If you’ve been bombarded by all the misinformation regarding fat being bad for your body, you’ll be surprised to know there is “good” fat. In fact, fat in general is good for you-–and that includes saturated fat. There’s only one kind of fat that’s unhealthy–processed trans fats.
All Fats are Healthy Except One
Artificial trans fats come primarily from partially hydrogenated oils (PHO). Food manufacturers and fast food chains love to use these artificial trans fats in food production because they are cheaper and more convenient.
In 2013, the FDA determined that PHO are no longer Generally Accepted as Safe (GRAS) for human consumption.
Artificial trans fats have little nutritional value and even can increase a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke. Some of them do make the food sweeter and more palatable, but your body doesn’t benefit from them.
The Healthy Truth about Saturated Fat
Saturated fat-–yes, the one previously linked with raising bad cholesterol and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease–-is not really as harmful as we’ve been led to believe.
People who consume less saturated fat have as much risk of developing heart disease as those who consume a relatively large amount. In fact, even the association of cholesterol with heart disease is not true all the time.
Instead of listening to the hype-saturated media, you only need logical thinking to determine if this fat is really bad for your health.
In some cultures, people collectively live longer than average without paying too much attention to the individual components in the foods they eat. This is true in other parts of the world with people who eat freely without counting their fat intake. As ironic as it seems, these are people rarely have issues as stroke, heart attack, diabetes and clogged arteries that are common in Western cultures.
A large percentage of their calorie intake is from coconuts-–which are ninety percent saturated fat. But research shows that in both populations, cardiovascular disease, stroke and ischemic disease (reduced blood supply to tissues) are uncommon.
If ever there is anything that must be cut out of the human diet, it is refined carbs and sugar–-not fats.
For centuries, saturated fats have been in our diet, giving us the most vital energy sources and nutrients to keep our body functioning normally.
Plant-Based Sources of Healthy Fats
Promoting hormonal balance is one of the most essential proven benefits of healthy fatty acids. So what exactly are these benefits and where do you get them from?
The medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, in coconut oil are metabolized differently compared to long-chain triglycerides. It doesn’t take much work for the digestive tract to convert the MCTs into energy, which is made readily available in the form of ketones for the liver, brain and other vital organs.
The unique structure of coconut oil (a combination of MCTs, lauric acid and saturated fatty acids) also plays a direct role in boosting thyroid functions.
Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts are excellent sources of linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). These fatty acids are essential because they are obtainable only from food sources; they cannot be synthesized by the body alone.
Almonds and walnuts can increase adiponectin, a glucose-regulating and fat-oxidizing hormone. These nuts may play a role in weight loss as well as in sexual health because a low level of adiponectin in the body usually is associated with visceral obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Lignans, which inhibit excess estrogen, are abundant in pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds. The same seeds are also rich in zinc, which promotes hormone production.
Sunflower and safflower oils are high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid with possible benefits for weight loss and testosterone levels.
CLA are omega-6 fatty acids found primarily in animal sources. In a vegan diet, a sufficient amount of CLA for purposes of significant weight loss and testosterone enhancement may be possible only through supplements derived from plant-based sources such as pure safflower oil.
In a 2016 study, obese patients found that their condition improved after a significant period with CLA supplementation. This result appears to be in line with another study conducted in 2012 with obese Chinese individuals, whose body weight and body composition also were altered significantly after 12 weeks of CLA supplementation.
Algal oil is a direct source of DHA and EPA. These are two important omega-3 fatty acids that cannot be obtained from other sources except fish oil. But fish is not a plant-based source, and the risk of toxicity from metal and cadmium from deep sea fish sources is also a major concern.
In a purely vegan diet, the body may rely on its ability to convert alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) into EPA and DHA. But this conversion may prove to be not enough.
Olive oil is at the crux of the Mediterranean diet. People may disagree on a lot of things about fat, but surely no one would disagree about olive oil and its countless benefits, which are well-established.
The oleic acid in olive oil stimulates the release of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite. Olive oil is also a proven testosterone-booster.
In a study involving Moroccan men, the testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels of those who consumed extra virgin oil increased by 17.4 percent and 42.6 percent, respectively. The 42.6 percent increase in luteinizing hormones is significant because these hormones are responsible for stimulating the Leydig cell in the testes to produce more testosterone.
Red Palm Oil
Red palm oil contains saturated fats and MCTs, but it is also abundant in flavanoids and water-soluble antioxidants.
The carotenoids and tocotrienols in red palm oil are antioxidants that play a crucial role in men’s health. Carotenoids reduce one’s risk of prostate cancer and the tocotrienols can significantly induce hair growth in alopecia-related hair loss.
Tocotrienols also have neuroprotective properties that are not shared by other types of vitamin E.
Avocado oil is rich in folate, vitamin B and vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. These nutrients significantly promote hormonal balance with their respective properties.
The beta-sitosterols content in the plant sterols of avocado boasts anti-estrogenic properties. By blocking the estrogen receptors, the progesterone levels in women and testosterone levels in men are increased significantly.
Needless to say, almost everything we know about fat has been wrong all along. In fact, most fat sources mentioned above are part of traditional Mediterranean fare–-one of the best-known and healthiest diets in the world.