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Fat-Free Diet - Good or Bad?

For years we’ve been told the best way to lose weight and to keep our cholesterol levels in check is to cut fat from the diet. 

The USDA Food Pyramid advises consumers to use sugars and fats sparingly. While the former are really poisonous and should not be eaten by any means, the latter are absolutely crucial to our health. 
National Heart Foundation says fat is now officially recognized as an essential part of a balanced diet. The only catch is that there are ‘good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats. 

Good (Essential) Fats

They are defined as “essential” because:

  • The body cannot make them;
  • They are required for normal cell, tissue, gland, and organ function, for health and for life;
  • They must be provided from outside the body, through food or supplements;
  • They can come only from fats (hence fat-free diets cannot supply them);
  • Their absence from the diet will eventually kill;
  • Deficiency results in progressive deterioration unto death;
  • Return of essential fats to a deficient diet reverses the symptoms of deficiency and results in a return to health.

There are only two essential fats (technically called essential fatty acids or EFAs):

--omega 3 fatty acid, also called alpha linolenic acid, and

--omega-6 fatty acid, known as linoleic acid.

A recent study involving over 40,000 middle-aged and older American men over a period of six years found that there was no link between saturated fat intake and heart disease in men. It also supported the contention that linolenic acid (a form of fat) is preventive against heart disease.

If we get enough of both, and the ratio between them is right the body converts omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids into several derivatives with important functions in the body.

The best-known derivatives of omega-3 are EPA and DHA, which are made by the body and are also found in high fat, cold-water fish. DHA is the major brain omega-3 fatty acid.

Derivatives of omega-6 include GLA (found in evening primrose oil), DGLA (found in mother's milk), and AA (found in meat, eggs, and butter, as well as in fish). AA is the major brain omega-6 fatty acid.

“A strong correlation exists between schizophrenia and deficiencies in fats, especially in the n-3 series. Schizophrenics who naturally eat lots of Omega-3 fats tend to have less severe symptoms than those who don't. Supplementation with extra fats in the Omega-3 group significantly improves symptoms of schizophrenia in most patients. Close relatives of schizophrenics show similar deficiencies in Omega-3 fats. The possibility that diets generally low in fat might worsen schizophrenia or even bring on the condition among those already predisposed to it is hard to ignore.” [74][75]

There is no shortage of Omega 6 in the typical western diet. In fact there is a general over consumption of this as it is present in most cooking oils. The problem is a deficiency of the omega-3.

American mothers produce milk that often has only one-fifth to one-tenth of the omega-3 content of the milk that well-nourished, nut-eating Nigerian mothers provide their infants. [76]

In today western diet the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can be as high as 50:1. The optimum ratio is 4-2.5:1.

Most adults need 2 to 5 tablespoons of omega-3 each day to reach optimum. When it's hot, about 1 tablespoon per 100 pounds of body weight per day is a good target. In places where winters are cold, aim for 1 tablespoon per 50 pounds of body weight per day. You will know optimum by soft, smooth, velvety skin.

There are four main sources of good fats:

Green vegetables contain good fats, but in very small quantities. To get 2 tablespoons of good fats, a person would have to eat over 60 pounds of vegetables per day. That is impossible.

Seeds and nuts are richer sources of EFAs. But there is no seed or nut that gives an optimum ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 to keep us healthy in our present situation with food habits. Flax is the richest source of omega-3, but a poor source of omega-6. Sunflower, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, and olives contain omega-6 but no omega-3. Soybeans and walnuts contain lots of omega-6, and a small amount of omega-3. Most other seeds and nuts, such as pecans, macadamia nuts, and cashews, are poor sources of EFAs. So we must mix and match these seeds to get both EFAs in the right quantities and ratio.

High fat, cold-water fish such as sardines, salmon, albacore tuna, trout, herring, and mackerel contain the most beneficial form of omega-3 – two fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are essential to fighting and preventing both physical and mental disease.

You may consider taking fish oil capsules in the warmer months and cod liver oil in the fall, winter and early spring months. If you live near or close to the equator, you will most likely only need to take fish oil, not cod liver oil, as your vitamin D intake from the sun will be sufficient. I prefer fish (raw as sushi; or poached rather than fried) to encapsulated fish oils (unless it comes from a trusted source) because of processing damage, rancidity, and oil-soluble toxins in fish (liver) oils.

Oils made with health in mind:

- pressed from organically grown seeds under protection of light, air, and heat;

- filtered and filled into dark glass bottles under the same protection;

- boxed to keep out all light;

- refrigerated during storage at the factory, in stores, and in the home; and used with care in food preparation (never used for frying, sautéing, or baking).

Oils made with this care are found in the refrigerator in health food stores.
It is unusual to see such care taken in oil preparation, packaging, storage, and use of supermarket oils. But this kind of care is necessary if EFA-rich oils are to retain their health benefits. [77].

 I especially recommend natural, non-hydrogenated, non-refined, cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil or flaxseed oil.

EFA Health Functions

EFAs increase energy level, stamina, and performance, speed recovery from fatigue and speed healing of injuries. We have seen this benefit in strength and endurance athletes, in performance dogs and horses, in older people, in those with degenerative conditions associated with low energy levels, and those complaining of fatigue.

EFAs are the best-kept secret for beautiful skin, hair, and nails. Soft, velvety skin, tan better and burn less, helpful in eczema, psoriasis, and acne. They are useful for sweating out oil-soluble toxins through the skin, protect from the toxic effects of pesticides in tissues and improve skin, hair coat, feathers, claws, hooves in dogs, cats, horses, birds, and other animals.

EFAs improve digestion by slowing stomach emptying time, suppress appetite, reduce cravings for sugars, starches, and non-essential fats. They make withdrawal from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco easier, support healthy bowel flora, prevent leaky gut and food allergies, enhance food flavors; and improve the absorption of oil-soluble phytonutrients from vegetables and other foods.

EFAs are required by all glands and organs, required for insulin function, testosterone production, serotonin production. The're required for liver, kidney and lung function, improve thyroid function, provide glands and organs with the energy these highly active tissues require for their functions.

EFAs decrease several cardiovascular risk factors, lower high triglycerides, lower high blood pressure, decrease platelet stickiness, making stroke, heart attack, and embolism less likely. EFAs sometimes help, but are not reliable, to lower cholesterol levels.

EFAs reduce water retention (edema), decrease inflammation, dampen the over-response of the immune system in auto-immune conditions, protect our genetic material (DNA) from damage, have anti-tumor properties.

EFAs are required for wound healing, mineral transport and mineral metabolism; prevent loss of bone minerals, and thereby keep bones strong and help prevent osteoporosis; work against protein-induced mineral loss.
EFAs are required for protein metabolism; protein without EFAs becomes toxic.
EFAs are required for hemoglobin production, cell growth, and cell division.

EFAs reduce body fat under skin in body builders, to they get the 'shredded' look.

Observed 30-50 pounds of fat reduction/year in obese people on 3-5 tbsp of EFA-rich oil; sometimes up to 10 tbsp/day. [78]

"Despite abundant evidence that dietary fat bears no relation to development of cancer of the breast, the NIH intends...to try once again to prove a link that is probably not there.... Why then does NIH insist on spending $10 million on a study whose hypothesis seems to be little more than wishful thinking? Is it only because of the faddish infatuation with fat as the root of all dietary evil?" [79]

The role of these polyunsaturated essential fatty acids in the diet also has gained new recognition.

The National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board's Dietary Reference Intake Committee recently established macronutrient dietary intake recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids. They recommend .13 to .14 grams per day of EPA plus DHA for pregnant and nursing women.
For example, eight ounces of salmon per week provides four times the recommended amount of DHA and EPA. Eight ounces of canned light tuna (in water) only provides 60 percent of the recommended amounts, while the same amount of canned white tuna provides twice the recommended level. Catfish only provides 40 percent of these lipids but is low in contaminants. [80]

Consider using the following good fats in your kitchen, but remember that even good fats should be consumed in moderation:

Butter contains omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs in small but almost equal amounts. This excellent balance between linoleic and linolenic acid prevents the kind of problems associated with over consumption of omega-6 fatty acids.

Butter from pasture-fed cows also contains a form of rearranged linoleic acid called CLA, which has strong anticancer properties. It also encourages the buildup of muscle and prevents weight gain. CLA disappears when cows are fed dry hay or processed feed. [81]
Many trace minerals are incorporated into the fat globule membrane of butterfat, including manganese, zinc, chromium and iodine. In mountainous areas far from the sea, iodine in butter protects against goiter.

Butter is extremely rich in selenium, a trace mineral with antioxidant properties, containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ. There is much less cholesterol in an ounce of butter than in a lean chicken breast [about 1/5 as much cholesterol in fat as in lean meat on a calorie basis, according to R. Reiser of Texas A & M Univ., 1979.].

One frequently voiced objection to the consumption of butter and other animal fats is that they tend to accumulate environmental poisons. Fat-soluble poisons such as DDT do accumulate in fats; but water-soluble poisons, such as antibiotics and growth hormones, accumulate in the water fraction of milk and meats. Vegetables and grains also accumulate poisons. The average plant crop receives ten applications of pesticides-from planting to storage-while cows generally graze on pasture that is unsprayed.

Duck and Goose Fats are semisolid at room temperature, containing about 35% saturated fat, 52% monounsaturated fat (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and about 13% polyunsaturated fat.

The proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids depends on what the birds have eaten. Duck and goose fat are quite stable and are highly prized in Europe for frying potatoes.

Chicken Fat is about 31% saturated, 49% monounsaturated (including moderate amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 20% polyunsaturated, most of which is omega-6 linoleic acid, although the amount of omega-3 can be raised by feeding chickens flax or fish meal, or allowing them to range free and eat insects. Although widely used for frying in kosher kitchens, it is inferior to duck and goose fat, which were traditionally preferred to chicken fat in Jewish cooking.

Lard or Pork Fat is about 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 12% polyunsaturated.

Like the fat of birds, the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will vary in lard according to what has been fed to the pigs. In the tropics, lard may also be a source of beneficial lauric acid if the pigs have eaten coconuts.

Like duck and goose fat, lard is stable and a preferred fat for frying. It was widely used in America at the turn of the century. It is a good source of vitamin D, especially in third-world countries where other animal foods are likely to be expensive. Some researchers believe that pork products should be avoided because they may contribute to cancer. Others suggest that only pork meat presents a problem and that pig fat in the form of lard is safe and healthy.

Beef and Mutton Tallows are 50-55% saturated, about 40% monounsaturated and contain small amounts of the polyunsaturates, usually less than 3%. Suet, which is the fat from the cavity of the animal, is 70-80% saturated. Suet and tallow are very stable fats and can be used for frying. Traditional cultures valued these fats for their health benefits. They are a good source of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid.

Olive Oil contains 75% oleic acid, the stable monounsaturated fat, along with 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% omega-3 linolenic acid. The high percentage of oleic acid makes olive oil ideal for salads and for cooking at moderate temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants.

It should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and have a golden yellow color, indicating that it is made from fully ripened olives. Olive oil has withstood the test of time; it is the safest vegetable oil you can use, but don't overdo. The longer chain fatty acids found in olive oil are more likely to contribute to the buildup of body fat than the short- and medium-chain fatty acids found in butter, coconut oil or palm kernel oil.

Flax Seed Oil contains 9% saturated fatty acids, 18% oleic acid, 16% omega-6 and 57% omega-3. With its extremely high omega-3 content, flax seed oil provides a remedy for the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance so prevalent in America today. Not surprisingly, Scandinavian folklore values flax seed oil as a health food. New extraction and bottling methods have minimized rancidity problems. It should always be kept refrigerated, never heated, and consumed in small amounts in salad dressings and spreads.

Adding flaxseed oil to your foods, or taken with a meal, creates a feeling of satiation.

The essential fats in flaxseed oil cause the stomach to retain food for a longer period of time as compared to no fat or low fat foods. The addition of flax oil to food also results in a gradual release of this combination into the small intestine. The physiological effect is a slow, sustained rise in blood sugar, then a prolonged plateau of blood sugar. Ultimately, the blood sugar under goes a slow and gradual drop. You will experience a corresponding feeling of prolonged energy, stamina and satisfaction with no immediate hunger pangs following the meal. The net result is that you feel fuller, longer and actually eat fewer calories in the long run than if you would have chosen a no fat low fat diet.

Furthermore, flaxseed oil is converted to compounds that fuel the metabolic processes in our cells. Much like a furnace, once stoked the cells generate more heat, and burn more fuel, in this case calories. The essential nutrients in flaxseed oil also increase oxygen consumption at the cellular level resulting in increased energy and stamina and feeling of well-being.

"The right kind and the right amount of fat will allow you to lose weight effortlessly and painlessly without becoming preoccupied with dieting...essential fat is the healthiest and easiest way to attain and maintain your normal weight." [82]  nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman
Tropical Oils are more saturated than other vegetable oils. Palm oil is about 50% saturated, with 41% oleic acid and about 9% linoleic acid. Coconut oil is 92% saturated.

Of particular interest is lauric acid, found in large quantities in palm kernel oil, coconut oil and in mother's milk. This fatty acid has strong antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. [83]

Because coconut oil contains lauric acid, it is often used in baby formulas.
These oils are extremely stable and can be kept at room temperature for many months without becoming rancid (and thereby carcinogenic).

It is not true that coconut oil causes heart disease. In contrary: when coconut oil was fed as 7% of energy to patients recovering from heart attacks, the patients had greater improvement compared to untreated controls, and no difference compared to patents treated with corn or safflower oils. Highly saturated tropical oils have been nourishing healthy populations for millennia. [84]

Bruce Fife, N.D., the author of the book Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil, completely convinced of powerful properties of coconut oil as a weight loss promoter, proposes “The Coconut Diet”, a diet that you would like, that you could stay on permanently and still enjoy most of your favorite foods without worrying about counting calories or weighing food. The diet is simple and it doesn’t require any drastic changes in the way you prepare or eat your food. Just replace...

Excerpts from "Weight Loss Cover-Up EXPOSED! - Dieting Secrets The Government Doesn't Want You To Know" by Astrid Lasco B.Sc., M.Sc.

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