Is Fat A Necessary Part Of My Diet? Part 1

Fat is thought to be the culprit in many disease processes including heart disease and obesity. As a result grocery store shelves are now lined with new products targeted at you the consumer who wants to lose weight and remain healthy. There are dozens of low-fat or even no fat items that seem very appealing. We are told to buy margarine instead of butter and that synthetic fats such as olean or olestra will allow us to eat our favorites snacks without the fat calories. Many of these products contain chemicals that do not have a positive effect on your health. And is fat really the culprit? Do we even need fat at all?

Yes! Fat is absolutely necessary for good health. It is required for brain function and heart function. Did you know that your brain is made up of more than 60% fat! Your brain needs essential fats in the form of unsaturated fatty acids for normal growth and development. We will talk more about these essential fatty acids and why we need them later. But first I would like to take a moment to discuss cholesterol. Many of you are concerned about high cholesterol causing heart disease and stroke. Many of you are now eating low cholesterol or no cholesterol diets to avoid these ailments and make certain that your blood levels are below the magic number of 200.

Cholesterol is a vital component of every cell in our bodies. It is the insulation that surrounds every nerve in the body. As a matter of fact, it represents 50% of the nervous system. It is an important component of hormones and helps regulate the exchange of nutrients and waste products. Without it we could not convert sunlight to vitamin D. 80% of all the cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver, which produces 1,000 to 2,000mg per day. Studies have demonstrated that the more cholesterol that is consumed in the diet the less the body produces and vice versa. The body can balance cholesterol adequately under normal circumstances regardless of diet. The key word here is “normal” where the body is functioning properly. Cholesterol levels seem to be affected by a hypoactive thyroid, smoking, drugs, a lack of exercise, stress, sugar consumption, and diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and gallstones. With these factors aside it then appears that the type of fat consumed is also important. Read about the importance of vitamins here.

In Part 2 we will talk about good fat vs. bad fat!