Fat is stored energy (the most concentrated form of metabolic energy available to humans) and one of the three main classes of food (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats).
Because fat is storage of energy, fat from unhealthy plants or animals may store some of the contaminants that the source plant/animal was exposed to. This is not a concern with plants/animals grown/raised wholly on natural pastures.
Man-made Trans-fatty acids, or "partially hydrogenated" cooking oil, are processed fats and are readily found in today’s processed food supply. The human enzyme lipase cannot metabolize hydrogenated oils properly, allowing undigested trans-fats to enter the blood stream where they damage the arteries. The body’s cholesterol repairs the damage, but with repeated abuse, scare tissue (plaque) builds up layer upon layer eventually leading to Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Fat has a high calorie density. This is only bad if your are watching your caloric intake.
Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K can only be digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats. Saturated fats are essential in incorporating calcium into the skeletal structure. Fats are sources of essential fatty acids (EFA), an important dietary requirement necessary for regulating metabolism. EFA's cannot be made by the body, therefore need to be consumed.
Many Americans, without even knowing it, are on a very low-fat diet. Most Americans – especially American women – are severely deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids. This deficiency has been clinically proven to cause depression, mood swings, high blood pressure and obesity. The consumption of healthy organic animal and vegetable (saturated and unsaturated) fats will provide the necessary Omega fatty acids. The best example of a healthy saturated fat would be Organic tropical oils, especially Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and Organic Coconut Milk. Proper levels of fats in ones diet will help regulate metabolism, burn body fat, and is believed to:
• Protect against heart disease
• Improve cognitive function
• Decrease risk of blood clots
• Reduce inflammation
• Keep skin supple and wrinkle-free
The fats to avoid are Man-Made Trans Fats. These are any oils that have been hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that induces hydrogen into a substance and in doing so, destroys the oils essential fatty acids. The reason this is done is that polyunsaturated fats such as corn and safflower oil spoil over a short time when stored. The partly-hydrogenation process acts as a preservative, extending the shelf life of the product. Hydrogenation is also used to make vegetable oils solid at room temperature. Clinical studies are proving there are severe health risks in consuming these hydrogenated oils. One concern is that fats can only be burned as fuel in the mitochondria when in the presents of essential fatty acids. When there is a lack of EFA's, then how is the body to utilize these fats?
One of the key attributes about fat is that it helps regulate metabolism and blood sugar. If you read “The Perricone Prescription” by Nicholas Perricone, MD, you will learn that insulin released = stored body fat. Additionally, the consumption of fat will smoothen out emotional ups and downs by leveling out the release of insulin. So, eating fat will help you lose weight and make you mentally healthier. Yes, you need healthy fats (saturated and unsaturated) to burn body fat. Read page 125-140 in “Patient Heal Thyself” by Jordan S. Rubin for further understanding of this statement. Also read a few pages in the book “How I gave up my low-fat diet and lost 40 pounds” by Dana Carpender. Just go to Amazon.com and search for the title and there you can read the first six or so pages of the book. They are inspiring for those trying to loose weight.
The way this whole “Low-Fat” craze started is that in the 1950's a doctor of physiology, Dr. Ancel Keys, graphically demonstrated a correlation between fat consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, he had handpicked the data from six of the 22 available countries with relevant statistics. If all the countries were included, there would have been no associations between fat consumption and CVD. Real clinical studies have been performed to determine such a correlation; however, these controlled clinical trials have never demonstrated a beneficial effect of saturated fat restriction or cholesterol lowering. Interesting enough, Dr. Keys served on the board of the American Heart Association (AHA), and his erroneous theories were officially incorporated into AHA dietary guidelines in 1961. This information was then utilized buy corporate America (the companies that make corn, sunflower, safflower oils, etc.) to promote their products. Through mass advertising and skewing the facts from the doctors’ findings, we now live with the false belief that low fat diets are healthy. Consider this, since the low-fat era started; the American public has been gaining weight at an alarming rate. Moreover, it is indisputable that while Americans have reduced their fat consumption over the past 50 years there has been no reduction of CVD. Additionally, diabetes and obesity in both adults and children have dramatically increased during those same 50 years. All this leads to a strong conclusion that low-fat diets and statin drugs do not prevent CVD.
Some studies have shown that low-fat diets can lower LDL cholesterol, however, LDL cholesterol is not actually bad cholesterol as believed. The purpose of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is to repair vessel membranes. Consumption of hydrogenated oils, homogenized dairy products and chlorine can lead to lesions occurring in blood vessels. LDL cholesterol responds with an oxidation process that covers the lesion. With repeated repair, a soft plaque formation can form to the extent that it blocks the flow of blood, leading to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart attack. However, lesions of blood vessels and oxidation of LDL cholesterol should not be occurring with a healthy lifestyle.
Final note: The New York Times published an article on February 8th, 2006 written by Gina Kolata that states:
The largest study ever to ask whether a low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has found that the diet has no effect.
The $415 million federal study involved nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today.
"These studies are revolutionary," said Dr. Jules Hirsch, physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University in New York City, who has spent a lifetime studying the effects of diets on weight and health. "They should put a stop to this era of thinking that we have all the information we need to change the whole national diet and make everybody healthy."