Fats are vital to good health and we should take in a variety on a daily basis for our body to function effectively. It’s an essential nutrient for utilizing the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Furthermore, our diet contains fat that assists with the development and growth of the brain as well as the skin, nerve function, and bone structure. They also act as security and a cushion for the vital organs of the body. However, not all fats are identical or offer comparable health and wellness advantages. Food consisting of them have a differing combination of saturated, monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated.
Whether the fats you consume are liquids such as oil, or solids such as margarine, they end up being broken down by your body and transformed into fatty acids and glycerol. The human body takes these and converts other lipids in the body. The remaining lipids are stored as a triglyceride.
Differentiating between saturated fats, trans fats or unsaturated fats?
Fats are classified as either saturated or unsaturated. This is determined by the number of hydrogen atoms connected to each carbon in their chemical chains. The more hydrogens connected to the chain, the more saturated the fat is. Should there be hydrogen atoms missing, the fatty acid is referred to as unsaturated.
Saturated fat is related to causing the liver to produce more cholesterol in addition to LDL cholesterol.
Food Sources: Meats, Butter, Whole milk, Poultry, Coconut oil, Palm oil
There are two categories of unsaturated fats; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are regarded as being the healthier and more useful as opposed to saturated fats or trans fats. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are related to reduced LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, but concurrently raising the production of the “good” cholesterol, HDL cholesterol. Fats in this category normally are in liquid form and at room temperature.
Food Sources: Sunflower oil, Canola oil, Olive oil, Peanut oil, Hazelnuts, Macadamia nuts, Avocados
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
This type of fat activates lower blood/ serum cholesterol in addition to lower levels of LDL production. Interestingly, these fatty acids tend to reduce HDL production. Similar to monounsaturated fats, they can be found as liquids at room temperature.
Food Sources: Flaxseed oil, Corn oil, Sesame oil, Sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, Fatty fish, i.e. Salmon, Walnuts
Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are specific polyunsaturated fatty acids found in meat sources. In non-meat sources, our bodies’ process alpha-linolenic acid into usable omega-3s. This fat is to be specifically healthy and beneficial the body due to the fact of their linkage with enhancing the immune process, rheumatoid arthritis, vision, brain function, and heart health. They’ve are known to reduce both triglyceride and total cholesterol levels. Most experts recommend the consumption of foods rich in omega-3s on a daily basis.
Food Sources: Seafood including High fat mackerel, albacore tuna, sardines, salmon, lake trout
Seed, Nut, Vegetable, and other Oil Sources: Flaxseed oil, Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds, Peanuts Soybean oil, Canola oil, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, watercress and parsley
Vegetable oils offering Omega-6 fatty acids
Omega 6 rich foods also fall into the category of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are identified with lowering heart disease risk by reducing LDL cholesterol levels. Likewise, they’ve been known to also reduce HDL levels.
Food Sources: Most vegetable oils, Sunflower seeds, Pine Nuts, Trans Fats
Trans-fats are those we must avoid. Manufacturers use trans-fats to prolong the shelf life of foods such as breads, cookies, crackers, chips and other processed foods. Trans fats include hydrogen in their chemical makeup. Hydrogen causes the fat in the food to be firmer and more saturated, this causes a postponing of the rancidity and prolongs freshness. The adverse effect is that the hydrogens cause the food to become more saturated and hydrogenated resulting in trans fats. This additive is cheap – which is why manufacturers use it. But it is also very unhealthy.
Avoid trans fats! If we all stop buying food laden with trans fats, manufacturers will have to rethink and will have no choice but to start producing healthier foods for our families. Read labels on packaged foods to ensure they are free of transfats. Stay healthy.
You’ll notice that beta-carotene is one of the ingredients in our Ultimate Age-Proofing Complex (our top moisturizer) and our Beyond CP (nightly serum for oily skin or those with broken capillaries and scars). There are many skin and health benefits of this colorful red-orange pigment, also found in plants, fruits, and colorful vegetables.
Our bodies transform beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol). Vitamin A can be derived from beta-carotene-rich foods or with supplements. The benefit of the dietary form is that the human body only modifies the amount it requires as needed. Vitamin A in excess quantities can be toxic. Toxic Vitamin A amounts can arise by ingesting a large quantity of the supplement form. If your source is from food, toxicity is preventable. We require Vitamin A for beautiful skin, a healthy immune system and vision, and to produce mucus membranes.
Why beta carotene is essential?
Beta-carotene is regarded as an antioxidant and is also a predecessor to vitamin A. This compound promotes healthier skin while is also crucial to the overall health of the lungs, heart and eyes. In fact, beta-carotene consumption can help decrease coronary artery disease, strokes, macular degeneration, and other age-associated conditions.
Other health benefits of beta carotene:
For skin wellbeing, there is proof that beta-carotene, itself or combined with other carotenoids or antioxidant vitamins can safeguard the skin from damaging UVA/UVB sun rays. However, it is always recommended to apply a broad spectrum sun screen daily (snow, rain or shine). I like Evenly Radiant Day Crème. It’s nano-particle-free so it refracts harmful rays away from the skin. Find it at my shop in the sunscreen section.
Studies reveal that eating at least 3-5 servings of veggies and fruits loaded with beta carotene could help reduce lung cancer. See a list of foods below. It is not apparent if these results can be associated to beta-carotene by itself. For heart health, a variety scientific research studies have connected high blood levels of dietary beta-carotene and alternative carotenoids with a reduced danger of developing illnesses which affect the heart or blood vessels.
For eye health, research indicates that foods containing high levels of beta-carotene and other carotenoids could assist in reducing the advancement of age-associated macular degeneration (degradation of the macula, a portion of the retina responsible for central vision) and cataracts (which cause the eye lens to cloud) leading to loss or reduction of vision if untreated. Also be sure to wear polarized sun glasses to help prevent the onset of cataracts.
For a healthy immune system myriad scientific studies note that beta-carotene and carotenoids, can help prevent some infections.
Which foods are rich in beta-carotene?
Apricots, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, kale, Chinese cabbage, chives, dandelion leaves, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, ketchup, onions, peas, peppers, plums, pumpkin, spinach, squash, herbs and spices including chili powder, oregano, paprika, parsley.
Summer is a great time to put superfoods center stage in your diet.
Superfoods are designated as such because of their powerful antioxidant content and disease-fighting properties.They help boost immunity, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and contribute a host of health benefits to protect and strengthen your system.
Here are a few superfoods that are in season now or make especially good additions to your diet during the warmer months:
Blueberries are in season right now, and if you can find them, make a beeline for the tiny wild ones. These little blue powerhouses are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, plus heaping doses of potassium and vitamin C. Wild blueberries are even more potent sources of antioxidants than their conventionally grown cousins, and are readily available in the freezer section of most health food stores and supermarkets. Toss some of these on your cereal or in your morning smoothie, eat them out of hand, or combine them with other fresh berries for snacks and desserts. When possible, opt for organic to avoid pesticide residue or be sure to rinse very thoroughly before eating.
Humble, inexpensive beans are versatile nutritional superstars. Red, kidney, pinto and black beans are tops in total antioxidant capacity, so be sure to include plenty of these beans in salads, spreads, and side dishes all summer long. Dried are best, so soak a few bags of beans in cold water overnight and then cook up a batch to use all week. Dress them up with herbs and vinaigrettes for a cold side dish, sprinkle them on tacos and salads, or whiz them in the food processor with your favorite seasonings for a tasty alternative to chick pea hummus. (Hummus, by the way, is fine, too!).
Gorgeous, deep pink or coral colored wild salmon can be found fresh in most supermarkets from June – August. Wild Salmon is superior in every way to farm raised in terms of taste and nutritional benefits. It’s an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your heart healthy and your skin glowing. Wild salmon also delivers healthy amounts of vitamin D and selenium, a mineral that is increasingly linked to optimal brain function and also protects your skin from the negative effects of sun exposure. Grill it, broil it, poach it – however you prefer to enjoy this delicious fish, be sure to consume lots of it!
Green or black, be sure to drink lots of freshly brewed iced tea to keep you cool and hydrated and amply supplied with antioxidants all summer long. Green tea has a slight advantage in terms of antioxidant content over black, but both pack an admirable free-radical busting punch. Be careful not to go overboard since both green and black teas contain caffeine, and make sure you choose small amounts of healthy, natural sweeteners or fruit juices if you prefer your tea on the sweet side. Adding spices such as ginger and herbs like mint give a nutritional and flavor boost to plain tea. Go ahead and experiment with your own concoction!
Heading to the ballpark or an air conditioned movie theater to escape the summer heat? Bring along a big bag of sunflower seeds (in the shell) for everyone to enjoy. Sunflower seeds are fun to eat and can keep your mouth occupied for a long time without delivering as many calories as the shelled variety. These little seeds are loaded with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, heart healthy Omega-3 fats, and bone building phosphorus and B vitamins.
Getting these foods into your diet each day isn’t hard and will help keep you in top form all summer. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who make our lives that much more special.