Monday, October 8, 2012

Fats: The good, the bad and the ugly.

All the cell walls in our body are composed of fatty acids (the building blocks of fat). That means that the quality of the fat you take in directly effects the integrity of your cells. Being that your whole body is made up of cells, you can see how this might be a little important.

In this post I hope to spell out some basics about fats. I will make an attempt not melt your face off with a bunch of bio-chemistry terms. These are the bare essentials for your maximized fat-intake experience.

THE BAD:
Number one: Many toxins and chemicals are fat soluble, and get into your body through the fats you eat. The toxic stuff in plastic is fat soluble, so keep fat and fatty things away from plastic. Many pesticides are fat soluble, and can bioaccumulate in excess adipose tissue (translation: the stuff that kills insects on your food likes to hang out in your fat). Non-organic oils (think McDonalds french fries) are subject to whatever pesticides are dumped on the crops that year.

I'm talking about accumulation in human fat tissue, though this also happens in animals we eat. When we eat animal fats, there is an ever higher concentration of toxins than in plant oils. Were these chemicals as safe as the people with their pockets full of our money are saying, that would be well and good. What's I'm sayin' is- lets get low on the food chain so we don't end up in a hazardous waste dump. These chemicals are yucky and they can mess you up. Fish is the worst offender of the bunch- especially farmed fish and fish that eat other fish that eat other fish (the chemical snowball effect).

Number two: Neal Bernard, MD has written extensively about food addictions. According to this legit dude, fat is pretty addictive. So is sugar. They release opiates in our brain that chill us out and make us happy. This sounds great- but it ends up a lot like heroin- you just can't stop. Access to endless amounts of refined fats was never supposed to happen.

Over-consumption of refined fats (anything that went through a process and is more concentrated as a result) can exacerbate menstrual symptoms. Especially women who have a high risk of breast cancer (past history in the family, history of HRT, history of radiation or chemical exposure) will benefit from reducing refined and low quality fats in their diet.

Number three: Bad quality or rancid oil sucks. It can cause cell damage and accelerate aging, because they contain "free radicals" (a highly reactive part of a molecule that can cause the DNA damage). Basically, it adds to the stress level in your body, which is already maxed out in most people.

Fat becomes rancid when exposed to heat, water, light, and air. So if you're someone who stores your oil in an open container next to your stove (which is a hot place), it's time to rethink the situation.

Being a good steward of your fat products is important. Store your unrefined, extra virgin, first cold pressing, organic, plant based oils in sealed amber jars in the fridge. At the very least keep air and water out of the bottle and store it somewhere dark. Nuts and seeds also like being in cold, dark, dry places. Again, if you're really into it, nuts do best in the fridge. From my experience, walnuts and pecans are especially quick to go rancid. You can even keep larger amounts in the freezer.

THE GOOD: WHOLE FOOD FATS
By "whole food," I means foods that have not been refined or processed from their natural state. Personally, I advocate for eating foods in their whole form as much as you can.

Getting enough of the right fats ensures good nervous system function and cell integrity. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are necessary for many important bodily functions. "Omega-3" refers to the location of the unsaturation point (the place where the molecule lacks a carbon), and determines how the molecule bends into its final shape. The shape determines how it can be used, and how it will interact with other molecules.

Whole food fat sources; avocadoes, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, mackerel and other wild-caught sustainably fished fish, spirulina and chlorella.

Oils: Coconut, olive and sesame.

Whole Food Fat Recipes:
Chocolate "Frosting"
1 large avocado
2 heaping tablespoons of raw cacao powder or regular cocoa powder
10-15 drops of stevia extract, or 1 Tablespoon raw honey (more if desired)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
fruit as a topping (raspberries rock my world), or fruit to dip in the "frosting"

Combine everything in food processor and process. Eat. Om nom.

Chia Porridge
2 Tbsp Chia seeds
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup hemp milk (unsweetened), or other nut milk.
vanilla extract
10 drops of liquid stevia extract
fresh peaches or frozen raspberries

Soak chia seeds in water overnight, stirring as your combine them. In the morning, stir chia seeds throughly and add in everything else.

Flax Pudding
1 handful of whole flax seeds (soaked or not)
1 banana
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
9 drops liquid stevia extract OR raw honey
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
dash of sea salt

Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender (Best results with a vitamix). Add more water if necessary. Eat with fresh fruit for breakfast or dessert.

Flax Honey-Mustard Dressing
1 handful of flax seeds
2 tbsp mustard (I made mustard from scratch with flax seeds recently, which is fantastic)
1 tbsp raw honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water if needed to thin it
pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients well in a high powered blender (preferably a vitamix, to grind flax seeds to a small enough size). This dressing is great on everything.

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