Fat vs Fat - What you need to know?

We live in a world where low fat is considered healthy and it seems like people believe that they can have anything they want , as long as it is labeled low fat. But what is fat when it comes to our bodies? Do we need fat? What are the myths and truths about fat?
 I had to delve deeper in this subject when I started my "health" journey. For years I was told that canola oil and olive oil are the way to go when you are looking for healthy cooking oils, I was thought that butter is a fast way to heart disease and full fat dairy should be avoided. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving non fat milk to children as young as 1 year of age. Then I started educating myself about how our bodies work and I had to change the way I think about fats.

Why are fats important for our bodies?

  " Fats from animal and vegetable sources provide concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down nutrients absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition,they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E,and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes." (From"Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon) 
Simply said, the non fat milk you are drinking will not do you any good, even if it is fortified with tons of calcium and vitamin D. 

Good Fat vs Bad Fat
 This is where all the myths and truths are in play for our attention. Years ago the traditional diets included butter, tallow, lard, whole dairy products, olive oil, and some tropical oils like palm oil and coconut oil, where available. This period is also known for low levels of heart disease, autoimmune disorders and cancer. Hmm. Then science started meddling with tradition and streets smarts, and margarine and vegetable oils were born. With them came heart problems, obesity, clogged arteries and many other "common" for our time illnesses
So here are some of the myths:
  • Animal fats are full of saturated fat therefore they are bad for you health.   True and false. Butter, tallow, and even coconut oil ( non-animal fat) is full of saturated fats and that is not a bad thing. Saturated fats are important for our bodies. Saturated fat plays a vital role for the proper functioning of our cell membranes and for the proper absorption of calcium in our bones.They protect the liver from toxins and enhance the immune system. Saturated fats are needed for the absorption of essential fatty acids and since the body can not produce them on its own, but only absorbs them through food , this is a very important factor. Also, short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids, like butter and coconut oil , have antimicrobial properties and protect us against harmful bacteria in our digestive tract.
  • Vegetable oils promote healthier cholesterol levels in the body and protect us from heart disease. Let me first say that 99 % of oils like canola, corn, cottonseed, or soy , available out there are genetically modified. That alone convinced my husband, who is the skeptic in our family, that we need to stop using those immediately. If this is not enough for you, have this in mind, commercial vegetable oils are mostly extracted with the help of high heat and chemicals. This process causes them to go rancid and to form free radicals. We all know that free radicals can age our skin prematurely, but that is not all they do. They damage cell membranes and red blood cells, causing damage in DNA strands that can trigger mutation in the tissues and blood vessels. To top all of this, most of those oil go through the process of hydrogenation, during which the already rancid oils are mixed with tiny metal particles, usually nickel oxide. Add more heat , hydrogen gas, soap-like emulsifiers and starch. Then the oil is steam cleaned and bleached to give it a more appetizing color.I hope you are on you way to the fridge and are throwing that staff away right now! 
  • Cholesterol - We've all heard about good and bad cholesterol and the balance between them , that our body needs to function properly. Thankfully , this brought back the healthy , delicious egg into our diet. If cholesterol is still a dirty word for you, consider this. The body needs cholesterol to produce vitamin D, needed for healthy bones and nervous system, proper growth, muscle tone, insulin production and many more functions. Mothers milk is very rich in cholesterol, which helps babies develop proper brain function and nervous system. Cholesterol is also vital for the function of the serotonin receptors in the body. This is our "feel good " hormone and low levels of cholesterol are being linked to violent behavior.
This list can go on and on and I can bore you with facts. The point is - stick to traditional foods. My great grandparents were in their late eighties when they passed away. I have never seen them get a cold or take pills. They used full fat animal fats, pastured eggs, and pastured meat. I know it is hard for more modern families to go beyond the convenience of the grocery store and spend more money on food than they are used to. But think of it as preventive medicine, your own health insurance policy. It takes a little bit of research, sometimes no more than asking a neighbor. Look for local butchers or grocery stores. Check out your local health food store. Those are not for foodies and special dietary needs people anymore. Even some big chain grocery stores carry grass fed beef, organic meats and eggs, coconut oil, cold pressed quality olive oil. Experiment and be delighted. When we started buying pastured eggs, butter and grass fed milk, I ran out of the kitchen every five minutes to show my husband how golden the yolks are, or the thick cream forming on top of the milk. It is exciting!Have fun with it! And be healthy!

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