I’m often asked my opinion on fat, so here it is! The bottom line - we need fat but we need the right kind. Fat is used to build our cell membranes and is the starting point for many hormones. It is required for our body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins - A, D, E, and K. It provides us with energy. It regulates body temperature and cushions the organs. It is essential for infant brain development and for the female reproductive system (a woman will not ovulate unless she has sufficient body fat).
There are two types of fats - saturated and unsaturated (further defined as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Saturated fats are solid while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are much more sensitive to light and heat. When heated they oxidize forming “free radicals” that damage cells and are linked to a variety of diseases including cancer and heart disease.
Another fat we hear of are trans fatty acids. These are formed during the process of hydrogenation. Polyunsaturated oils, usually corn, soybean, safflower, or canola, are heated to high temperatures and injected with hydrogen atoms. During the heating process the nutrients in the oils are destroyed, the oils become solid and have oxidized. Trans fats have been linked to many ailments, including cancer, heart disease, and reproductive problems. Trans fats are commonly found in commercial baked goods, cookies, crackers, margarines, vegetable shortenings, and processed dairy products.
Therefore, I recommend that you avoid foods containing polyunsaturated oils and trans fats. So what are the healthy fats to eat? Butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and cod liver oil.
For more information on these healthy fats please continue reading at my blog:
Bernard Rosen, PhD, is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Cedarburg. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com