Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is it True That...All Fats are Bad For You? Your Daily Myth Busted

Quick: Check your skin, hair and nails - are they dry? If you answered 'yes' then you may not be getting enough of the right kinds of fats. While it is most definitely true that saturated and trans fats should be avoided at all costs, there are indeed some fats that your body needs for optimal performance.

Did you know that all of your cellular membranes are composed of lipids? Your brain is also swimming in a fatty material known as myellin. When you consume the right kinds of fats, your body breaks them down and uses them as building blocks to keep your brain sharp and your system in top shape. Deprive yourself of good fats and you are just asking for bad things to happen.

So...what are the "good" fats? Unsaturated fats! Within this category are the essential fatty acids (EFAs) that you often hear about - Omega-3's and omega-6's. These are fats that your body cannot produce on it's own and they need to be consumed in the diet. EFA's can have the beneficial effect of raising your HDL level (the "good cholesterol") and lowering your LDL level ("bad cholesterol").

The reason why fats get such a bad wrap is that they pack a whopping 9 calories/gram, which is more than double that of proteins and carbs (each have 4 calories/gram). Eat a combination of the following foods sparingly each day and you will be in top shape.
  • Avocados
  • Olive oil (in cooking and on salads)
  • Oily fish: salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
  • Seeds - flax seeds are among the best sources
  • most nuts (ONE closed handful of almonds or walnuts per day is all you need)