As a “diet doctor,” I encounter misconceptions about fats every day—despite the progress we’ve made in nutritional research. Clearly, many myths persist. (Just look at the “fat-free” craze, which is still going around.)
In fact, I was recently in a grocery store, speaking with my friend about salad dressing. A woman came over and said to me: “That dressing would be better with grapeseed oil.” I was truly taken aback!
But rather than replying (it would be a long conversation, given how mistaken she was), I thought I’d do what I do best: Write to you about it here.
So, over the next few days, let’s go over the basic tenets of the “fats of life”. Today, we’ll start with a few key definitions…
Let’s not mince words here: Cholesterol is NOT the bad guy. It’s actually one of the body’s most critical defense molecules. Our brains (and other essential biological processes) actually require it to function properly.
Blood cholesterol helps repair arterial damage triggered by inflammation, excess insulin, homocysteine, toxins, free radicals, viruses, and bacterial. And it only becomes an artery-clogging liability when it’s oxidated by free radicals.
Approximately 80 percent of blood cholesterol is made by our bodies in the liver and other cells—regardless of what you eat. Your body just makes less if more cholesterol is consumed through diet (from animal foods). Or it makes more when your liver is confused by excess sugar.
To help protect and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, adopt a healthy, balanced diet… one that’s full of dietary antioxidants, like those found in fresh produce.
This is a type of blood fat. It’s also one of the body’s main forms of fat storage.
“Tri” means three and “glycerol” is a sugar alcohol. Since your body always needs to store enough energy for fuel to stay as efficient as possible, when presented with an excess, it will take three sugar molecules and pack them together to store in your liver.
Triglycerides increase through consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and trans fats. Having high triglyceride levels, in my opinion, is the most critical risk factor for heart disease, as it makes your blood thick and milky.
But again, the solution is simple: Omega–3 fatty acids (like those found in fish oil, for example) and a low-carb diet help to lower triglycerides.
I know—it seems crazy that I still have to address this issue. But people still believe dietary fat is a villain. So this is less a definition, and more a clarification of why the fat-free craze is SO misguided.
Fat itself is not a problem—but depending on the quality and type of the fat, it can become one.
Most fats are actually good for us. As I mentioned above, fats are essential for brain development. (Your brain is 60 percent fat, after all.) But they’re actually quite critical to life in general, as they help maintain hormone and thyroid balance, immune function, energy production, fertility, good eyesight, wound healing, oxygen uptake, maintaining metabolic rate, healthy hair, skin and nails—the list goes on.
But guess what? Removing fat from food not only strips away the healthy, beneficial stuff. Most “fat-free” convenience foods replace those fats with tons of added sugar, which is a health risk all by itself. (You know my motto: Sugar kills!)
So rather than opting for fat-free anything… just reach for fresh, whole foods—which indefinitely contain the right types of fats. I also recommend finding locally grown produce and meats, along with wild-caught fish and seafood, to help ensure quality as well.
These are unnatural fats made by hydrogenation—and they’re quite destructive to your health.
They damage cell membranes (which allow nutrients to enter cells and wastes to exit cells), aggravate the liver, and increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and Lipoprotein-a (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease). They also decrease HDL (“good”) cholesterol and increase triglycerides, insulin, and free radicals.
In other words, trans fats are the absolute worst type of fat you can consume. Unfortunately, they have also become one of the most common, because “partially hydrogenated” oils have been staples in virtually ALL processed foods due to their long shelf life.
Granted, they now have to be listed in the ingredients list. But anything under a single gram can be listed as zero. And needless to say, there’s plenty of potential for those “small” amounts to add up. (Yet another reason to stay away from ultra-processed Frankenfoods.)
Of course, today’s discussion is just the tip of the iceberg. So I’ll continue this little primer over the next few days. Hopefully, it will become your reference guide moving forward. (And perhaps you’ll even use it to help educate those around you, too!)
P.S. This Sunday, September 19th at 3:00 p.m. (EDT), I’ll be hosting my Combat Your Inflammation Summit. During this exclusive event, I’ll give you full details on how to eliminate this No. 1 cause of disease and aging… and ultimately transform your health! So please, click here to reserve your FREE spot today—you won’t want to miss this!