Slash risk of coronary heart disease with healthy fats
(NaturalHealth365) If asked about one of the very best foods to consume in order to lower cholesterol, reduce abdominal fat and decrease the risk of heart disease … it’s unlikely that most people would say: healthy fats. But, if you did say it, you would be correct … despite the “wisdom” of conventional thinking.
In truth, there is a lot of scientific research which demonstrates that there is no link between the consumption of “healthy fats” and the risk of developing serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease or cancer. Generally speaking, to avoid disease, the smarter choice is to focus on reducing our toxic burden and improve the quality of our diet – in every way imaginable.
The truth behind healthy fats
Conventionally-trained nutritionists tend to warn us that saturated fats and trans fats are unhealthy, and can raise levels of harmful LDL cholesterol. Of course, trans fats, or highly-processed (heated) vegetable oils should be avoided at all costs. But, are we being told the whole truth about healthy (saturated) fats?
The truth is: we can find healthy fats from flaxseed, coconut, hemp and olive oil. These oils contain varying amounts of the omega-6 polyunsaturated acid known as linoleic acid – which has been shown to have health-promoting qualities. And, yes, in moderate amounts, grass-fed meats or organic eggs are also a good source of healthy fats.
Wait a minute! What do the “experts” say about fat?
While past studies have indeed linked linoleic acid-rich diets with inflammation in animals, some researchers are beginning to state that these results don’t hold true for humans, who respond to fats differently. Of course, quality (and quantity) does matter – whenever talking about the risk of disease, as it relates to your diet.
So, do the “experts” advise against eating fat?
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health points out, “rather than adopting a low-fat diet, it’s more important to focus on eating beneficial “good” fats and avoiding harmful “bad” fats. Fat is an important part of a healthy diet.”
And, the Mayo Clinic says, “you don’t need to eliminate all fat from your diet. In fact, some fats actually help promote good health. But it’s wise to choose the healthier types of dietary fat and then enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.”
Bottom line, although it’s taking a long time to clear up, fat is not “bad” for you. But, toxic (highly processed) fats like, vegetable oils found in cookies are no good! I think you get the idea. Like we stated before, quality and quantity matters when it comes to food and your health.
Considered the “queen” of healthy oils: Is it really o.k. to consume olive oil?
A staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, olive oil has generous amounts of both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids – both of which are beneficial. Monounsaturated fatty acids lower LDL cholesterol while raising levels of healthy HDL cholesterol.
In addition, they help to regulate blood clotting and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Olive oil is also rich in vitamin E, an important antioxidant vitamin that can scavenge destructive free radicals and decrease disease-causing oxidative stress. In addition, it contains powerful anti-inflammatory polyphenols such as oleuropein and oleocanthal.
In a randomized controlled trial published just this week in Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers found that extra-virgin olive oil – when used as part of the Mediterranean diet – can help reverse metabolic syndrome, a collection of unhealthy conditions that raises risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is indicated by excessive belly fat, low levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high levels of blood sugar and triglycerides.
Controlling your body weight: “Healthy” fat diets are better than “low-fat” diets
Participants in the olive oil group decreased their obesity and blood sugar levels at a much greater rate than those in the control group, which was counseled to eat a low-fat diet. In fact, close to a third of the olive oil group completely reversed their condition, and could no longer be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome by the end of the 4.8 year follow time period.
With roughly 33 percent of all Americans currently affected by metabolic syndrome, the good news about olive oil is particularly significant.
When it comes to oils that feature polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is the balance between the omega-3 and omega-6 acids that helps to determine their healthiness. Natural health experts tell us that both flaxseed oil and hemp oil contain optimal balances of PUFAs. Both of them feature an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which has been shown to decrease inflammation.
The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that research shows a lower incidence of fatal heart attacks in people who eat a diet rich in ALA, and adds that ALA may even reduce the risk of heart arrhythmias, and – by decreasing the adhesiveness of blood platelets – cut the risk of a stroke as well.
For maximum health benefits, look for organic hemp and flaxseed oils that are labeled “high oleic.”
Coconut oil and the surprising effects on your health
Don’t forget the coconut oil, which imparts a light, delicious coconut flavor to recipes when used as a cooking or salad oil. This healthy oil boosts immunity, promotes good digestion, supports healthy thyroid function and fights abdominal fat.
It also increases levels of healthy HDL cholesterol, and helps to spur the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone – which in turn assists in the creation of important hormones. In a double-blind clinical study published in 2009 in Lipids, researchers found two tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks promoted significant loss of abdominal fat in the study participants.
Isn’t coconut oil high in harmful saturated fat?
Although most of coconut oil’s fat is indeed of the saturated variety, many natural health experts point out that much of this fat consists of medium-chain fatty acids, which have not been implicated in chronic diseases in the same way longer-chain fatty acids have been.
Coconut oil proponents also point out that this tasty tropical oil is good for use in cooking, as it withstands relatively high temperatures without breaking down – up to about 350 degrees.
Are there any vegetable oils I should avoid?
Yes. Canola, soy and corn oils, despite their otherwise beneficial content of linoleic acid, are notorious for their content of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Unless you want to up your intake of genetically manipulated ingredients, these oils should be avoided.
So, how much fat is enough?
Of course, the recent research doesn’t suggest that you should guzzle down vegetable oils in unlimited quantities. Even with “healthy fats” … moderation is the key.
Experts say that consuming between two and four tablespoons of fat per day should be sufficient to achieve adequate linoleic acid levels in the body. In other words, a couple spoonfuls of coconut oil is good … but, a 24 oz. steak would be too much!
On a more serious note: according to the American Heart Association, fats – which universally contain nine calories a gram – should make up no more than 20 to 35 percent of your total calories. Although, some people may require more – depending on personal lifestyle habits and medical health profile.
And, it is not just cooking and salad oils that offer up healthy fat. You can also snack on whole organic foods that are rich in these good fats, and treat your body to healthy quantities of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants galore.
For example, try eating organic avocados, some olives, and crunchy, satisfying sprouted nuts such as walnuts or almonds. And, don’t forget the health benefits of seeds like, sesame or pumpkin.
To sum up, we need to stop demonizing all fats. Our body needs healthy fats to help absorb fat-soluble nutrients. Naturally, if you’re concerned about your health (and need help with your diet) – seek the advise of a trusted, integrative healthcare provider and keep reading NaturalHealth365.
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