Many health conscious people strive for a low-fat diet. But you could be missing out on many health benefits such weight loss and a strong cardiovascular system if you miss the essential fats.
The no fat and low fat diet way of thinking came from the fact that so many people were – well – fat. It was logical to assume that it was because we were eating too much of it. Now we’re learning more. We now know that the harmful fats are the trans-fatty, oxidized and heat-processed fats like those found in margarine, fried foods and even grain-fed cattle.
In the daily strive for health we attempted to cut out all fats only to learn we are hurting ourselves. Fortunately it is a new era and we now know which fats to not only cut out – but what we need to include in our diets for better health, free of premature aging and degenerative disease.
These good fats are called the Essential Fatty Acids. They fall into two categories of Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s. Both types of fats are essential and it is important to get them from a variety of sources. The essential fats are the most popular because they are the most researched. There is one more category of fat, however, that you should be aware of – the Omega 9’s. Although not classified as an Essential Fat, it is well known that they are necessary for good health.
Let’s look at the effects of these fats. Deficiencies in these fatty acids can result in heart disease, depression, fatigue, and inflammation, which can lead to arthritis and even cancer. Benefits of including the good fats include weight loss, a stronger immune system, anti-inflammatory abilities, balanced hormones, thicker hair, and healthier, supple skin.
Omega 6 fatty acids can be found in many sources such as walnut oil, grapeseed oil, avocados, hemp oil, and pumpkin oil. It was once believed that the American diet contained just too much of this fat because it is found in fatty meats and cooking oils. However, it is not the over-consumption of the Omega 6’s for they are absolutely necessary for survival – it is how we consume it.
The problem lies in the processing of the foods and the balance of the fats. First of all, cooking or heating these foods (such as the cooking oils) will break the EFA chains rendering the healthy fats useless. We also know there is a difference in the healthy Omega 6 fats and the trans-fats found through cooking and fatty meats. Adding to this problem is the fact that we consume too few Omega 3 and Omega 9 foods, which causes an imbalance in our diets and our health.
Where can we get the other fats that we need? Some of the best sources of Omega 3’s are flaxseeds and their oil, walnuts and their oil, wheat germ oil, salmon, halibut, snapper, scallops, and winter squash. Omega 9’s can be found in food sources such as olive oil, sesame oil, avocadoes, peanuts (raw nuts of bottled oil), almonds, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts.
Consuming the essential fats are being more recognized each day as an important health factor. We already noted some of the benefits above. So what more could there be? Add to those health benefits the fact that consuming the healthy fats can stabilize blood sugar. When regularly consumed, you will feel fuller and more satisfied longer so you eat less with fewer cravings and less fatigue. In addition, including these fats into your daily diet will have anti-aging effects on your skin, hair and hormonal system. Essential fats also have detoxifying properties.
If you want extra benefits, take a supplement form that is cold-pressed and minimally processed. You can usually find these in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. No matter what form you choose, the benefits of EFA’s are many so be sure to include them in your diet.