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Fats that put your health at risk and induce weight gain

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In my previous blog I highlighted some good fats such as saturated (plant – based), poly – unsaturated omega 3 and mono- unsaturated that should be part of a healthy diet.

But what exactly is Fat?

Fats provide a substantial source of energy in the diet. They are the building blocks of all cell membranes and hormones in the body. They also play a vital role in the absorption of the fat –soluble vitamins A,D, E and K.

There are different kinds of fats: saturated, mono- unsaturated, poly- unsaturated, trans – fatty acid or hydrogenated fats.

So which fats should we avoid?

Modern dietary ‘experts’ tells us that diet high in poly-unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats and cholesterol are healthy for us. However, hunter – gatherers never ate a diet high in poly – unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats and they not suffered from the following diseases. A diet high in poly- unsaturated oils has been shown to be a factor in diseases such as cancer, heart disease, liver damage, weight gain, immune dysfunction and digestive disorders.

Poly – unsaturated fats consist of 2 major types: Omega 3 – fatty acids, found in fish oil and oily fish and Omega – 6 fatty acids, found in vegetable oils. Your body is unable to make these fats and therefore termed ‘’essential fatty acids’’.

When you buy vegetable oils branded as ‘good’ in the supermarket are tend to be high in omega 6 fatty acids and they easily become rancid due to being stored for too long. Hunter gatherers ate a diet which yielded an omega 6:3 ratio as 2:1 on average. Nowadays with a high intake of foods containing omega 6 in commercial and processed foods, the ratio can be as high as 30:1. This lead to diseases like heart disease. A recent article released in the British Medical Journal explains the risk of high omega – 6 intake:

”Dietary advice about fats and the risk of heart disease is called into question on today as a clinical trial shows that replacing saturated animal fats with omega-6 polyunsaturated vegetable fats is linked to an increased risk of death among patients with heart disease.”

The bottom line is that we need to significantly decrease omega-6 by avoiding processed foods and foods cooked at high temperatures using vegetable oils. Start increasing the intake of heart healthy omega – 6 fatty acids found in Olive oil, Avocados and Nuts.

Reducing Omega – 6 intake is all we have to do?

A man made fat that is called trans – fatty acids or hydrogenated fat is the one you need to avoid at all cost. Hydrogenated fats are commercially produced though the process of hydrogenation to make liquid fats solid by adding the atom called hydrogen. Though the years saturated fat has taken most of the bad reputation for trans fat.

Let’s get things straight: trans fat – not saturated fat is the one must be rigidly avoided.

Trans fats are thought to be worse for us than saturated fats because they not only raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, they also lower HDL (good) cholesterol and clogs the arteries.

Scientists found that each increase of one percentage point in calories from trans fats resulted in an additional two-pound weight gain over eight years. Therefore a 4 percent increase in trans fats intake would translate to a weight gain of eight pounds. A study of monkeys showed those who ate more trans fat gained more abdominal weight. Over six years, male monkeys fed a western-style diet that contains trans fats had a 7.2 percent increase in body weight, compared to a 1.8 percent increase in monkeys that ate monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil. Scans also showed that all the extra weight deposited 30 percent more fat in their abdomen. Diet high in hydrogenated fats also lead to cancer, diabetes, obesity, bone and joint problems.

Since January 2006, manufacturers have been required to list trans fat content on their labels. If you read the following phrases on the food label “partially hydrogenated,” “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” or “shortening” on nutritional labels I strongly recommend you put the product back on the shelf. Since they are dead giveaways the product contain some trans fat.

The main point is to avoid prepared baked foods such as cookies, vegetable shortenings, crisp, pies, donuts, fast foods, take away foods and processed foods. Choose healthy alternatives such as raw, organic, grilled and steamed foods and use butter for cooking instead of margarine.

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