Journey to Wellness: The Skinny on Fats
“The fat you eat is the fat you wear.” – Dr. John McDougall
This has always been one of my favorite quotes. I first heard it three years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. The average American eats 30 – 40 percent of his or her daily calories from fat, with about 15 percent consisting of saturated fats. It should then come as no surprise that we continually battle the bulge and swallow our statins. Over the last 30 years, childhood obesity has tripled. Today, over two-thirds of adults are overweight and over half are obese.
Fats play an important role in our bodies, so I’m not telling you not to consume them. However, the amount and type of fat you consume is important to understand. Dietary fats are divided into two types. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and these mostly come from animal products. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and mostly come from plants. Of all the fats we consume, there are only two essential fatty acids that we need. That’s it! Those include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Our bodies can make the rest.
The adequate daily intake of omega-3 is 1.1 grams per day for females and 1.6 grams per day for males. Just by consuming a quarter cup of walnuts per day, you obtain 2.7 grams of omega-3 and 11.1 grams of omega-6. Aiming for a ratio of 4:1 for omega-6 to omega-3 helps maintain an appropriate balance in our bodies. Maintaining the correct balance is important because omega-6 and omega-3 compete for the same enzymes in our bodies during the conversion process. Too much omega-6 will squeeze out omega-3 at the receptor sites creating an imbalance, which contributes to heart disease, cancer, inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
Many individuals are interested in the Mediterranean diet and the health benefits of olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is healthy despite, and not because of, olive oil. Although olive oil may be a better choice for oil high in saturated fat, it does not make it healthy. In truth, olive oil still raises cholesterol levels and damages our blood vessels. Coconut oil is more than 90 percent saturated fat and has the same detrimental effects as eating butter, so it is not a healthy option either.
When it comes to cooking, use no-oil options. Here are a few tips.
1) Start with non-stick pans
2) Use non-fat liquids to sauté with, such as vegetable broth
3) Cook with oil-free sauces such as tamari, BBQ, teriyaki or tomato
4) For baking, utilize fruit, pumpkin or tofu in place of oil, butter or margarine