I was listening to the radio and the discussion was about fats and the importance of them. As most of us know, there are good and bad fats. Two items that were interesting were
1) Everything in moderation was the general consensus of the public and the experts being interviewed. Fats are important to the brain.
2) There was special attention in the discussion about the importance of fats for children when they grow up and the job of fats as the body is growing and developing.
Here is some more information about Fats:
Balance is the key to making fat work for you. There are two important considerations:
a) Consume a variety of good fats. These include unrefined oils, such as extra virgin olive and safflower and sesame. Fats from butter, meats, eggs and dairy are good as well, as long as they are part of a balanced diet.
b) Avoid hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) fats. These include margarine and many of the fats used to make breads and other products (read labels). Hydrogenated fats can disturb the metabolism of fats in the body. Also, fried or cooked fats should be avoided for similar reasons.
Why are fats so good? Here are ten reasons:
1. Fat as a Source of Energy.
The body uses two main fuels for energy: carbohydrates and fats. The energy is obtained by changing carbohydrates to sugar (called blood sugar or glucose) and fats to fatty acids. However, fats can provide more than twice the energy of sugar.
Therefore, it makes more sense for the body to use fats whenever possible. One important factor related to this is a moderate level of activity, such as easy, aerobic exercise.
If the body cannot burn fat for energy (due to a lack of dietary fats or exercise), two things may happen:
a) It may be forced to use more sugar for energy, potentially affecting blood sugar. In some people, this low blood sugar may produce mood swings, fatigue, clumsiness, headaches, depression, allergies or other symptoms. However, if enough fat is converted to energy, blood sugar will be kept more stable, allowing the body to have an almost unlimited supply of energy. This will leave enough blood sugar for the brain and nervous system, which relies solely upon sugar.
b) In order for the body to use rather than store fats, they must be balanced. This means a variety of natural fats in the diet. The nutrients necessary for fat utilization must also be present. These include thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, and the minerals zinc and manganese.
2. Fat for the Hormonal System
One of the body’s important life supports, the hormonal system, is dependent upon fats for good performance. This includes the production of hormones for the glands of the adrenals, thyroid and thymus (immunity) as well as the sex glands. In the adrenals, for example, cholesterol is needed for the production of testosterone, progesterone and cortisone. Niacin and phosphorous are two nutrients which help make this possible.
These hormones help immunity against invading bacteria and viruses, replace worn out cells, temperature, weight control, blood pressure, the nervous system and many other areas. Without the presence of fats hormonal imbalance can develop.
3. Fat as an Insulator
The body’s ability to store some fat makes most climates on earth suitable for life. Normal fat deposits in the skin help prevent too much heat from escaping the body in colder environments and provides some protection from the heat in warmer climates.
Cholesterol and other fats serve as a protective barrier, making the skin resistant to substances that could cause harm, such as chemical pollutants and excess water.
In addition, fats in the skin help protect against dehydration by preventing too much bodily water from evaporating. One symptom of dehydration is dry, scaly skin. A certain amount of evaporation is normal, but fats prevent as much as 10-20 times more water from escaping the body.
4. Fat for Support and Protection
When we exercise, walk down a flight of stairs, and especially if we fall, a great amount of support and protection is needed. Fats help provide this protection, acting much like the packaging material one might use when mailing a fragile gift.
Fats support and protect the vital parts inside the body including the kidneys, adrenals, stomach, intestines, pancreas, uterus and ovaries. Stored fats help prevent these organs and glands from “sinking” lower and lower as a result of the daily downward stress of gravity. This “visceroptosis,” as it’s called, could adversely affect the organs and glands within the abdomen (as well as create an unsightly abdominal protrusion).
In addition, fats protect the lining of the stomach and intestines from irritating substances in the diet, such as alcohol and certain spices.
5. Fat and Prostaglandins
Scientists now understand that the hormone-like substances called prostaglandins (PG’s) are necessary for all cell function. They are produced in the body from fats in the diet and help regulate blood pressure, steroid production, immunity, water balance, pregnancy and lactation, and other life support systems. The PG’s also control free radicals, which, when in excess, may contribute to certain disease states.
6. Fats as Regulators of Vitamins and Minerals
Fats help the body utilize certain vitamins and minerals. Cholesterol (and sunlight) is important for the production of vitamin D in the skin. Absorption and utilization of vitamins A, D, E, and K are also highly dependent upon fats.
Calcium is a “hot” item these days, but the importance of fat for calcium utilization if usually forgotten. PG’s help get calcium into the cells of the muscles and bones. If the right fats (and PG’s) are not present, calcium may go unused. Fat dependent vitamin D is also necessary for proper calcium use.
7. Fats for Pregnancy and Lactation
Fats are a vital part of a healthy pregnancy as well as lactation. During pregnancy, fat physically protects the fetus. This protection is similar to what was discussed above. The fetus also develops its hormonal system after the mother’s, which is fat dependent.
During breast feeding, the baby gets PG’s and cholesterol through the mother’s milk, protecting the baby against allergies, asthma, and intestinal problems. These vital fats are not available to the body except through breast feeding. This natural method also promotes the mental health of the baby.
8. Fats and X-Rays
Fats help protect the body against the harmful effects of x-rays. There may be two reasons for this: 1) through physical protection of the cells – fats are a vital part of the cell’s outer wall, and 2) by controlling the excess free radicals which may be generated when x-rays are taken.
9. Fats and Digestion
Fats are important for proper digestion. Lipase and bile, two vital fatty substances, help in the digestion and absorption of dietary fats and vitamins A, D, E and K.
Lipase, a digestive enzyme produced by the pancreas, can also be found in certain foods such as avocado and olive oil. Eating these foods may be an aid to both digestion and overall fat metabolism.
Bile, produced in the liver arid stored in the gall bladder, is highly dependent upon fat for its use. Bile helps the large intestine work properly, including the production of vitamin B12, the control of cholesterol, and waste removal.
10. Fats Taste Good
Anyone who has tried to make a delicious meal knows the importance of fats for good taste. The palatability of good food as a result of the presence of fat may be the difference between a healthy appetite and a poor, unhealthy diet.
In summary, fat is important for good health. Dietary fats, however, must be balanced, to include a variety of natural oils, butter, meats, eggs and dairy in moderate amounts. Many people avoid fats because of misinformation and fear. As time goes on, the “low fat” trend will disappear, as much research has already shown the benefits of this necessary, healthy substance.
Most cholesterol is made by your body, with only a small amount coming from food. Even your heart cells normally make cholesterol! When you eat less cholesterol, the body makes more.
Whole milk, beef fat and chocolate have been shown to lower blood cholesterol! These fat facts are reported in medical journals such as the Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, and Nutrition Reviews.