To think that all fats are fattening and to be avoided at all costs is just not true.
Fats – well these are what you find in butter, cheese, oils and, of course animal fats and fish fats.
It is constantly drilled into us that fat is bad for us, fat is fattening and is to be eaten in as small a quantity as is possible.
However if you stop and think, the story isn’t quite so clear.
There are various types of fat. Saturated fat (evil), polyunsaturated fat (good), omega 3 (good). However, using this knowledge, people end up thinking that these tubs of Just Like Butter stuff are actually better for you than butter itself. On the other hand, it is also increasingly known that omega 3 fats are a good thing. So what I want to do is break down some of this confusion and talk a little about the various fats and, indeed, fat itself and fight its corner.
So let’s start with something simple. Some people need more fat than others. Fat is not an inherently bad thing. Fat in a meal makes you feel satisfied with the meal. The amount of fat you need to achieve this does vary from person to person (and from the amount of stress they are currently enduring – more stress = more fat needed). And so if you eat a very low fat meal, feeling very virtuous, it is a sure fire thing that you will be assailed by cravings after the meal. Some nights you will be able to resist, feel herioc and in control of your destiny; on other nights you will end up bingeing which leads to you feeling fat and guilty. So if you want to lose or maintain weight, then you need to accept your need of fat and stop beating yourself up about binges if you ignore this!
Point of fact. Blood sugar. Fat stabilises blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops, you have to rush to the biscuit barrel/bag of crisps/ snarf a fruit juice and all these things do make you fat. Stable blood sugar is a binge preventer.
All fats are not equal. It has been generally thought that fats that are liquid at room temperature are better for you than those that are solid. But, surprise, this is way too simplistic.
Let’s take butter – a saturated fat. But something very very important first:
TOXINS ARE STORED IN FAT.
So it is very very sensible to buy organic butter. Otherwise you will also be consuming in your butter pesticides and fungicides and chemical fertilizers. Yum yum I think not.
Now butter is a good source of Butyric acid. This scary sounding stuff is needed by the body (it is vital in maintaining the integrity of the gastro-intestinal wall. It helps suppress tumours in the colon and helps the beneficial bacteria to establish themselves) and if you do any endurance form of cardio-vascular work, then butyric acid gets very depleted. If your guts are unhealthy then this can lead to a chain reaction of events going wrong throughout the body and brain. So the Reader’s Digest version = Organic Butter is very good for you. And don’t mess about with the pretentenders!
What about Coconut oil? Another saturated fat. Well this a great source of Lauric Acid. Well Lauric acid is a bit of a wonder food. It is found in abundance in coconut oil and in breast milk.. So amongst other claims to fame it is anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, increases the immune system, speeds up metabolism (ie helps weight-loss), helps the metabolism of glucose so is good for diabetics. So perhaps rushing off to get some coconut oil right now would be an excellent idea (I’m not sure I’m allowed to say this, but I have found the Tiana brand to taste the best).
Let’s look at the dreaded animal fats. As I blarted out earlier, toxins are stored in fat. And this goes for all fat – whether it is in vegetables, fishes, animals or humans. So if you eat meat the animal of which had a short horrible life stuffed full of growth promoters never seeing the light of day, then the fat of that animal will be pretty toxic. Cheap food does come at a high price to health – both yours and the animals. However the fat of a grass fed cow, whilst not so healthy as coconut oil is still fine – if it was slaughtered in early summer it will be a good source of Omega 3 oil – and this is a very good thing indeed.
To put it another way. Man was designed to eat dead things since man was man – but the dead things we are designed to eat should have a natural life, eating things that are natural to the animal. Cows, sheep and hens are not meat eaters!
The animals that eat the best diet for them are the wild ones, so wild meats are without doubt the best. As it happens, they are low in fat. You virtually have to add fat to a wild duck! After the wild animals come organically reared ones and grass fed ones (well, not grass fed hens!). Cheaply reared meat is awful.
Having sorted out meat and birds, let’s look at fish. Let’s face it. We’ve made a right mess of the oceans, so much so that the government recommends eating oily fish only twice a week. And they talk of the huge amount of plastic waste in the oceans which pollute all fish. I repeat: toxins are stored in fat. The bigger the oily fish, the older it is and the more toxins it will have stored in it. So fish like tuna, swordfish and shark are heavily polluted. And not only with heavy metals but also with solvents, PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants. Therefore the advice is to eat oily fish salmon sized and smaller (sardines, herrings, whitebait etc). Why am I babbling on about fish? Because oily fish is an excellent source of Omega 3. But oily fish is also a good source of mercury, which is a dangerous thing.
Omega 3.. The most important fat we should eat is omega 3. When we were cave men and only ate wild things, they reckon that our intake of omega 3 roughly equalled our intake of omega 6 ie a ratio of 1:1. These days the ratio of omega 3:6 is 1:20 or even higher. This is immensely damaging to health. In point of fact, all diseases known to man are mitigated by supplementing with Omega 3 – and this is because it helps to restore the ratio of omega 3:6 to more natural levels, the ratio that we evolved to need.
Does eating fat aid weightloss? Well, you have already learnt that coconut .speeds up metabolism. Now Omega 3 switches off the fat storage genes and turns on the fat burning genes. This is a most wonderful thing! Omega 3 melts body fat. Hurrah. And boosts health.
But before you zip onto Google to buy some fish oils (for this is the other name for omega 3) just remember – all toxins are stored in fat.
And fish oils are no exception. You really do have to know the provenance of the fish oil to know if it is safe. If a fish oil was manufactured in Norway, then you will be fine.
In that country, by law, the oil has to be not only clean of heavy metals, PCBs, solvents etc but the cleaning agent has to be non-carcinogenic. If that doesn’t scare you then you are not concentrating. So I’m afraid that giving your children fish oils bought from any old shop is running a heavy risk of giving them heavy metal poisoning etc.
Assuming you have a good clean source of fish oil there are other benefits than fat loss. Fish oil is good for blood density. If your blood is too thick it thins it (ie lowers blood pressure), if it is too thin, it thickens it (ie raises very low blood pressure. This has to be a good thing. Those of you with low blood pressure – how would it be if you didn’t go dizzy everytime you stood up quickly?). The technical term for this is adaptagenic – ie it does what it needs to and does no harm if it is not needed in that department.
There are 2 sorts of fish oil = EPA and DHA. In short EPA is for inflammation in the body (high cholesterol is the result of inflammation in the body, for example), DHA is for the brain. Children need high DHA – but adults can benefit from it too.
The reliable brands of fish oil that I currently know of are Poliquin, Metagenics, Thorne. Eskimo is very variable so not trustworthy.
To gain some benefit from fish oil, you do need to take more than 1gm a day.
Readers Digest: Fish oils are fantastically good for everybody and everybody needs them and will benefit from them. They are a staple. But you must be careful of your source.
Omega 6. Well things could get very very confusing now. But rather than going down that street, I’ll just talk about what really matters.
Problem number 1 = the ratio of omega 3:6 is hopelessly skewed. So if you eat the omega 6s such as sunflower oil you further worsen the ratio. This is partly why OLIVE OIL is such a good thing. It is an omega 9 oil.
Problem number 2 = what happens when you heat oils up. This is when things turn nasty. The term is RANCIDITY. Rancid fat is as bad for you as transfats. It is the speed with which oils turn rancid with the addition of heat that matters.
So Flax and Hemp Seed Oil should not be heated at all.
Sunflower, safflower and pumpkin can be heated but only to 100° - ie use in baking.
Sesame, hazelnut and olive oil can go up to 163° = light sauteing.
Coconut (what else!!) Ghee (clarified butter, hooray), Palm oil and Lard can be used at high heat for frying or browning.
Even these fats will turn rancid if you reheat them. Repeated heating and cooling of fat changes the chemical structure to something closer to plastic.
There you are. If nothing else, just avoiding fat doesn’t help weightloss. Eating horrible fat is an unworthy thing to do. Eating good fat is a most wonderful thing to do.
So, can eating fat aid weightloss? A most emphatic YES IT CAN.