 600-1000 calories per day less than when I ate a carbohydrate-based diet, yet I maintain slightly lower body fat and slightly higher muscle mass on even less training. Remember: 80% of body composition is determined by diet. The best part is that I don’t ever feel hungry because I base my eating on exactly what my 10,000-year-old genes want me to eat.

from Mark at MarksDailyApple who is pretty ripped and feeling great!

So any fat is good right? Ummm, No. You’ve heard about Trans-Fats right? Rancid or unstable fats in our system is one of the most destructive forces…that WE created with our processed foods.

For over three and half decades, Western civilization assumed that animal fats were the main cause of dietary heart disease. This misinformation is highlighted by the fact that heart attacks began to rise when consumption of animal fats actually decreased. This was verified by British research, which revealed that those areas in the U.K. where people consumed more margarine and less butter had the highest numbers of heart attacks. Further studies revealed that heart attack patients had consumed the least amounts of animal fats.

In this context, it is important to differentiate between processed and unprocessed fats. It has been discovered that people who died from a heart attack were found to have many more of the harmful fatty acids derived from the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in their fat tissue than those who survived. These so-called “faulty” fats (trans-fatty acids) envelop and congest the membranes of cells, including those that make up the heart and coronary arteries. This practically starves the cells of oxygen, nutrients, and water, and eventually kills them.

In another more comprehensive study, 85,000 nurses working in American hospitals observed a higher risk for heart disease in patients who consumed margarine, crisps, potato chips, biscuits, cookies, cakes, and white bread, all of which contain trans fats.

Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53 percent over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study. While actually increasing LDL cholesterol, margarine lowers the beneficial HDL cholesterol. It also increases the risk of cancers up to five times. Margarine suppresses both the immune response and insulin response. This highly processed and artificial product is practically resistant to destruction, being one molecule away from plastic. Flies, bacteria, fungi, etc. won’t go near it because it has no nutritional value and cannot be broken down by them. It can last for years, not just outside the body, but inside as well.

It is very apparent that eating damaged, rancid fats or trans-fats can destroy any healthy organism and should be avoided by anyone. In 2007 New York City banned the use of trans fats in its restaurants; however, the trans fats are merely being replaced with new artificial fats that have the same or worse effects.

from a great read at Natural News. So throw out your margarine…and get some real butter!

Ok….so what is the real truth about fat and heart disease then? Well one study at PubMed sums it up pretty nicely:

This finding may indicate that high-fat diets could easily give rise to an unhealthy diet when combined with carbohydrates, highlighting the significance of macronutrient composition, rather than caloric content, in high-fat diets.

To sum up:

  • Sat fat is not bad for you…..and has no direct links to heart disease or cancers
  • There are plenty of people who are healthier, leaner, stronger, live longer and have little to no degenerative diseases on a high fat diet
  • Health CAN turn sour once you bring in processed carbs/sugars into a high fat diet
  • Rancid fats are destructive….like Trans-Fats and overcook/spoiled PolyUnsaturated Fats (Veg Oils).
  • The amount of Fats you eat is not the big issue when it comes to heart disease and preventing cancers (and other degenerative diseases)….controlling insulin/inflammation/oxidative damage (rancid fats) is!

Print this out….give it to your family doctor.

photo by rakka

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