Those of us raised in the 80’s and 90’s were taught that all fats are bad and that, to be healthy, we should eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet. Today that conversation has changed to “good” and “bad” fats and might leave some of us raised in the “No Fat Era” a little confused. Contrary to all the propaganda we have been inundated with, ALL natural fats play a specific, crucial role in our health (this does not include trans-fat, which is man-made). In infancy, brain and nerve tissue require fat to develop. They are crucial for maintaining the integrity of cell walls. The heart burns fat as its primary source of fuel. You need fat to absorb and utilize certain vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Fats, specifically cholesterol, is necessary for your body to produce the hormones it needs to function properly. Extremely low-fat diets can actually raise cholesterol levels. How can this happen? Your liver makes and uses cholesterol to produce bile. This bile’s sole purpose is to digest fats. When the bile digests fats the cholesterol is then able to be removed from the body in your stool. If you are not eating any fats, the bile, which is full of cholesterol, gets reabsorbed into the bloodstream while the liver continues to make more cholesterol to make more bile. This starts a chain of events that, over time, can cause high cholesterol levels in your blood, even while on a low-fat diet.
Fats are composed of fatty acids that combine to form two major categories: saturated and unsaturated. Simply stated, the classifications are based on the bonds between the carbon and hydrogen atoms in the chemical structure. These categories include the more recently discovered essential fatty acids that your body cannot manufacture and must get through the diet or supplementation. There are also trans-fats which are in a category all by themselves; they are not made by your body, but are made by man in a lab or manufacturing facility. A good rule of thumb is to get 1/3 of your daily calories from fat. Of that total, 1/3 should be saturated and 2/3 should be unsaturated. (There are exceptions to this ratio I will discuss later in this post.) NONE of your daily fat intake should come from trans-fats. Let’s look at all the types of fats so you have a better understanding of why you may or may not need them.
I want to start with trans-fat because, sadly, most Americans may be eating some every day without even knowing it. Trans-fat is man-made through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is used to harden liquid vegetable oils into solids at room temperature. This process is used to make margarine and vegetable shortening among other things. Trans-fat is believed to raise the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower the good cholesterol (HDL) levels. In 2006, the FDA required all food manufacturers to list trans-fat content on the nutrition label; however, the manufacturers were not required to say that a food contained trans-fat as long as the levels were less than 0.5 grams per serving. If you use multiple servings of margarine or shortening at a time, as most Americans do, you are getting a couple grams of trans-fat with your meals, even though the label may say it contains no trans-fat. In 2015, the FDA moved to ban trans-fats from all foods manufactured in the USA over the next three years. This is great, but margarine and vegetable shortening are still made from liquid oils that must be chemically altered to become solid oils. There are healthy, natural alternatives to these chemical-laden fats. You can choose real butter made with milk from grass-fed cows, like Irish Kerrygold Butter. Coconut and/or palm kernel oils are solid at room temperatures and are healthy substitutes for butter and shortening in recipes. My favorite is Nutiva Shortening made from organic Red Palm and Coconut oils.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and found mainly in animal products and a few vegetable products like coconut, and palm kernel oils. Animal products include dairy items like milk, cream, butter, and cheese, and fatty meats like beef, veal, lamb, and pork. The liver uses saturated fats to manufacture cholesterol for bile and hormones. Excessive intake of saturated fats can raise blood cholesterol levels, especially low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad cholesterol.” No more than 10% of your caloric intake should be from saturated fat. If your cholesterol levels are already elevated, even that level may be too high.
Unsaturated fats can be broken down further into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have gotten a lot of press lately because studies have shown that they may actually lower the total blood cholesterol level. One thing that is not mentioned is that large amounts of polyunsaturated fats actually lower the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good cholesterol” levels as well. Because of this and their high caloric content, polyunsaturated fats should not exceed 10% of your total daily caloric intake.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are found mostly in vegetables and nuts like avocado, olive, peanut, and canola. These fats appear to modestly reduce blood levels of LDL without effecting HDL in any way. Recommended intake of monounsaturated fats should be kept between 10-15% of total caloric intake. If you reduce your amount of saturated fats due to elevated cholesterol levels, monounsaturated fats is the category that should be increased to get 1/3 of your calories from fat daily.
Unsaturated fats are further broken down into two categories of essential fatty acids: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. “Essential” means that your body cannot make the fatty acid, and has to get them from the diet. Your body has the ability to make various fatty acids in the body, but it cannot manufacture certain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils like corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flax oil and wild-caught, cold-water, fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, white fish, bluefin tuna, and rainbow trout.
Since the 1900s, the intake of omega-3 fats have declined greatly while the intake of omega-6 fats has grown immensely. Our ancestors ate these oils in a one-to-one ratio. You only need to consume one teaspoon of omega-6 oils to meet your daily needs and the standard American diet includes much more than this. The average person today has a 10-year storage of omega-6 fats in their bodies. Many scientists believe that increasing the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s has led to many of the chronic diseases of aging we see today like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and depression.
The best way to increase your omega-3s is to eat wild-caught fish twice a week, substitute organic, cold-pressed canola oil in the place of other vegetable oils, and add uncooked, organic flax seed oil to salads and other uncooked meals. Omega-3s are very heat sensitive and break down at high temperatures. This means if you eat fish or oil that was cooked at high temperatures, you are not getting the amount of Omega-3s they originally contained raw. This makes getting the optimum amount of omega-3s every day very hard. That is why supplementation of omega-3s is so important; however, most fish oils and omega supplements sold on store shelves are rancid and actually increase inflammation in your body. Fish oil goes bad within hours of extraction. If you have ever taken a fish supplement and burped a “fishy” flavor, the fish oil was rancid. Adding therapeutic-grade essential oils to the fish oil soon after extraction keeps the oil from going bad and also facilitates absorption of the fatty acids in the digestive tract. That is why I only use and recommend Young Living’s OmegaGizeᶾ.
OmegaGizeᶾ combines the power of three core daily supplements-omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D-3, and CoQ10 (ubiquinone) from Kaneka Q10. These supplements combine with Young Living’s proprietary enhancement essential oil blend to create an omega-3, DHA-rich fish oil supplement that may support general wellness. Used daily these ingredients work synergistically to support normal brain, heart, eye, and joint health. Take four capsules daily, two in the morning and two in the evening for daily maintenance. Take up to 8 capsules daily for even greater health benefits.
Come back next week. We will be talking about the next core supplement, minerals!
*Our team of oilers, called Anointing Nations, made the resolution this year to commit to educating our team daily. “YL – It’s a Lifestyle” is a daily post that will be on our private Facebook group. I was asked to write weekly for this, so every Wednesday, I will focus on the YL Lifestyle and share how I live it daily with my family. If you would like to know how to get Young Living products, please message me or follow this link to my website for more information.
**All the statements, comments and photos on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All medical evaluations and decisions should be made by a licensed professional.