Fats are the bad guys of nutrition, the most demonized of all nutrients. But are fats really that bad? Do they deserve all that bad press?Sure, a few fats do pose health risks, including saturated fats found in animal foods, and trans fats, which are synthetic fats found mostly in margarine, vegetable shortening and processed foods. These fats have been associated with an in-creased risk of heart disease. In addition, saturated fat has been implicated in prostate cancer, and trans fats in breast cancer. Fortunately, though, there are more good fats than bad ones. To understand the health im-portance of good fats, let’s start with a quick nutrition lesson. The Fats of LifeGood fats fall under a general clas-sification called unsaturated fats.
There are two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated and monoun-saturated fats. Oils such as safflow-er, sunflower, corn, soybean and fish oils, evening primrose oil found in Parrillo Evening Primrose Oil 1000™ are polyunsaturated fats. They are “essential fatty acids,” or EFAs for short. Required for normal body function, EFAs must be supplied by your diet since the body cannot make them on its own. From EFAs, your body synthesiz-es two other important fatty ac-ids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids, along with alpha linolenic acid, are referred to as omega-3 fatty acids, a term that describes their molecular struc-ture. You can also obtain EPA and DHA directly from cold-water fish, flaxseed and omega-3 enriched eggs (eggs from chickens fed fish meal or flax meal). Monounsaturated fats are plenti-ful in olive, canola and pea-nut oils; they are also found in shellfish and cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, hali-but, black cod and rainbow trout. With this background in mind, let’s take a closer look at 10 rea-sons to love fat.
1. Fat Provides EnergyDietary fat is a highly concen-trated source of energy. In fact, 1 gm of fat provides twice as much energy (calories) as 1 gm of carbohydrate or protein. Although your body prefers to run on glyco-gen (carbohydrate) for energy, fat serves as a good backup source.
2. Fat Is Required for the Pro-duction of ProstaglandinsThe essential fatty acids avail-able from good fats are converted into “prostaglandins” in the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemicals that regulate numer-ous processes, including blood pressure, normal blood clot forma-tion, blood lipids, immunity, inflam-mation in response to injury and many other vital functions. There are not-so-friendly prostaglandins in the body too, synthesized mostly from saturated fats. Fortunately, you can keep these prostaglandins at bay by cutting back on your in-take of long chain saturated fats.
3. Fat Acts as a Carrier for Cer-tain VitaminsFat helps your body transport, ab-sorb and store vitamins A, D, E and K, collectively known as the fat-soluble vitamins. You need vitamin A for a strong immune system, vitamin D to absorb cal-cium, vitamin E to protect cells, and vitamin K for normal blood clotting. Without adequate fat in your diet, you won’t get the maxi-mum benefits from these vitamins.
4. Fat Enhances the Flavor of FoodsAlthough fairly tasteless itself, fat imparts enticing flavor and aroma to foods, thus stimulating your ap-petite. You experience this every time you smell bacon frying or cookies baking.
5. Fat Can Protect Your HeartAlthough excess fat in the diet—mainly saturated fat—has been linked to heart disease, certain fats are heart protective. One is fish oil, which is composed of EPA and DHA. Fish oil reduces blood pressure, lowers triglyceride levels, prevents abnormal blood clotting and helps prevent heart arrhythmias. As few as two to three meals including fish a week have been shown to slash death from heart attack by as much as 50%.
The Parrillo Nutrition Pro-gram recommends fish as an excel-lent source of lean protein. Another heart-friendly fat is olive oil, a mainstay of diets in Greece, Italy and other Mediterranean coun-tries. You can enjoy olive oil on the Parrillo Nutrition Program. Stud-ies show that it increases the good HDL cholesterol and lowers the bad LDL cholesterol. Not coincidental-ly, Greek men enjoy the longest life expectancies of any group of peo-ple in the world, and the traditional Greek diet is thought to be one of the healthiest diets in the world.
6. Fat Defeats DepressionOne way to help chase away the blues is by supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids. By studying the differences between people who get depressed and those who don’t (a type of research known as psy-chiatric epidemiology), scientists discovered a link between omega-3 fats and mood. A Finnish study found that people with the highest fish consumption had the lowest rates of depression.
7. Fat Helps Treat ArthritisOne of the most promising uses of good fats, particularly those found in fish oil (and to a lesser extent, fish) has been in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a joint dis-ease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Generally, fish oil provides mod-erate relief from symptoms and makes patients less reliant on anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medications. The effective dose for arthritis relief appears to be 3 to 6 gm of fish oil per day. Another supplement fat that may be of help is evening primrose oil, which is found in Parrillo Evening Primrose Oil 1000™.
8. Fat Helps Fight CancerWhereas saturated fats seem to promote cancer, omega-3 fatty ac-ids appear to thwart it, mainly by slowing the growth and spread of tumors. Mounting evidence shows that omega-3 fatty acids protect against cancers of the breast and colon. In countries where fish con-sumption is high, rates of these cancers are low.
9. Fat Fights ObesityYes, you read that right—fat fights fat! When on a diet, you’re usu-ally told to slash dietary fat. But there is a fat that will actually help you burn body fat: medium-chain triglyceride oil, found in Parrillo CapTri® . We recommend using it as part of our own low-carb strat-egy for fat-burning. Because of its molecular structure, it digests in the body more like a carbohydrate. In fact, it is burned more quickly than carbohydrates and has almost no tendency to be stored as body fat. CapTri® is used to sustain en-ergy levels when lowering carbs or adding quality calories to your diet when trying to gain lean mass.
10. Fat Rejuvenates Your BrainFat makes up about 60% of your gray matter, and about one-third of that fat is DHA. Con-sidered a building block of the brain, DHA is required for nor-mal brain development, as well as for mental well-being. In fact, your brain cells take up DHA in preference to other fatty acids. For these reasons, researchers sus-pect that DHA may help prevent de-generative brain diseases such as de-mentia, memory loss and Alzheim-er’s.
A study conducted at Tufts University, Boston, discovered that a low level of DHA is a significant risk factor for these brain diseases.
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