Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wellness wednesday - FAT - The good, the bad, and the ugly!

Sorry if you are wondering why my wellness Wednesday post is so late today.  It is because I was out getting my exercise at the park with the kids this morning and just now got back from my p90X work out.  Phew!! A lot of running around today! Anyway, I am here. I want to talk about fat.  Don't worry I am not just going to say not to eat it!

Fat can actually be good for you!  That's right, your body needs it.  When discussing good fat Laurie Tansman, MS, RD, CDN, a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York said "It not only plays a vital role in the health of the membrane of every cell in our body, it also helps protect us from a number of key health threats,".  Unfortunately I am not talking about your chili cheese fries or that "Big Mac".  Saturated fats like those from dairy and animal products are still to be avoided.  As are any partially hydrogenated oils (candy bars, hot cocoa, processed foods), and trans fats which are artificial man made fats (think krispy creme doughnuts and most margarine's).  These fats are highly destructive and there is a corresponding link between eating these fats in high amounts and obesity, clogged arteries, heart disease, strokes and other deadly ailments. 

Lets get back to the good fats.  These fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, are needed to absorb vitamin A, D, K, and E, maintain healthy skin and hair, protect the nervous system, essential to eyesight and brain development, reduce the symptoms of depression, ADHD, hypertension, and joint pain, as well as, boost the immune system, protect from heart disease, Alzheimer's and other life threatening illness.  Wow, what a list!  Now I have your attention.

Lets just briefly talk about Omega 3's.  No doubt you have heard a lot about them as they are responsible for so many of the health promoting functions I mentioned above.  So where can you get them?  By eating flax seed (ground and poured over cereal or in smoothies), walnuts, cold water fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, salmon, etc.. , canola oil, broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, grape leaves, Chinese cabbage, and cauliflower. 
 Walnuts are a potent source with one handful (1 ounce) packing as many omega 3's as a 3.5 oz serving of salmon.  We love walnuts at my house!  We use them in our cereal in the morning ( a mix of raw oats, flax seed ground up, coconut, raisins, and sunflower seeds, and walnuts in soy milk), in any treats like brownies, fruit crisp toppings or cookies, throw them ethnic dishes like stir frys or in pasta with red sauce with wine and green olives, and eat them by the handful for snacks.  Another great source for Omega 3's is your butter spread.  You have to be VERY CAREFUL here.  Many products like "I can't believe it's nt butter", promise and others touting health benefits and "no trans fats" actually list partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients! DO NOT BUY THESE.  Regular stick margarines as well are made almost entirely of partially hydrogenated oils that are very damaging to your body.  A good choice though is "Smart Balance buttery spread" which lists several monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil and other healthy ingredients.  That is what we use.  It tastes great and in moderation can actually improve my health.

 Omega 3's are so powerful because they help the body create chemicals that decrease inflammation in the blood, joints and tissue.  Equally important is the role they play in reducing the negative impact of another essential fatty acid known as Omega 6's.  Mind you these Omega 6's are important to the human body and function in maintaining healthy skin, lowering cholesterol, and making blood clottable.  But when the ratio of omega 3's to omega 6's ( found in eggs, poultry, cereals, vegetable oils, baked goods, and margarine)  is off  your body is in trouble.  Your blood can become too "sticky" or clottable and causes an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. 

The ideal ratio is roughly 4 parts omega 3's to 1 part Omega 6's.  Most Americans have a 20 to 1 ratio going with a ridiculously high level of Omega 6's to Omega 3's.  The best thing to do is up your omega 3 intake.  Supplements are a great way to supplement a diet already rich in omega 3's.  Still not totally convinced of your need for more Omega 3's?  How about this little tid bit...

Taking a 2,000 mg dose of Omega 3's before walking may activates belly fat and help your body to burn more fat from that area while walking.  I know it sounds ridiculous and unbelievable but I read an entire article on it and the evidence from thier study was quite convincing.  It was a magazine article not a supplement sales pitch or anything.  It is worth a try anyway!  Here's to a healthy heart.


Tracy @ Mama-press said...

Great article. I firmly believe all this and coincidentally posted a similar health conscious post on my bog today. Look forward to reading more.

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