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Listing all posts from February of 2011. Show all posts.
  1. Demystifying fats and oils, part one

    The cholesterol scare has many of us thinking that animal fats are bad for us, that saturated fats are bad for us, that fat in general is bad for us. Many weight-conscious people fear fat for its high calorie count. However, the most serious health problem caused by fats and oils is from neither cholesterol nor calories—it is from rancidity and unnatural processing…

    The body does need fats to insulate us against the cold and to cushion our organs and hold them in place. We need fat in order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K prevalent in greens and other vegetables. Can you see how a fat-free salad dressing does not do you any nutritional favors?

    Fat plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and therefore in the maintenance of bone health. It is no coincidence that milk comes with a fair amount of fat in it, as do cold-water fish—both good sources of calcium. So fat-free or low-fat dairy products do not make much sense—we need fat for effective absorption of the calcium contained in these foods.

    Fat also nourishes our skin, hair, and nails and is important for proper brain functioning, especially in the developing brains of babies and children.

    Too much fat in our food can clog up our lymph system and compromise our immune system. The right amount of fat, however, slows down the digestion process just enough to allow effective absorption of nutrients. By slowing the speed at which carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, fat helps to stabilize our blood sugar level. This actually fosters weight loss.

    Another way that fats can help rather than hinder weight loss is through their role in the endocrine system. Our brain reacts to fat intake by producing a chemical called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK stimulates the liver to produce bile, which helps in the digestion of fat. CCK also gives us the message that we have had enough food—in essence, curbing our appetite. A bit of fat in the diet hastens a feeling of satiety and satisfaction with what we have eaten, actually permitting us to save calories by eating no more than we need.
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