Food & Diet
6 Surprising Benefits of Eating Fat
As obesity and heart disease have been major health problems for some time now, many people have begun paying more attention to their eating habits and trying to live a healthier life. In those attempts, people limit their intake of fat thinking that it is to be blamed for all the health problems and weight gain. However, the problem doesn’t lie in fats but in carbohydrates, particularly if the intake is excessive.
Fats are not all that bad as we perceived them to be.
Actually, if we eat less of carbohydrates, the fats we take in can be very beneficial for our health and looks. But not all fats have the same effect nor are they equally healthy. For example, the unrefined fats from animal origin, olives, fish, and such, usually contain high levels of omega-3s and are considered very healthy. On the other hand, refined and hydrogenated fats are not healthy and should be avoided. These include vegetable, sunflower and corn fats, and those are the fats used in the making of (oh, so delicious) pastries, cookies and prepackaged foods.
If we ate the way our ancestors did, we would be much healthier. Dr. David Perlmutter, a writer of health books and a nutrition expert spoke about their nutrition habits which were comprised of 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates, while the nutrition of people today is commonly made up of 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat. Dr. Perlmutter explains how this transition to eating more carbs has brought many health problems to people, including depression, anxiety and Alzheimer’s. All of these conditions are most probably connected with the inflammations that carbohydrates cause in the body and brain, disrupting the functions of both physical and mental systems.
So, if we reduce our intake of carbs, fats can prove to be very beneficial for us, and here is how:
1. Healthy lungs
In order to function well, our lungs need a layer of fat (called surfactant), consisting entirely of saturated fatty acids, to cover them. If there isn’t enough fat in the body to make this surfactant for the lungs, it could lead to developing asthma or other breathing problems. This surfactant is given to babies who were born prematurely and don’t yet have it developed so their lungs are in danger of not functioning properly and developing a condition. When they are given the right amount of this substance, the babies are protected from lung disease and their airways are able to work as they should.
2. Improved immune system
Healthy fats are a powerful aid in fighting against pathogens and infections that cause health conditions. The fats fighting for the health of our body and preventing disease are those coming from coconut oil, red palm oil and butter, all of which have fatty acids that protect us from bacteria, viruses and fungi, while at the same time boosting our immune system. These fats provide enough fatty acids for the body to be able to battle negative influences from the environment and destroy hazardous substances that enter the body. Dr. Michael and Dr. Eades, the writers of the book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” claim that without these acids, the white blood cells are unable to protect the body from these substances, so taking them in is very important for our overall health.
3. Healthy skin
Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s and omega-6s are very important for natural skin care, as they are the ones that build cell membranes and produce the skins natural oil barrier which is necessary for the skin to stay hydrated and look young and fresh. If you are not taking in enough of these fats, it is very probable that your skin is dry, and that you easily get whiteheads and blackheads. Essential fatty acids have been shown to provide some degree of sun protection and help reduce inflammation and acne.
4. Healthier brain
When the body lacks good fats and cholesterol, it affects the brain as well. You maybe didn’t know this, but your brain is comprised of essential fatty acids, and the lack of these (in the right amounts) can cause depression and other kinds of misbalances. When your brain is not supplied with enough fatty acids, your body prevents it from absorbing important vitamins (A, D and E) and the levels of serotonin, a chemical produced in the brain that is in charge of maintaining mood balance, and it’s deficiency often leads to depression.
5. Stronger bones
Eating healthy fats is important for the health of bones. Essential fatty acids are necessary for building the bones in the right way, with good mineral density and stable bone mass. By taking in these fats, you can stay safe from developing conditions such as osteoporosis or loss in bone mass due to inability to properly absorb calcium because of insufficient intake of healthy fats alongside vitamins K2 and D. Good fats balanced with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are what builds healthy bones, so the intake of these nutrients is crucial.
6. Better reproductive health
Good fats are very important because they help the body maintain hormonal balance of testosterone and estrogen. When eaten in proper amounts, these fats contribute to an increase in these androgens, which directly improves the libido and positively impacts reproductive health. Women who don’t eat enough of good fats can become infertile, while those who eat fats, but the bad ones (refined and hydrogenated) are at risk of developing PMS problems and having a particularly hard time when menopause takes place. When it comes to men, the effects of not eating enough good fats are similar – it also affects their reproductive health to the point of infertility.
Good fats, when combined with clean eating, can help you lose weight, maintain good looking skin, get into better shape and stay lean, while generally improving your overall health. Besides nourishing your physical health, fat also improves your mental health and moods – making you a healthier, happier person.