Healthy fats have many health benefits, especially for the mature body. Consuming healthy fats can literally preserve our brain and other organs, as well as help slow the aging process. They can help lower our risk for heart disease, prevent abnormal heart rhythm, lower blood pressure, and improve our mood and outlook on life. However, it’s important to choose quality fats over unhealthy ones.
Benefits of Healthy Fats
Fats are necessary for good health. They play a role in brain function, lubricating the body, and help break down fat-soluble vitamins. They can add a healthy sheen to the skin and give hair an added gloss. Not having enough of the right fats can cause health issues like depression and hormonal issues.
Types of Dietary Fats
Fats are divided into groups, including saturated and unsaturated fats, trans fats and Omega-3, Omega 6 and Omega 9. To make matters more confusing, we have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Here is a breakdown of each:
Saturated fats have wrongly been viewed as the villains of fats, mainly due to the misconception about cholesterol and heart disease. It all began with the flawed but infamous Seven Countries Study in the mid-1900s. The study included Finland, Greece, the US, Italy, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, and Japan to investigate links between coronary heart disease mortality and lifestyle factors, especially the intake of saturated fatty acids. The “diet-heart hypothesis” demonstrated that vegetable oils lowered total blood cholesterol levels by an average of 14 percent.
The problem was that this lowered cholesterol did not actually help people live longer. Instead, the lower cholesterol fell, the higher the risk of dying: 22 percent higher for every 30-point fall. Participants also failed to demonstrate having less atherosclerosis or fewer heart attacks. Another flaw in this research was the fact that they actually began with 22 countries, but the ones that didn’t fit the hypothesis were disregarded, reducing the study to only 7 countries.
With a political agenda and millions of dollars donated to the American Heart Association by the food industry producing vegetable oils and low-fat grain-based foods, the Seven Countries Study was hugely influential in new guidelines advising against eating saturated fat and arguing for the benefits of polyunsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fats were generally thought to be healthy and necessary for good health. These include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and may be found in seeds, vegetable oils, nuts, and some fish like salmon. Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fat found in foods such as fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
Other than vegetable oils, the main source of polyunsaturated fats are almonds, nuts, and seeds, all of which are high in an Omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid. Excessive intake of linoleic acid in the diet can serve as a signal for humans to start storing fat for the winter. Linoleic acid is an evolutionary signal to our brains that winter is coming, and you better get fat and insulin-resistant, so you can survive a lean winter. However, winter never comes for us because we always have food at the grocery store.
Trans fats are the worst for your health. They are liquid at room temperature, so food manufacturers add hydrogen to make them more appealing and spreadable. This turns it into a hydrogenated fat. This unnatural chemical alteration leads to increased internal inflammation, leaving you at risk for a host of diseases, and is a major contributor to heart disease. Some of these foods include margarine, fried foods, ready-to-use dough, vegetable shortening, coffee creamers, and most baked goods.
Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fats. There are three major ones called EPA, DHA, and ALA. These fats improve heart health, mental health, weight control, and can even help decrease fatty livers. These are necessary for optimal health. The best source is from eggs, seafood, and cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. Be careful with Omega 3 supplements, as fish oil in capsules can quickly become rancid and cause all kinds of health issues.
Omega 6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fats and essential to good health. These types of fats are found in walnuts, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and avocadoes. But they are also found in fast food, cured meats, and processed snacks. While the fat itself is necessary for good health, it is now believed that a proper balance is required of a 1:1 ratio of Omega 6 and Omega 3.
Learn About Other Holistic Strategies for Your Health
Depending on the type of diet you’re doing, your fat intake will vary. Fish and seafood should also be included in a healthy diet, thus providing a larger variety of healthy fats. In addition to this, you might want to add avocadoes, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, and ghee. If you’re looking for other holistic strategies to protect your health, check out the Age Defying Video Program.