Understanding Harmful Fats: Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are so essential, but we also need to recognize the HARMFUL FATS and eliminate them from our diet.
Some people cringe when they hear the word “fatty” or “fats”. They think of all the weight they will gain with fatty foods. But this need not be, if we understand which fats to take and which fats to avoid. In fact, when we take the good fats, it actually can help facilitate weight loss.
There are essential fats, and non-essential fats. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are called such because they are just essential. Yet many of us omit these from our dietary and take the non-essential kinds of fats instead. If we can only differentiate the type of fats we take—cutting out the killer fats, and take more of the healing fats, then we could reduce/reverse many unnecessary health problems.
What Are The Killer Fats?
Before I tell you what the EFAs are, let me share with you which type of fats are killer fats—fats that you need to avoid and cut out from your dietary.
Saturated Fats: Also called “hard fats” found mostly in red meat, animal fats, milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, and palm kernel. They are semi-solid to solid at room temperature. When consumed, these fats tend to clump together and form deposits, along with protein and cholesterol. They get lodged in our cells, blood cells and organs, leading to many health problems, including obesity, heart diseases, stroke, cancers of breast and colon.
Transfat: Transfat is man-made oil. By processing and refining vegetable oils, the structure of polyunsaturated oil is altered into hard fats that our body cannot use. This process is called hydrogenation. Margarine is an example that has gone through this process. When put under a microscope, the molecules of margarine is very similar to that of plastic! Do we want to eat this?
Most processed foods in the market are loaded with trans-fat: French fries, onion rings, fast (fried) foods, commercially baked cakes, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies, croissants, cereals, peanut butter, chocolate, potato chips and even ice creams.
Hydrogenated Cooking Oil
Most vegetable cooking oils fall under this category of unhealthy fats. Further, when it is used for frying, the high temperature oxidizes the oil, turning it rancid and toxic for the body. Many commercial restaurants and fast-food establishments repeatedly reuse the same cooking oil for deep-frying until it becomes dark and rancid. When ingested, this oil generates harmful free radicals that are carcinogenic (cause cancer) in the body.
Vegetable oils are originally nutritionally rich, but through the process of refining and processing to increase shelf life, the EFAs had been destroyed. The following are what we get when we purchase vegetable cooking oils off the supermarket shelves:
- Mass-produced oils are processed using very high temperature and pressure causing the loss of nutritional substances such as lecithin, vitamins A and E, minerals, chlorophyll. Together with these, the natural aroma is removed, rendering it bland and odorless.
- Petrochemical solvents are used to extract the oil from the seeds, thus residues of these chemicals may be included in the oils.
- Synthetic (man-made) anti-oxidants are added to preserve the shelf-life of the oils. When ingested, these cause degeneration of our cells, leading to degenerative diseases.
- The liquid oils are contained in transparent plastic bottles. The light that goes through these bottles continues to deteriorate whatever nutrition that is left of the oils.
Some examples of hydrogenated oils are from palm oil, safflower oil, sunflower seed oil, cotton seed oil and corn oil. Do not be deceived by the name which may sound “natural and healthy”.
Safer cooking oil to use are virgin olive oil for light cooking, and grapeseed oil for high heat cooking. These are usually contained in dark glass bottles to prevent oxidation. Oil easily get oxidized from exposure to air and light.
The Dangers of Killer Fats
Our body cannot use these trans-fatty acids, so they simply just sit around fatty tissues and around the body’s organs, blocking out the essential fatty acids. When this happens, it inhibits enzymes to work and interferes with prostaglandin production, causing havoc with blood pressure and normal platelet action.
Other problems that are caused by these harmful fats:
Cardiovascular diseases: The free radicals from ingestion of trans-fat irritate the walls of the blood vessels. When this happens, calcium is sent to soothe the irritation. However, when calcium arrives at the “scene” the presence of oxidants combine with the calcium, turn them into plaques that clog up the arteries. Clogging of arteries causes hypertension. When blood flow to the heart is stopped, a heart attack occurs. When blood flow to the brain is stopped, a stroke occurs.
Hormonal imbalance: A reckless diet of high carbohydrate, sugar, processed foods and trans-fat causes havoc to the production of hormones, rendering an imbalanced in hormones. Along with hormonal imbalance are many other symptoms like menstruation disorders in women, prostate problems in men and excessive hair loss.
Immune system: Trans-fat (heat-damaged fat) and poor eating habits block enzymes from doing its job of regulating EFA metabolism properly. This leads to the immune system breakdown and development of auto-immune diseases similar to lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Mental sluggishness: As our brain is largely composed of fat, the wrong kinds of fats ingested can induce the lipid rich parts of the brain to oxidize and break down. These harmful oils, whether hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, promote inflammation and deterioration of our brain cells.
Obesity: The saturated fat that we consume are stuffed into storage cells called adipose cells. These storage cells can well up to 1,000 times its own size so it is used to store up a big amount of fats. Saturated fats, which are flat, stack up easily in these cells, causing obesity, but not without a host of many other health problems.
Trans-fat And Cholesterol
The twentieth century diet is a good recipe for high cholesterol. Trans-fat is found in almost every processed food that you can purchase from the supermarket. We know that this type of fat can lower your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and increase your “bad” cholesterol (LDL).
Even though LDL (low density lipoproteins) are necessary for our body function, a high level of it in the presence of free radicals cause oxidation (inflammation) of the blood that contribute to the arterial plaque build-up and hardening of the arteries, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and aneurysms.
This video below explains the dangers of trans-fat very well.
How Do We Avoid These Killer Fats?
Governments are now aware of the dangers of trans-fat, and some governments have actually banned trans-fat in restaurant foods. However, it would not be totally eliminated from modern day diet. Most cooking oils are already damaged by processing; and in the name of economy, cheap oils will always still be used for commercial cooking.
The FDA rules that if a single serving contains more than 0.5 grams or more trans-fat then it must be listed on the Supplement Facts panel of the food packaging. So packaging may list trans-fat as 0 gram. But zero does not always mean zero as they most likely still contain 0.5 gram of trans-fat. And these are often also marketed as “reduced fat” or “zero fat” or “low fat”. Even 0.5 gram per serving quickly adds up.
Where possible, avoid these killer fats by:
- Avoiding fast foods and any commercially prepared food cooked in oil
- Avoiding processed foods
- Reading the labels¾look for “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” even though the label may say “trans-fat 0g”
Increase on your fruits and vegetables intake. Drink fresh juices regularly in order to supply your body with natural anti-oxidants that can help reduce the harmful oxidation caused by these dangerous fats.
Also, learn in the following pages about the essential fatty acids (EFAs) which can help you to reverse most conditions already damaged by the non-essential and harmful fatty acids.