Published on March 31st, 2021 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
Turnabout on Fats for Healthy Weight and Heart
Americans are waking up to a profound new reality about the health benefits of good fats. For more than 50 years, fats have been targeted by mainstream outlets as the enemy and a prime contributor to obesity and heart disease. There has been particular emphasis on reducing cholesterol by eliminating saturated fats. In response, butter was replaced with margarine skim or low-fat milk was recommended over whole milk, canola oil was glorified, and eggs were practically viewed as evil. Many Americans complied with these recommendations, but decades later, cardiovascular disease is still the number one non-viral cause of death in America.
Several scientists took delved deeper, pushing beyond the standard focus of what causes cardiovascular disease and asking why saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and whether cholesterol should be regarded as dangerous. In January 2021, their research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The answer appears obvious: saturated fats raise cholesterol and cholesterol leads to cardiovascular disease, but the research results suggest the solutions are not so cut-and-dried.
Health Benefits of Good Fats
Outdated recommendations that people should eliminate fats, particularly saturated fats, from their diets caused a dangerous dietary move to include more added sugars, carbs and processed foods. This led to a worldwide epidemic of weight gain, obesity and a multitude of illness. For years, no differentiation was made between healthy fats and bad fats—all fats were considered equally bad and led lead to high cholesterol and heart disease. Processed industrial vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower and soybean became the recommended choices for cooking, dressings and marinades.
Healthy fats such as grass-fed butter and even beef tallow, as well as coconut, macadamia and avocado oils, not only offer a wide range of health benefits, they also stand up well to cooking with high heat levels because they are not prone to oxidative damage the way other oils are. The proven benefits derived from healthy fats are actually directly opposed to the arguments against saturated fats. These benefits, among others, include lowering bad cholesterol while increasing the good cholesterol; lowering blood pressure; lowering triglycerides; lessening the risk of stroke and heart attack; protecting against arrhythmia; preventing and regulating mood disorders; contributing to good mental health; contributing to skin, hair, and eye health; improving blood sugar regulation; and helping with vitamin absorption.
Healthy fats also help eliminate cravings for sugars and carbs after a meal. Keep in mind that when it comes to animal fats like beef, butter, beef tallow and other dairy, there is a big difference between products derived from grain-fed animals and grass-fed animals. Some of the benefits of nutrient-rich grass-fed animal products include five times more omega-3s; twice as much conjugated linoleic acid (CLA); higher carotenoid levels (precursors to vitamin A, including beta carotene); and higher levels of antioxidants, including vitamin E.
Not All Trans Fats Are Equal
Trans fats are typically lumped into a single category of “unhealthy”, but there are two kinds of trans fats: natural and artificial. Moderate amounts of trans fats—CLAs—occur naturally in grass-fed animals, but less so in grain-fed animals. Grass-fed animals are healthier in general and are typically antibiotic- and hormone-free. These natural trans fats have been shown to lower the risk of cancer and are associated with the management and prevention of diabetes through the improvement of insulin resistance and glucose tolerance, as well as lowering the risk of heart disease.
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