The Tasty Truth: Fats That Fight for Your Health

Our complex relationship with dietary fats has been receiving a lot of attention lately, especially since researchers and medical professionals have begun shifting their views on the risks and benefits of certain types of fats. Trans fats have increasingly been referred to as unhealthy, processed ingredients that can harm overall health. Meanwhile, saturated fat is no longer considered to increase the risk of heart disease, and as a result, organic butter, grass-fed meats, coconut oil, and other saturated fat products have all been reinstated in importance.

We need a moderate supply of healthy, dietary fats in our diet for optimal brain and immune health, hormone balance, and skin health. A recent study conducted in the U.S. and the Netherlands found that many people can determine the fat content in milk simply by smelling it.

Every cell in our body contains fat. The cell membrane, largely composed of fats, is vital to the life of the cell. It even functions as the “brain” of the cell, receiving and processing messages from the environment as well as sending messages. Healthy fats mean healthy cell membranes that function as they were designed to. So the issue is not whether we should banish fat from our diets. The issue is what kinds of fats we should consume.

The Right Fat

Healthy fats support immunity, cognitive function, healthy immune response, hormone balance, the cardiovascular system, and numerous other areas of health. Bad fats, quite often, do just the opposite.

Good fats are divided into two types: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, avocados, high oleic sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, hemp seed oil, cashews, and other sources, can help moderate inflammation and support healthy cholesterol levels when consumed in moderation.

Polyunsaturated fats can be found in salmon, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. These foods contain omega-6 and omega-3 fats in varying ratios. A better balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fats is crucial, as the American diet often leans heavily on the former. Omega-3 fats are excellent antioxidants that reduce inflammation and have been shown to help people lose weight, as they can enhance both fat and glucose metabolism.

Saturated fats, once thought to be associated with heart disease and weight gain, can play an important role in nourishing the body and brain. New research challenges old ideas that these fats are harmful, providing evidence that they can support immunity, reduce inflammation, balance cholesterol levels, enhance neurological and cognitive function, regulate hormones, and more.

The Wrong Fat

Trans fats, typically made when hydrogen is forcibly added to vegetable oil, are found in margarine and countless processed foods. Hydrogenated oils have a longer shelf life, which is why manufacturers use them. However, these fats are linked to numerous health issues.

The American Heart Association states that trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce good cholesterol (HDL). They increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and have also been associated with cancer. Moreover, they boost inflammation and have even been linked to aggressive behavior.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a ban on trans fats, noting that their removal from diets could prevent 20,000 heart attacks a year. Other research suggests that eliminating trans fats could prevent as many as 20 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease.

Nitro Fatty Acids Support Heart Health

To avoid trans fats, it’s crucial to steer clear of processed foods like french fries, donuts, chips, and crackers, as these tend to be loaded with them.

A study published in the journal PNAS revealed that adding olive oil, nuts, and avocados to a meal with lots of vegetables high in nitrites and nitrates can produce nitro fatty acids, which can have significant benefits for cardiovascular health and overall well-being.

It’s critical to carefully choose the healthiest fats and reduce or eliminate those that we know are bad for us. These good choices will be rewarded with better weight control, improved cardiovascular health, and a multitude of long-term benefits on the cellular level.