Horseman’s Health: Fat Can Be A Good Thing

Madalyn on horseWe all know that carrying around a lot of extra weight is not good for our health. Too much weight can put us at risk for heart disease, increased LDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems, and some types of cancer and diseases. Belly fat in particular breaks down into fatty acids, which goes into the liver and muscles. This leads to higher LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and higher levels of triglycerides. This results in insulin being less effective in controlling blood sugar, and can lead to insulin resistance. Blood sugar levels can then become unstable and fat and clots can get in the bloodstream. But there are times that fat is a good thing. That doesn’t mean you can start binging on donuts, cakes and cookies. The fats these types of foods contain are called trans-fats and these are the ones to definitely avoid. The fats that are good are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids. These not only have specific health benefits for you, but can also help you lose those belly bulges and the extra weight that isn’t healthy for you.

Avoid Trans-Fats
Before you can start avoiding trans-fat, you have to know where it hides. Meats and dairy products often have some naturally. The ones to really be concerned about though are the ones in fried foods, fast foods, junk foods, cakes, crackers, biscuits, cookies and any other foods that use shortening. Some margarines and non-dairy coffee creamers also have trans-fats. If you read food labels when buying products look for the words hydrogenated oils or fats, or partially hydrogenated fats, as nutrition experts like Kris Etherton, PhD, RD advise. This will help you cut them out a lot. Just reading the labels isn’t always as helpful as you might think though because food labels are allowed to list 0 grams if the product contains less than 0.5 grams. If you eat several products with that little amount, it can add up quickly. It may be better to avoid the types of foods you know are likely to have this type of fat and make your cookies, cakes and biscuits from scratch using healthier types of oils.

The Good Fats
Your body and especially your brain need a certain amount of good fats for energy, healing, keeping hormones balanced, to dissolve certain vital vitamins and as a natural anti-inflammatory. While avoiding trans-fats and keeping consumption of saturated fats down, make sure your diet includes monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids. All fats have calories, but research shows that adding monounsaturated fat foods to your diet such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, soybeans, flax and sunflower oil can help reduce buildup of plaque, support healthy blood circulation, keep blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels stable, and fight off inflammation and stress. And best of all experts like Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, authors of, Flat Belly Diet, say adding monounsaturated fatty acid foods in every meal can help reduce belly fat. The Institute of Medicine recommends that 20-35% of your calorie intake be foods with “good” fats.

Polyunsaturated fats such as found in fish and fish oils, bluegreen algae, nuts and seeds can help release fat, increase metabolism and the body can burn them faster than saturated types of fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that not only has lots of physical health benefits, but also is great food for your brain. Since the brain is 60% fat, the brain needs to be fed good fats to build synapses and dendrites, which are the connections between your neurons and for brain health in general. More specifically, the brain needs EPA and DHA omega-3’s. While omega-3 and omega-6 are both important fats for us, most Americans get way too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3. The correct ratio of these essential fatty acids is also important as the wrong ratio can lead to extra inflammation in the body which can result in various autoimmune diseases. The optimal amount is to get 3 to 4 times as many omega-3’s as omega-6’s and most Americans get 10 to 20 times as many of the omega-6’s as omega-3’s. This is because fast foods, processed foods and junk foods are often full of omega-6’s. A good way to insure you get the right ratio of these essential fatty acids is by taking AFA bluegreen algae which has the exact ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 that the body needs. The form of bluegreen algae with the cell wall removed is especially good for the brain as it allows the nutrients to pass through the blood brain barrier easier.

Digesting Your Fats
Along with avoiding unhealthy fats and adding healthy fats to your diet, it is important to make sure your digestive system is working well for you and helping you metabolize fat. Most of us don’t get digestive enzymes to help with this from our processed, long shelf-life designed and over cooked foods. Not getting enough enzymes to help with digestion can put extra stress on the pancreas, liver and spleen. Taking a high quality digestive enzyme supplement at mealtimes can give your digestive system the help it needs to metabolize fat, proteins and carbs. In between meals these enzymes are absorbed into the bloodstream and can help clean out stray food particles.

We don’t typically think of fat as being good and in most cases that is right, but remember that healthy fats are a must to keep your body and brain functioning at its best. So cut out the donuts and cookies, and start snacking on sunflower seeds and avocados instead. They are not only a good way to get healthy fats, but can help you lose weight when eaten in moderation, help you feel fuller so you don’t snack as much and also taste great.

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