It is wrong to say that we should eat as little fat as possible. Fat is good, and it is bad for our health to not get enough. A lack of fat can be a cause for obesity, and essential fatty acids are at least as important as vitamins. Fat is not just fat – there are good and bad fats. What is important is to get enough of the good fats, and a balanced ratio between them. Getting enough of the good fats is one of the most important rules for a healthy diet.
Fat is good, and it is bad for our health to not get enough.
Types of fatty acids
The most important types of fat are: – Monounsaturated fat, for example olive oil, omega-9 – Polyunsaturated fat – omega-6 and omega-3 – Saturated fat – Trans-fat – created from vegetable oils in the process of hydrogenating (margarine), and is an unnatural form of fat that contributes to illnesses. The two first types are fluid while the second two are solid. A good rule of thumb is to stick to fluid types of fats as much as possible. Some of the fatty acids are called essential because we cannot produce them ourselves, but they are essential to our health, both physically and mentally. Usually we get too little omega-3 fatty acids relative to too much omega-6 fatty acids. Originally, in prehistoric times, we got more omega-3 (from fish) through our diet. Today we get considerably more omega-6 than omega-3. The ratio should be at least 1 omega-3 to 4 omega-6. The ratio is today assumed to be generally at only about 1 omega-3 to more than 15-20 omega-6.
The need for fat
Fatty acids are extremely important for all the body’s cells, vision, hormone formation, repairing nerve damage and thus for the entire development and function of the brain. They are also the raw material for i.a. the substances that affect the blood’s ability to coagulate and for the muscular cells’ ability to contract. The brain’s fat is mainly (60-70 %) comprised of the fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can be gotten from fish oil. Just like phospholipids, fatty acids can be found in the cell walls where they are responsible for the cells’ flexibility, mobility and ability to absorb. There are also sterols such as cholesterol, necessary for the production of new cell membranes and for the production of vitamin D3 and hormones, in the blood and in the cell membranes. Cholesterol is essential to us, and we should therefore not strive to have as little cholesterol as possible. Even the so called “bad” LDL cholesterol only becomes bad after it is oxidized by free radicals, making the LDL cholesterol turn rancid. LDL cholesterol is in itself an antioxidant, important for, among other things, repairing arteries. It is also from LDL cholesterol that we are able to produce many of our hormones. We need to make sure we have a balanced, healthy diet and to make sure we get enough natural antioxidants.
Refraining from smoking and eating the right types of fat is one of the most important ways to prevent cardiovascular diseases. It has been shown that saturated fat is not alone the cause for cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol etc., but that it is important to balance the fatty acids so that we get enough of the healthy fatty acids found in olive oil, fish, avocado, linseed oil, almonds, nuts etc. Fat is an important source of energy which, when metabolized, gives more than double the amount of energy than proteins and carbohydrates, but we do not use all the fat we eat for our metabolism. If we want to remain healthy and vital, we need the essential fatty acids.
Oil used for nutrition should be pure and of documented high quality regarding low levels of dioxins and heavy metals. Fatty acids can also be damaged, oxidized by light or oxygen, or altered through strong heating such as the roasting or pressing of seeds or olives at high temperatures. This is why oils should be kept in dark and closed bottles, and stored in a cool place. Olive oil is the exception, and it can be kept at room temperature, as it contains so many plant substances that counteract oxidization. Saturated fatty acids such as coconut oil and butter are the ones that can best withstand heat. For frying at high temperatures coconut oil is a great alternative, since it contains the energizing medium-chain triglycerides – MCTs. Eqology’s Pure Arctic Oil – when used as recommended – will ensure your body gets the amount of omega-3 it needs to optimize the condition of your health.
Fat for the mind
DHA – Docosahexaenoic acid – is the omega-3 fatty acid that has the most powerful effect on the brain, including the retinas. Fish oil is the best source of DHA, but also EPA, linoleic acid and monounsaturated fatty acids are good for the brain. For example olive oil has been shown to be beneficial for the memory. A fetus’s brain does not develop properly if the mother does not get enough of the healthy fatty acids during her pregnancy. The essential omega-3 fatty acids have a great importance in transferring signals from one neuron to another, and have also been shown to help against depression and mania. Fish oil also seems to be able to curb aggression and be beneficial in cases of schizophrenia. According to a study done at the University of Göterborg, Sweden, omega-3 fatty acids can also help restless children and children with behavioral difficulties such as ADHD. Too much saturated fat in relation to unsaturated weakens the brain and impairs the ability to learn. Hydrogenated fats (margarine) are not good either, the same with trans fats and too many vegetable oils with omega-6 fatty acids such as corn oil, soy oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil etc. Fat is good, but it needs to be the right type, there needs to be a balanced relationship between the types of fatty acids, they must be of high quality and correctly treated.