|Advanced Health & Life Extension||
Dietary Fats...Good Fats...Bad Fats
To mitigate some of the confusion that circulates about dietary fats and their significance, here is a brief definition and description of some of the terminology:
Fats - Food is composed of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, water and a large number of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Fats are an important source of energy. The energy content of fat is higher than in carbohydrates or proteins and is released more slowly producing a more sustained source of energy.
Saturated Fats - The carbon atom has four electrons available for "pairing" or "bonding" with other atoms. Fats are large molecules containing many carbon atoms strung together. When all of the carbon atoms in the chain share only one electron with the adjacent carbon atom, the molecule is considered to be "saturated". The carbon atom electrons that are not shared with another carbon atom are shared with a hydrogen atom. Molecules that contain only single carbon to carbon bonds contain the maximum number of hydrogen atoms and are, therefore, saturated with respect to their hydrogen content. Most animal fats are saturated fats. There are also plant sources of saturated fats including coconut oil and palm kernel oils.
Unsaturated Fats - Unsaturated fats contain one or more double carbon to carbon bonds. That is, the carbon atoms share two electrons rather than just one. As a result there is one less hydrogen atom in the molecule for each carbon double bond.
Monounsaturaed Fats - Monounsaturated fats contain one carbon double bond per molecule.
Polyunsaturated Fats - Polyunsaturated fats contain more than one carbon double bond per molecule.
Trans Fats - Trans fats are fats created by taking polyunsaturated vegetable oils and "hydrogenating" them. In hydrogenation, the carbon double bonds are broken and additional hydrogen atoms are inserted into the molecule. Hydrogenated trans fats were created chemically because they are more resistant to oxidation. They have been used extensively in fast food chains to make fried foods, because they can withstand the high temperatures longer than unsaturated oils. They are also used in processed food products because they have a longer shelf life. Scientific evidence shows that consumption of saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad cholesterol," levels, which increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Because of this and other health issues and increased consumer awareness, the food industry is beginning to reduce or eliminate the use of trans fats in food products.
Essential Fatty Acids - Essential fatty acids are fats that are necessary for life, are not produced in the human body or not produced in sufficient quantities and must be obtained from the diet.
Vitamin F - Vitamins are a group of substances essential for normal metabolism, growth and development, and regulation of cell function. Some fatty acids meet this definition and have been referred to as vitamin F or vitamin F complex.
Arachidonic Acid - Arachidonic Acid (AA) is an unsaturated Omega 6 fatty acid that the body uses to synthesize regulatory molecules such as prostaglandins (hormone like chemical messenger) and thromboxanes (involved in platelet aggregation and blood clotting). Arachidonic acid is essential for life. The human body is capable of synthesizing Arachidonic acid from linoleic acid. An excess of arachidonic acid promotes inflammation and degenerative processes like arteriosclerosis and arthritis. Arachidonic acid is found in animal foods, especially in animal fat. Excess synthesis of arachidonic acid in the human body is associated with high insulin levels, diagetes and obesity. The ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats in the human body is becoming increasingly recognized as an important indicator of health.
Linoleic Acid - Linoleic acid is an omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid used in the biosynthesis of prostaglandins and cell membranes and in other natural oils. The sources include sunflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and others. To be fully utilised by the body, LA must be converted into gamma-linolenic acid.
Alpha Linolenic Acid - Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid. Most seeds and seed oils are much richer in the omega-6 fat, linoleic acid. Linoleic acid and the other omega-6 fats, compete with omega-3 fats for positions in cell membranes and have very different effects on human health. Studies have found evidence that ALA is related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The body converts ALA into the longer chain fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and it is unknown whether the protective effect against cardiac arrhythmia is exerted by ALA itself, or by these metabolic products. Research has also suggested a major neuroprotective effect of ALA in in-vivo models of both global ischemia and epilepsy. The best source of alpha linolenic acid is flax seed oil. Flax seed oil is very perishable and should be fresh ground and pressed to prevent rancidity. Many individuals who use flax seed oil own a grinder and buy fresh whole seeds and grind them as needed.
Gamma Linolenic Acid - Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) is a form of Omega 6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid is converted to gamma-linolenic acid in the body and then further broken down to arachidonic acid. There are four major natural sources of GLA: borage oil, also known as star flower, containing 20-24 percent GLA; hemp oil containing 19% GLA, black currant oil, containing 14-17 percent GLA; and evening primrose oil, containing 8-10 percent GLA.
A significant number of studies show that supplements rich in gamma linolenic acid help with pre-menstrual syndromes, eczema, psoriasis, obesity, benign breast disease and vascular disorders. Essential fatty acids such as gamma linolenic acid are converted to hormone-like substances known as eicosanoids and prostaglandins that act as messengers involved in reproduction and in inflammatory response. A study done by the University of Pennsylvania has reported that high doses of gamma linolenic acid can be effectively used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Gamma Linolenic Acid is the "good" omega 6 oil.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid - Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally-occurring polyunsaturated fatty acid. It is a group of isomers of linoleic acid, meaning that it is chemically identical but has the atoms arranged in a different patern than ordinary linoleic acid. The human body is unable to manufacture Linoleic Acid or CLA, so it must be obtained from dietary sources. Foods highest in CLA include dairy products and meat from ruminant animals, such as beef, lamb, and veal. CLA promotes muscle growth, helps reduce body fat, helps reduce abdominal fat, lowers insulin resistance, improves immune response and reduces cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Omega-3 Fats - Omega 3 fats come in three basic versions. Alpha linolenic acid is derived from plant sourcesEPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are longer chain molecules that the human body has some ability to synthesize from alpha linolenic acid. These oils are also found in large quantities in the oil of cold water fish. The best source of alpha linolenic acid by far is flax seed oil.
Omega-6 Fats - There are four types of Omega-6 EFAs: Linoleic Acid (LA), Gamma-linolenic Acid (GLA), Dihommagamma-linolenic Acid (DGLA) and Arachidonic Acid (AA). Linoleic acid is the most common form of Omega-6. It is found in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, soybean and safflower oils. The enzyme, Delta-6 Desaturase (D6D), that is needed to metabolize Linoleic acid into gamma linoleic acid does not work as effectively as desired in many individuals. This enzyme may be impaired by changing environmental conditions, high consumption of hydrogenated fat, high intake of foods containing linoleic acid, alcohol consumption, aging, disease and stress.
Omega-9 Fats - Oleic acid, an omega 9 fat, is essential to the human body but is not a true essential fatty acid. Humans can manufacture a limited amount of oleic acid if the essential fatty acids are present. Oleic acid is a mono-unsaturated fatty acid that is found in almost all natural fats. Oleic acid lowers the risk of a heart attack, arteriosclerosis, and aids in cancer prevention. Common sources of Oleic acid are avocado fruit (50%), Macadamia nuts (45%), apricot seeds (35%), almonds (33%) and olive oil (28%).
EPA - Eicosapentaenoic acid is an Omega-3 fatty acid. For the average person, only 10% of the total dietary Omega 3 fatty acids are consumed as eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA. A typical American only consumes a fifth of what is considered the necessary amount of eicosapentaenoic acid for maintenance and good health. Eicosapentaenoic acid is found primarily in fish and fish oils and can be synthesized within the human body in small amounts from alpha linolenic acid. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and alpha linolenic acid (LNA) are associated with decreasing triglycerides and decrease the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Low levels of EPA and DHA have been associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological problems, MS, ADHD, MD, weight problems, diabetes, slower immune response, and premature aging.
DHA - Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), an omega 3 fatty acid, is the primary structural component of brain tissue. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are involved in several chains of metabolic events in the body that help prevent disease, transport and uptake of oxygen, maintain cardiovascular health, balance hormone levels and maintain brain and immune system function. DHA can be made in the human body from alpha linolenic acid. Cold water fish oils contain large concentrations of DHA.