Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Fat, Fat, or Fat?
posted by Julie |
The whole fat thing. Well. We're learning. We're always learning. What we know to be true about nutritional science today may look barbarically idiotic to us tomorrow. The only thing constant is embarrassment over our dieting trends.
But the best thing we can do is keep learning and keep trying to improve our health. There's no shame in changing directions on this front.
We've learned a lot during the past few years about fats and their role in human metabolism. We don't know everything yet. What we do know is that for the most part our manufactured, mitigated, chemically altered fats tend to behave differently in our bodies than do the fats that occur in nature.
(Note how so much of what we discover forces us to consider our grandmothers' admonitions to slow down, put a priority on eating real whole foods rather than manufactured ones. We should pay attention to their wisdom, people.)
My sister tried to explain to me about the chemical chains in monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and transfats - hydrogenated fats -- yesterday, and frankly, she had me crosseyed over the whole thing. Essentially I took away this idea that when we alter the construction, the shape, of the chemical chains in our fats, they wind up behaving differently, doing different things in our tissues than do the fats we have been consuming for as long as we've been on the planet. If you have more questions about that, consult a biochemist, or my sister.
The results are sometimes benign (or seem to be until we know better years from now), and sometimes not (increased LDL, lowered HDL, heart attacks, diabetes, death).
In the end there are good fats and bad fats, better fats and worse fats. The unsaturated ones (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated) are good. Hands down. It's okay to get your calories from them. They don't by themselves make you fat. You watch your calories, right? Of course you do. Eat these fats while watching your calories, and you'll be just fine.
The saturated fats are out for jury deliberation still. Many diet packagers won't say so, but the actual nutrition researchers are not as quick to vilify these fats as they used to be. Your best bet is to eat them in moderation, and if you know you have a cholesterol problem, cut them down or out to play on the safe side until more research is available.
The trans-fats you should avoid like the plague at least. Work to demand change in your local and worldwide food producers' use of these fats at best. Follow the links to learn more.
Please, please, please especially read the Harvard nutrition article, and bookmark that whole site. It's just fabulous. Lengthy, but well worth it.
Now to enjoy olive oil on my salad…
Please read every word of this Harvard Nutrition article
Become an anti-transfats activist
The Saturated/Trans-Fat Debate
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