This will be a series of posts on this topic in order to keep them short enough not to overwhelm anyone, yet give you thorough information to begin making positive changes in the way you feed your family.
Did you know if you are depriving your toddlers of fats that you are doing an incredible amount of damage to their growing brains and body? Did you know that if you are not offering them the right kind of fats that you are setting them up for health and learning challenges?
Did you know that fats make up to 60% of our brains? Like protein makes our muscles and calcium our bones, fats make our brain. But not any fat. We need a special fat, DHA (one of the omega-3 fatty acids), that it is the major component of our brain tissue.
That said, is very simple to understand why if we don't supply our body with enough omega-3 there is going to be some unbalance in our brain chemistry. Therefore, in our brain function.
In that case, Omega-3 deficiency, instead of DHA our body uses whatever fats are available to work with: Omega 6 and Trans Fatty Acids.
If you don't have much DHA in your blood, man-made trans-fat molecules may be used as the brain construction material, instead. But trans-fats (hydrogenated oils) are shaped differently than DHA: they are straight while DHA is curved.
If you repeat the scenario every day, you may end with depression, failing memory, bad moods. Do this to developing brains and you have children having difficulties learning, behavior problems in class. Their neurons have faulty connections with no omega-3 but Trans fats.
Thus our need to take omega-3 supplements - our modern nutrition has 20 to 50 times less omega-3 than what we need in order to keep us healthy. Basically all processed food is full of pro-inflammatory omega-6 (all grains, carbohydrates, sugars, sodas, etc). We have too much omega-6 in our diet. The only way to counter balance this is to take the right amount of omega-3 supplements; and adding them into our diet through fish and flaxseeds. Our family drinks hempseed milk too - which is a high in omega-3.
Note: Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats needed for good health. They must be consumed from food because our bodies do not produce them on its own. There are two types of essential polyunsaturated fats: omega-6 and omega-3.
Did you know if you are eating a diet where you deprive yourself of fat, then you are slowly killing yourself? If you are like most humans, you can't control your craving for sugar. Nor can you stop yourself from wanting bread, pasta, cereal, bagels, pretzels, popcorn, coffee, soda or chocolate to lift your mood. While these may very well do that for the short run, they are hurting you more than you realize in the long run.
People who eat refined carbohydrates or other processed foods often do not realize that when they crave a treat, they would be more thoroughly satisfied by a high-quality fat, not the carbs they always use to stifle the body's cries for fat. They also do not realize that hunger is generally more completely satisfied by high-quality fats rather than refined carbohydrates.
Why would we crave fat, when the processed food industry and medical profession have told us for so long that it is bad for us? This might have something to do with it: the brain is mostly made up of fat. As Dr. Walter Crinnion, a naturopathic medical doctor and pioneer in the emerging field of environmental medicine at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Ariz., says, "We're all a bunch of fatheads!"
The most desperately needed nutrient for growth and development of the brain from mid-pregnancy through infancy and childhood especially (but for adults also) is the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and freshly ground organic flax seeds.
Fats that come from plants, not animals, are better for heart health.
Fats to avoid
- Trans fat: An artery-clogging element of partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats are found in many fried foods, commercial baked goods, and stick margarine. These fats increase your LDL (bad cholesterol) while lowering your HDL (good cholesterol), weakening your natural defenses against heart disease. Harvard researchers have estimated that banning trans fats from the American diet could prevent some 228,000 heart attacks each year.
- Saturated fat: While it isn't quite as destructive as trans fat, saturated fat is much more abundant. The saturated fat in meat or dairy products encourage a buildup of plaques in the arteries by increasing LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood. A recent study found that saturated fat also inhibits the anti-inflammatory benefits of HDL (good cholesterol), while fats from fish, grains, and nuts boosted it. There are a few healthy saturated fats which we will discuss in later posts - coconut and palm oil. They have received a bad rap and we need to understand the truth to be set free from the lies told to us.
- Unsaturated fats: The types of fats found in olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocados, and fish can actually clear LDL while boosting HDL. A study by Harvard and Johns Hopkins researchers found that swapping a diet high in carbohydrates for one that's high in unsaturated fats improved the cardiovascular profile of 164 adults over a six-week period. The unsaturated fat diet decreased blood pressure, increased HDL, caused no significant increase in LDL, and lowered triglycerides.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in cold-water fish, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure, and slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Large studies suggest that this fat can lower the risk of heart disease by more than 35% and can reduce the risk of sudden death from heart attack by more than 50%.
It has taken 20 years of fad diets for us to realize that not all fats are bad. In the 1980's, fat-free diets (which meant high carbohydrates) were promoted as the way to get thin. As a result Americans actually got fatter and significantly unhealthier. Then in the 1990's, high protein (which meant high fat) became the rage. Which caused many to suffer heart disease and other serious health challenges.
No matter where I researched this topic, all true nutrition experts agree drinking more water and eating more fresh raw green vegetables are vital to your health. The third most important addition to any diet to fight and prevent disease and live longer is fish oil. More specifically, fish oil in the summer months and cod liver oil in the winter months when we can't spend as much time outdoors.
The main difference between fish oil and cod liver oil is that cod liver oil is high in vitamin D. The cod liver oil has the advantage of providing vitamins A & D, which is necessary for most of us in the United States in the cold months of winter when we don't get enough sun exposure on our skin in order to make vitamin D. So if you live in a climate where you are able to enjoy the sunshine on a daily basis, it is best to stick with fish oil supplements because if you overdose on vitamin D, studies show you can actually cause hardening of your arteries and osteoporosis as it causes a reverse effect. The same thing happens when we eat a diet overwhelming filled with dairy – yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc. Fish oil supplements are a great way to add the healthiest fats to your diet. If you don't care for fish, or are worried about eating too much fish because of the toxins and heavy metals they absorb, then you should try a high-quality fish oil supplement by either Nordic Naturals or Carlson’s. The best advice I can give you is to avoid corn, sunflower, soy, safflower, and canola oils or products that contain these oils. These oils are overabundant in the typical diet, which explains our excess omega-6 levels. It is best to avoid or limit these oils. This means no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, no margarine, shortening or vegetable oil, as they are all full of omega-6 fats and trans fatty acids. You want to emphasize high quality extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocados. Omega-3 is typically found in flaxseed oil, walnut oil and fish oil.
You don't need to be concerned with the quantity of fat in your diet; rather you need to be concerned with the TYPE!
Next: Monounsaturated fats help to reduce the risk of heart disease. They are found in vegetable oils such as canola and olive oil and in products made using these oils. They can also be found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives.
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