Good Fats & How To Get Them

Thanks to the low fat diet craze, everyone is scared to death to eat or talk about FAT. What gets forgotten, or at least ignored, is the critical role it plays as a structural component of all cell membranes, among thousands of other important biological duties. The good news is, Americans get plenty of fat in their diets; however...

The problem is … it’s the wrong kind! Epidemiological surveys show Americans are malnourished on the good fats, the essential fatty acids (EFAs), and are overloaded on saturated and trans fats, which are associated with a host of diseases and really don’t play any important role in the body except to be burned as energy.

Disturbingly, the average intake of trans-fatty acids is about 12 grams per day in the U.S.—about 10 percent of our total fat intake, according to dietary fat expert Dr. Udo Erasmus. This deadly fat is abundant in foods like margarine, shortening, snack foods (Oreos) and most fast foods. And as reported recently from the Harvard School of Public Health, they double the risk of heart attack, increase diabetes and kill at least 30,000 Americans every year.

“These damaged oil molecules are intimately involved in the cell, including in gene activation and gene repression—do you think they might affect the way your genetic program functions?” Dr. Erasmus asks. “The answer is a big yes. That’s scary stuff.”

What do I do: Dr. Erasmus believes we should work to completely eliminate trans-fatty acids from our diets. Even small amounts can lead to big problems, he says. “You can usually tell that a food contains trans-fatty acids if the term ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ is on the label,” Dr. Erasmus says. “As we like to say, ‘If you see the H-word on the label, then get the H out of there.’” Replace these fats and saturated fats (the artery-clogging crud found in fatty beef, creams and cheese) with health-promoting essential fatty acids. Besides contributing to optimal cell function, these fats promote healthy skin and hair and speed up your metabolism. Good sources include cold-water fish such as salmon, walnuts, ground flax seeds or flax seed oil, hempseed oil and safflower.

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