Which Fats to Eat and Which to Avoid

Which Fats to Eat and Which to Avoid

It’s time to change the way you think about fat. For 30 years, well-meaning diet gurus have preached that eating fat makes you fat.

I’m here to tell you that fat, in and of itself, is not what is making you fat. Instead, it’s eating too much of the wrong kinds of fat. After all, all fats are not created equal. But, if you are like 90 percent of Americans, you're eating the wrong kind of fat most of the time. Now, it's time for an oil change!

What is Fat?

Fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks. The average person is between 15 and 30 percent fat! Of all of the types of fats in our diets, the body only REALLY needs two—omega-3 and omega-6.

What is an omega fat? The omega numbers (in this case 3 and 6) refer to where the hydrogen atom joins the fat molecule. Remember, the name is just basic chemistry lingo. What is important is to understand the impact of different fats on the body.

The higher-quality the fat, the better your body will function. That’s because the body uses the fat you eat to build cell walls. You have more than 100 trillion cells in your body, and every single one of them needs high-quality fat.

How do you know if your cells are getting the fats they need? Your body sends signals when it’s not getting enough good fats. It’s up to you to recognize the warning signs:

  • Dry, itchy, scaling, or flaking skin
  • Soft, cracked, or brittle nails
  • Hard earwax
  • Tiny bumps on the backs of your arms or torso
  • Achy, stiff joints

Why does the type of fat matter? Building your body from the inside out is just like building a house. You can frame the house with the cheapest stuff you can find or you can invest in quality materials that are going to be energy-efficient and last a long time.

Which Fats to Eat and Which to Avoid

If you want to settle for cheap and easy, stick with a diet of processed foods. Most processed foods are made with poor-quality omega-6 fats because they are abundant and cheap. Plus, fat makes food taste good and improves its texture.

Take a look at the ingredients of your favorite packaged food. If the list includes oils made from corn, soy, or safflower you are getting a sub-par fat. When the body puts these cheap fats to work, the cell walls are also sub-par. That means instead of flexible and responsive, cell walls are stiff and rigid. The more rigid the wall, the slower the cell functions and the more vulnerable it is to inflammation.

To ensure your body has the fats it needs to construct high-quality cell walls, you need to eat more omega-3 fats. For starters, cell walls made from omega-3 fats are flexible, allowing cells to respond more quickly to messages. Secondly, these “good” fats help the body churn out prostaglandins, hormones that put the kibosh on inflammation. The best places to find omega-3 fats include cold-water fish, organic canola oil, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and sea vegetables.

Your body is designed to run on high-quality fats. Scientists suspect that early humans ate almost equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats (back then most people got their omega-6 fats from seeds and nuts). But, as people began to refine oils from plants, the ratio became skewed more toward omega-6.

As a result of fats being out of balance in the modern diet, our bodies are more vulnerable to diseases such as cancer and heart disease. After all, when the human diet contained a balanced number of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, heart disease was almost nonexistent. Now cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the developed world.

3 Ways to Change Your Oil

The process of rebuilding all the walls of your cells can take up to a year, so there’s no time to lose. Here are three ways to change your body’s oil:

  1. Eat more wild or sustainably raised cold-water fish. Aim for two servings a week. The best sources of omega-3s are wild salmon, sardines, herring, or small halibut. Of course, everyone is concerned about the sustainability and safety of fish. It’s important to know where your catch comes from.
  2. Buy omega-3 rich eggs. These are one of the few animal products that are low in toxins and high in quality fats that balance blood sugar. These eggs supply the body with DHA and don’t raise your cholesterol; just the opposite. Enjoy up to eight of these eggs a week.
  3. For good measure, take an omega-3 supplement twice a day with breakfast and dinner. Look for a reputable supplement maker that certifies its products are free of mercury and other contaminants. Choose a supplement with 500 to 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fats (a ratio of roughly 300 EPA and 200 DHA is ideal).
Practicing Physician, Scholar, New York Times Best Selling Author

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