How to Get the Right Fat in Your Diet
God created us with the desire to eat and enjoy fat. I’ve tried no-fat diets and you probably have too. After a few days, you look for the most greasy, fatty foods you can find. I remember looking for oil for my salads and butter for my bread. Going no-fat was no fun!
Over the years, fat has gotten a bad reputation and many people tried to eliminate as much fat from their diet as possible. However, essential fatty acids are vital for life and they are essential for the healthy functioning of every organ, cell and tissue in your body. Unfortunately, although our modern day diets are high in fat, it’s usually not the “good” kind of fat. Many of our foods are cooked with overheated, processed and even rancid oils which make them toxic and difficult for our bodies to digest and assimilate.
Scientists made one of the first meaningful associations between fats and health when they studied the Eskimos of Greenland in the late 1970s. As a group, these people had far less coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis than their European counterparts. Yet their diet was very high in fat from eating whale, seal, and salmon. Eventually researchers and medical professionals realized that these foods were all rich in a type of fat known as omega-3 fatty acids, which provided incredible health benefits.
Research shows that ninety-nine percent of Americans have omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies due to not eating enough foods which contain this fat. Because the deficiency symptoms are so vague, most people are not even aware that they might be low. Here are some common symptoms of an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency:
*Dry, itchy skin
*Brittle hair or nails
You might wonder where these fats are found in our American diet. Fats and oils contain essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are the unsaturated fatty acids that the body needs in order to maintain good health. We obtain EFAs only through the foods we eat. There are two types of EFAs: omega-6 and omega-3. Omega-6s are found in foods such as nuts, beef, chicken and vegetable and olive oils. While they are essential as well, consuming too many omega-6s may cause health issues, especially if the level of omega-3s is comparatively low. Today people often consume 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, which can put a burden on our heart and circulatory system. The healthiest diet would consume a balance of omega-3s as omega-6s. Omega-3s are found in vegetarian sources such as flaxseeds, nuts, and avocados, which contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Omega-3s found in cold-water fish sources such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring contain both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Since not everybody can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, I recommend that you include fatty fish or a fish oil supplement in your diet.
Populations who achieve this balance and whose diets are rich in cold-water fish, enjoy a low incidence of heart disease. Omega-3 fish oils and supplements support our health on many levels and there are many reasons to include them in your diet. They are clinically proven to:
*lower blood triglyceride levels
*reduce the risk of heart attack
*reduce the risk of dangerous abnormal heart rhythms
*reduce the risk of strokes
*slow the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques
*help lower blood pressure
*reduce stiffness and joint tenderness associated with Rheumatoid arthritis
*support optimal brain development for the fetus and nursing babies
*supports healthy eye development in children and newborns
*support healthy brain and memory function
*supports healthy inflammatory responses and immune system function
*supports healthy mood and helps address the challenge of stress
Because these wonderful fats support nearly every tissue in the body, an omega-3 fish oil may also help improve or possibly prevent the following: Alzheimer’s disease and dementia; depression, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, hyperactivity and ADHD.
To get enough of this wonderful fat in your diet, eat fatty fish such as tuna and salmon two to three times a week. If you don’t like fish, look for a fish oil supplement that is free from mercury, PCBs and peroxides. Don’t take expired supplements and just take the recommended dosage. I also recommend that you break the capsule open with your mouth to check them. If they are bitter or rancid, throw them away. Getting the right kind of fat in your diet can go a long way to supporting your health.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburg have found that people who consume high amounts of long-chain omega-3s (found in oily fish), have more grey matter in the parts of the brain associated with mood. Previously it has been shown that people with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, are more positive and less likely to be depressed.
Eat your fish — it’s brain food,” our mothers told us, and we repeat that mantra to our own children. For years we’ve heard that fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, is good for our brain health. And many scientists identified omega-3 fatty acids as the substance in the fish that would help our math skills, keep us alert and preserve our brain health. That made sense because omega-3 fatty acids — which are also found in high levels in tuna, sardines and trout — are a type of fat that is crucial in brain function.
Lorrie Medford, CN copyright 2014 All rights reserved