Thursday, June 23, 2016

There Are Fats and Then There Are Fats

The word "fats" often gets a bad rap. There are certainly bad fats to stay away from such as transfats which increase our LDL cholesterol levels, lower our HDL cholesterol levels and boost our triglycerides level, but our bodies and brains in particular need some types of fats to be healthy.

Bad Fats
There are bad fats which many of us in the United States get way too much of in our diets. These would be fats that fall in the transfats and saturated fats categories. These types of fats negatively affect our cholesterol, cause a buildup of fatty deposits in arteries and contribute to the risk of heart disease and diabetes. They also can add to an inflammatory state in the body and suppress your immune system function. Transfats are found in meats and dairy, but the very worst type comes from hydrogenated oils. These oils are in most types of baked goods such as cookies, cakes and donuts, as well as many processed foods like crackers, chips, and margarine, and fried, fast and junk foods. To avoid these types of fats in your diet, stay away from fried foods and processed foods that contain transfats and saturated fats. When eating meat, look for lean cuts of beef with fat trimmed off and eat more meats such as fish and poultry. Be sure when eating chicken to take the skin off before cooking since it has a lot of saturated fat. You can also go meatless for some meals to really cut out these types of fats and substitute beans as a protein alternative.

Good Fats
The good fats that can actually help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, help control weight, reduce blood sugar levels, increase metabolism, reduce inflammation that leads to clots that can cause heart attacks, reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These "good" fats are needed by the body for it to function properly such as to dissolve certain vitamins that are vital for a healthy body. Nuts like almonds and pistachios, peanut butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and canola oil and avocados are good sources of monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are found in coldwater fatty fish like wild caught salmon, sardines, mackerel and halibut, and fish oils, bluegreen alage, nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that has many benefits for physical and mental health. Diets high in omega-3 have been shown in research to lead to a lower risk of dementia and stroke, and slower mental decline and enhanced memory as we age. Omega-3s can be found in chia seeds, dark-green leafy vegetables, avocados, various seeds, nuts, and flax and olive oil.

Omega-3 Versus Omega-6
Essential fatty acids are a necessary part of cell membranes and for our brains to function properly. They have to come from food sources as our bodies do not make them naturally. We need both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids for good health. The problem is that we are genetically evolved from diets that are higher in omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids, but today's diets have a reversed ratio of these. The typical diet in this country has a much higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, fourteen to twenty-five times more, which leads to higher risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and inflammatory states in the body. Some amount of omega-6s are necessary for growth of hair and skin, to keep bones healthy, in regulating metabolism and for their role in the reproductive system. There are also types of omega-6 that don't promote inflammation like many of them do. Linoleic acid for example becomes gamma-linolenic acid in the body and is then broken down to arachidonic acid and can be used to reduce inflammation. GLA has been found to actually help with allergies, eczema, high blood pressure, diabetic neuropathy, and osteoporosis. The trick is to get a good ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. In general to be healthy, you need 3 to 4 times as many omega-3's as omega-6's. Eating a diet such as the Mediterranean diet without a lot of meat and that concentrates mostly on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil is one way to get the right ratio. According to Jeffrey Bruno, PhD., microalgae is the primary source of essential fatty acids in the food chain containing EPA (eicosapentaenoic), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Adding AFA blue-green algae is one of the simplest ways to get the right ratio of fatty acids because this form of algae has the exact ratio of fatty acids the human body needs. The form of AFA with the cell wall removed is an especially abundant source of raw materials for enhancing activity in the brain with nutrients that can pass through the blood brain barrier and are necessary to feed the brain. AFA also has all the essential amino acids in a proportion nearly identical to that found in human breast milk, making it a complete and assimilable source of high-quality protein.

So don't avoid fat in your diet, just make sure you get the right types of fats. Your body and in particular your brain need those good fats. You just need to watch your diet and the ratio of the types of fats you are eating to support good health.

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Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega6-fatty-acids
http://chriskresser.com/how-too-much-omega-6-and-not-enough-omega-3-is-making-us-sick
Edible Microalgae, Jeffrey Bruno Ph.D.

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