Essential substances, including fats, must be ingested in optimum
quantities to build optimum health. Surveys show that the majority
of the members of affluent populations are obtaining too little
of many essential substances, leading to deteriorating health which
in turn leads to degeneration due to malnutrition and ultimately
kills two-thirds of the world's population. In fact, more than 70%
of people die from just three conditions that involve fatty degeneration:
cardiovascular disease (50%), cancer (25%), and diabetes (3%).
The fact is that some fats are absolutely required for health while
others are detrimental. If the right kinds of fats are ingested
in the right amounts and balances, they build our health and keep
us healthy. The wrong kinds of fats, the wrong amounts and balances
can cause degenerative diseases.
Fatty acids are part of the basic structure of dietary fats. Almost
all dietary fats contain a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated
and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The type of fatty acid that predominates
determines whether it is solid or liquid as well as its stability.
They are key building blocks of all fats and oils (lipids) both
in our foods and in our body. Fatty acids are also the main components
in neutral fats (triglycerides) carried in our blood, and stored
fat (adipose) which serves as an important source of energy.
Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products such as beef,
veal, pork, lamb, and ham as well as whole milk, cream, coconut oil,
and vegetable shortening.
Saturated fats are used by the body to make cholesterol. A high dietary
intake can raise LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) levels in the blood, increasing
your risk of heart disease.
It is recommended to limit your intake of saturated fats to less than
10% of your total daily calories.
Found mostly in corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils and certain
fish oils, these fats may actually lower your total blood cholesterol
levels. But they may also lower your good cholesterol (HDLs) and are
still high in calories. They should not exceed 10% of your total daily
Monounsaturated Fats These fats are found in olive, peanut,
and canola oils. It is thought that monounsaturated fats may reduce
LDLs (bad) without affecting HDLs (good). It is recommended that these
fats make up no more than 10-15% of your total caloric intake.
Trans-fatty acids occur when polyunsaturated fats are hydrogenated
to make margarine and shortening. While the jury is still out, it
is thought that trans-fatty acids behave much like saturated fats,
raising LDL cholesterol.
Essential Fatty acids (EFA)
Essential fatty acids are sources of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids
(technically categorized as polyunsaturated fatty acids). They include
linoleic and linolenic acids. The body must have these essential fatty
acids, yet cannot synthesize them itself. One of the main functions
of essential fatty acids is the production of prostaglandins which
are hormone-like substances that regulate many body functions. They
basically control every cell of the body on a second-by-second basis.
They are required for energy production and increase oxidation and
metabolic rate. Some of the many benefits of EFA's for the body are
reducing blood pressure, preventing inflammation, stimulating immunity,
reducing joint tenderness, and positively influencing HDL/LDL cholesterol
We are conditioned to think of cholesterol as the enemy, our bodies
do need cholesterol. In fact, much of our cholesterol is made in-house,
by the liver. People don't need to consume dietary cholesterol because
the body can make enough cholesterol for its needs. But the typical
diet contains substantial amounts of cholesterol, found in foods such
as egg yolks, liver, meat, some shellfish, and whole-milk dairy products.
Only foods of animal origin contain cholesterol.
Cholesterol is transported in the bloodstream in large molecules of
fat and protein called lipoproteins. Cholesterol carried in low-density
lipoproteins is called LDL-cholesterol; most cholesterol is of this
type. Cholesterol carried in high-density lipoproteins is called HDL-cholesterol.
LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol act differently in the body. A
high level of LDL-cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of fatty
deposits forming in the arteries, which in turn increases the risk
of a heart attack. Thus, LDL-cholesterol has been dubbed "bad" cholesterol.
On the other hand, an elevated level of HDL-cholesterol seems to have
a protective effect against heart disease. For this reason, HDL-cholesterol
is often called "good" cholesterol.
Body fat (fat present in the cells of adipose tissue) is probably
the fat that most people are familiar with. Body fat is vital to daily
body functions. It cushions the joints and protects the organs, helps
regulates body temperature, stores vitamins and helps the body sustain
itself when food is scarce. However, serious health risks have been
associated with both too much and too little body fat.
The following table describes body fat ranges and their associated
Body Fat Percentages