Get Everything You Ever Wanted : Fats



Because fat is so important for so many bodily functions, you must consume an adequate
amount of fat each day. Unfortunately, our society has developed a fear of fat. In turn, many
companies have produced fat-free or low-fat products that contain high amounts of sugar or
high-fructose corn syrup, both of which increase hunger and cravings for sugary foods.
Because fats are an essential part of any meal plan, it is important to recognize them as
good or bad. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to tell the difference.

Fats to Avoid

All fats are not created equal. The most detrimental fats are hydrogenated ones called
trans-fatty acids (also called TFAs or “trans fats”)—most commonly listed as hydrogenated oils
or partially hydrogenated oils on food labels—and should be avoided in your diet.

Hydrogenation is a chemical hardening method commonly used to create fats that are
shelf-stable and have a higher melting point than their source material. To hydrogenate a liquid
vegetable oil, the oil is first washed, bleached, and deodorized and then heated to a high temperature
along with a metal catalyst (nickel, zinc, or copper). Next, hydrogen gas is bubbled through
the mixture. Partial hydrogenation results in a product that is semisolid at room temperature (like
margarine or a salad dressing oil that doesn’t separate), and full hydrogenation results in a product
that is solid at room temperature (like Crisco shortening). Regardless of the ultimate result,
hydrogenation completely alters the liquid oil’s molecular structure so that it no longer resembles
a natural fat; in fact, it becomes an unhealthy trans fat. Because the body does not recognize the
transformed molecule as a natural fat, it cannot process it and treats it as a toxin.
The molecular structure of a trans-fatty acid is closer to that of plastic than to that of a
normal fatty acid (Chek 2004, 72). Still, many processed foods—even some considered to be
healthy—are laden with trans fats. Food manufacturers use hydrogenated oils because they have
a long shelf life and are cheaper to use than the real thing, but research has shown that these fats
are detrimental to your health.

Trans fats can raise levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, commonly known as “bad
cholesterol”) and lead to clogged arteries, elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, type 2 diabetes,
and even cancer (Mercola with Droege 2003). The body has no use for trans fats and stores
them in fat cells and arteries. Consuming trans fats actually causes fat cravings; these cravings
continue until the body receives the essential fatty acids (EFAs)—the good fats—that it needs.

Good Fats

Good fats are derived from healthy food sources. Adequate amounts of the ideal fats for
your metabolism type—naturally occurring in your food, used in cooking, or taken as supple
ments—will fulfill your daily nutritional needs and keep you from getting hungry.

Essential Fatty Acids

The human body cannot survive without some fats—specifically, EFAs. EFAs are necessary
for the healthy function of every bodily process, including

• brain and nervous system activity,
• regulation of hormones,
• function of organs and the immune system,
• cell function, and
• digestion.

Our bodies need EFAs but cannot make them on their own; therefore, we must get them
from the foods we eat. The two kinds of EFAs are omega-3 and omega-6. Foods that are high in
omega-6 fats are grains, commercially raised meats, oils used in processed foods, and many commonly
used cooking oils, including corn, safflower, and sunflower. Omega-3 fats are found in
leafy green vegetables, oily fish (like salmon), walnuts, organic eggs, and naturally raised meats.

The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is between 1:2 and 1:4. Unfortunately, because
the typical American diet is abundant in grains and cooked oils and lacking in vegetables
and healthy fish, the average omega-6 intake is high and omega-3 intake low. This ratio has been
calculated in some people to be as high as 1:50! Clearly, we must make a conscious effort to
reduce the amount of omega-6s and increase the amount of omega-3s that we consume to bring
that ratio back toward its ideal.

Omega-3 fats are vital for the development and maintenance of the adult brain and
nervous system. In The Omega Diet, Artemis Simopoulos and Jo Robinson describe a study in
which mice fed a diet low in omega-3 fats (i.e., the most common American diet—lots of carbohydrates;
packaged, processed, and fast foods; minimal fruits, vegetables, and whole foods)
led to a decreased mental performance compared with mice fed a diet with adequate omega-3s
(Simopoulos and Robinson 1998, 87).

The same authors state that many behavioral and mood disorders are associated with a
lack of omega-3 or an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats in the diet. Their list of
recognized disorders (Simopoulos and Robinson 1998, 16) includes but is not limited to

• asthma
• attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• cancer
• depression (even among children)
• diabetes
• heart attack
• insulin resistance
• obesity
• stroke

While I normally like to keep supplements to a minimum and focus more on nutrients
from fresh foods, fish oil supplementation may be vital if you do not consume fresh fish on a regular
basis. Also, the health of our oceans—and thus of the fish that live in them—is not as good
as it used to be. Elevated mercury levels are increasingly found in most fresh fish sold for human
consumption. Incorporate one serving of fresh fish (especially wild salmon) every week or two,
but avoid fishes that often have elevated levels of mercury, such as tuna, shark, and swordfish.
Whatever your choices, consume at least two or three servings of omega-3 fats daily.

The Truth About Saturated Fat
Heart disease was quite rare before 1920—so rare that the electrocardiograph (which
performs the test now commonly known as an electrocardiogram [ECG]), developed to diagnose
coronary heart disease, was considered a waste of time and quickly rejected. Apparently, no one
suffered from clogged arteries at that time. But by the mid-1950s, heart disease was the leading
cause of death among Americans. Today, heart disease causes at least 40% of all deaths in the
United States each year.

In “The Skinny on Fats” (Fallon 2001, 5), the well-known nutritional expert Sally Fallon
states that
If, as we have been told, heart disease results from the consumption of saturated
fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase in animal fat in the American
diet over the same amount of time as the increase in heart disease. Actually,
the converse is true. During the sixty-year period from 1910–1970, the proportion
of traditional animal fat in the American diet declined from 83 percent to 62 percent,
and butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person each
year to four. During the past eighty years, the consumption of dietary cholesterol
intake has increased only one percent.

If saturated fat consumption actually decreased, then what increased? During the same
period, the average intake of dietary vegetable oils (in the form of margarine, shortening, and
refined oils) increased by about 400%, and the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased
by about 60% (Fallon 2001).

Given these data, saturated fats apparently have been falsely accused; they are not the
cause of modern disease. Unfortunately, people have been led to believe otherwise, so they try to
avoid any food that contains high levels of saturated fat.

Coconut oil contains primarily saturated fat but no trans fat. It is rich in lauric acid, which
is known for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Some medical doctors now
recommend coconut oil as a healthy food oil. In the informative online newsletter Doctor House
Call, Al Sears, M.D., states, “The saturated fat found in coconut oil is a unique fat that helps prevent
heart disease, helps to build up the immune system, and does not turn into fat in your body.

In fact, it helps to speed up your metabolism … helping you to burn fat and increase your energy!”
(Sears no date). And Joseph Mercola, D.O., claims, “Coconut oil is truly the healthiest oil
you can consume” and urges readers to try virgin coconut oil and “experience the health benefits
for yourself” (Mercola no date).

The saturated fat in coconut oil (as well as in palm kernel oil) is of the medium-chain
fatty acid (MCFA) variety. The body digests MCFAs more easily and uses them differently than
other fats. MCFAs are sent directly to the liver, where they are immediately converted into energy.
In other words, the body uses the fat to make energy rather than store it (Fife 2001, 39).

Cooking with Fats

Different types of fats respond differently to heat. Each fat has a smoke point—that is,
the temperature at which it begins to smoke, become discolored, and decompose (i.e., when the
fatty acid content is damaged). Never heat a fat to its smoke point to avoid turning it rancid and
unhealthy. Refer to the Cooking with Fats chart to choose the best fat for each type of cooking.
In general, the two best fats to use for cooking are unrefined coconut oil (for very high
heat) and raw organic butter (for medium-high heat; it should not turn brown during cooking).
Because they contain high levels of saturated fat, they stay chemically stable up to 375°F. Oils
that are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil, are best consumed
raw (e.g., on salads and vegetables) or used for light sautéing over medium heat.

Although coconut oil provides a significant amount of fat and calories, it has been proven
to increase the body’s metabolic rate, making it easier to lose weight. The Diet Solution Program
does not limit the amount that you can use each day. This is not to say that you should eat spoonful
after spoonful all day long; a reasonable amount would be 1–2 tsp three times per day for
cooking. I have never had a client not lose weight because of using too much coconut oil.

I know you’re going to find it difficult to believe, but butter—at least the raw organic
kind—is one of the healthiest whole foods you can include in your diet. Yes, butter contains high
levels of saturated fat; but remember, saturated fat is not the culprit behind weight gain and high
rates of disease. Trans fats (hydrogenated oils), sugars, and processed grains are the bad guys.
Like coconut oil, butter is high in lauric acid, which the body uses for energy.

Extra-virgin olive oil is another healthy oil. It is rich in antioxidants, and 1 or 2 teaspoons
go a long way (on a salad or in a sauté). When buying olive oil, look for oil that is cloudy (indicating
that it has not been filtered) and has a golden yellow color (which means that it was made
from fully ripened olives). Extra virgin is best. And, of course, it should be organic. - 43 -

Action Steps

• Clean out your cupboards of all foods and snacks that contain hydrogenated or partially
hydrogenated oil. You will find it in more packaged foods than you think, including
many crackers, chips, pretzels, cookies, cereal bars, ready-to-eat cereals, microwave
popcorn, and low-fat and fat-free snacks.

• Change your mind-set to no longer associate snacking with chips, crackers, and popcorn.
Perfect snacks can be a smaller version of a real meal, such as a hard-boiled egg,
a few pieces of chicken with vegetables, chopped vegetables, fruit, nuts, or nut butters.
Fresh food is always the best food.

• Only use quality fats for cooking: coconut oil, butter (raw organic), and olive oil
(unfiltered, organic, extra virgin). Brands and sources are listed in the Food Shopping
Guide. Avoid margarine and shortening, which are hydrogenated vegetable oil.

• Consume at least two to three servings daily of good-quality omega-3 fats from fish
oil, seeds (especially flaxseed), avocados, and nuts (raw organic), especially walnuts.

• Avoid roasted nuts. The roasting process causes the fats and oils to go rancid, and rancid
oils increase free-radical damage in the body. (Free radicals accelerate aging.)

• Snack on organic nut butters. Most stores carry peanut, almond, cashew, and macadamia
nut butters. The ingredient list should not contain anything but one kind of nut and
salt. Most peanut butters contain roasted peanuts, so read labels carefully.

• Incorporate whole organic eggs into your diet, with breakfast or as a snack.

• When cooking with fat, add the fat to a cold pan and increase heat gradually.

• Serve flaxseed oil, cod liver oil, or fish oil straight from the bottle, on salads, or on
cooked vegetables. Refrigerate these oils to avoid rancidity.

• If you find it difficult to incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fats into your meal
plan, take an omega-3 supplement daily. A great option is Krill Oil (http:// from Prograde. Prograde has agreed to work with
the DSP and offer a 30% discount off your first purchase. Just use coupon code DSP30
when placing your order.