Fats and oils are essential to optimal health. They are important building blocks for the cells of your body, as well as for key hormones. Just as with all foods, you must consume high-quality fats and oils for your body to effectively use them.
The number one fats that you want to avoid are the trans-fatty acids. Margarine and butter substitutes are notorious for high levels of trans-fats. Also you must be careful because some oils and fats break down when they are heated and are just as bad for you in that form as trans-fats. Some processed foods that claim to have been made with no trans-fats might still be unhealthy.
Essential fatty acids are fats that our body cannot manufacture, and thus must be consumed. Most foods in the standard American diet have much more omega-6 fatty acids than omega3’s. Higher levels of omega-3 are found in mainly leafy green vegetables and oily fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to the development of a child’s brain and nervous system. Using an omega-3 or fish oil supplement is a good way to achieve the proper ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, promoting brain, skin and tissue health, and reducing inflammation. An imbalance in omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is associated with the following disorders: heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, asthma, lupus, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Cholesterol is another controversial subject. Cholesterol is a high molecular-weight alcohol that is manufactured in the liver and in most human cells. The cholesterol we make and consume plays many vital roles:
· contributing to the rigidity and stability of cell membranes
· required to make stress hormones to protect the body against heart disease and cancer
· required to make sex hormones like androgen, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone
· cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D needed for healthy bone and nervous system, reproduction and immune system function
· acts as an antioxidant
· Is needed for proper function of Serotonin receptors in the brain. Low cholesterol has been linked to aggressive and violent behavior, depression and suicidal tendencies
· maintains intestinal wall preventing leaky gut syndrome, a problem with vegetarian diets
· is the body’s natural healing substance to repair damaged blood vessels
When one’s cholesterol levels are increased, the body is regulating the levels to accomplish one of the above tasks. The body makes more cholesterol than one would normally consume on an unrestricted diet. A low cholesterol diet actually causes the body to over produce cholesterol defeating the purpose of the diet. Statin drugs block the production of cholesterol, which in turn blocks the functions above.
Low fat and low cholesterol diets impede all the necessary functions discussed above. I would suggest that a “correct” fat and “correct” cholesterol diet is a better approach.