The Skinny on Fats
Posted by Paige Brown
There’s been a huge controversy about fats over the years. Do you remember the 20th century low-fat boom, which was later debunked?
With all the polarized ideas about health out there, it’s hard to know exactly what is best and it’s increasingly difficult to navigate what “healthy” means.
When it comes right down to it, on a scientific level we can deduce that there are certain vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy living.
Among these nutrients are indeed fats and oils. Fats are needed for the assimilation of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
In colder climates fats can be beneficial for supplying deep, internal heat. Fats help to insulate and protect the internal organs while holding them in place.
From a Chinese Medicine standpoint, fats support our yin energy- providing comfort, security, and a slowing and grounding influence. Much like our winter energies that drive us to seek inner warmth, to look inwards, and to store our physical energy.
Fats not only build tissues, they also enhance fluid metabolism, and send nutrients into the nervous system. The predominantly yin aspect of fat is then converted into substantive yang, by providing the body with physical energy and warmth. This is why fats are highly valued in the human diet, we all need to feel secure & comforted. We also like to have ample amounts of energy and warmth while slowing down.
Fats: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
There are many different kinds of fat out there and not all fats are the same. In fact not all fats are good for us. Fats can be broken down into two categories: Saturated and Unsaturated.
What Are Saturated Fats
Saturated fats primarily come from animal products such as cheese, butter, eggs, and meat products. These fats are solid at room temperature and generally have a high smoke point. They have the fewest rancidity problems of all the oils, making them beneficial for cooking.
What Are Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated Fats come from plants, animals, nuts and seeds. These oils are liquid at room temperature and can be further broken down into Monounsaturated fats, and Polyunsaturated fats.
What are Trans-Fats
Trans Fatty Acids are found in margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils. The process of hydrogenation to create these substances is particularly harmful as it creates an immune-damaging synthetic fat that elevates blood cholesterol. The FDA actually banned trans-fats in 2018, but they can still be found in some products manufactured before this date.
Fats and Fertility
The most important fats to focus on for fertility are polyunsaturated fats. These fats contain “essential” fatty acids (EFA’s) that the body is unable to make on its own and so must obtain from our diet.
These essential fatty acids include Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA work to mutually support each other and play a vital role in our health and well being.
EPA helps to reduce blood viscosity & clotting, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and prevents ischemia (ie. strokes and heart attacks).
DHA plays other vital roles in the body like supporting brain development and growth.
Omega 3’s have also been known to improve the health of our skin, nails and hair. It is also found in sperm.
EFA’s are also converted into prostaglandins, which play a key role in the function and regulation of every organ and cell in the body.
EFA/DHA and Sperm
Dietary effects on fertility are continually being researched and studied. Many studies in recent years have tested the theory of EFA’s and its effect on male fertility.
Studies show a strong correlation between low DHA concentration and low sperm quality.
Healthy sperm is dependent on the amount of EFA’s present in the diet. Fatty acid consumption has actually been found to change the fatty acid composition of sperm and semen quality. An increase in sperm membrane DHA in humans has been recorded and has been associated with higher sperm motility, normal morphology, as well as increased concentration of sperm.
Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish with the highest amount of EPA/DHA are salmon, mackerel and sardine. Other great sources are herring, anchovy, rainbow trout, and tuna. Capsule forms of fish oils can also be found at most supplement stores and here at Whole Family Health.
Recommended dosages of fish products: Seven to ten ounces of fish per week is sufficient or 500-1000mg of omega-3 fish oil in supplement form.
Flaxseed oil is another great plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to find sources that have not been processed with exposure to light or oxygen.
Recommended dosages of flax products: four tablespoons of ground flaxseed (flaxmeal) freshly ground or bought in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated, with meals once daily; or one tablespoon of fresh flax oil taken with meals once daily.
Want to learn more about healthy eating for men’s health? Join us December 1st for a Mindful Eating for Men Cooking Class at Rge Rd. All proceeds go to Movember.
Check out our Events page or call 587-200-5589 to register, space is limited!
Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 3rd ed., North Atlantic Books, 2002.