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Weight Loss Corner

The Right Fats
By Bethany Roberts
Most people seem to know that I encourage low fat diets in order to achieve weight loss and reduce body fat. A question I get a lot is if low fat diets are good then would it not be even better to completely eliminate fat from the diet. The answer is an emphatic NO! The body needs a certain amount of the right kinds of fat in order to perform many essential functions. My objective in this article is to help you understand what the right fats are and where to include them in you diet.
When we talk about fat we are actually talking about fatty acids and there are two types: saturated and unsaturated. Excuse me for delving into a bit of chemistry for a moment but it is necessary in order to understand the difference between saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated means that it is a fat that has all of its carbon atoms "saturated" with hydrogen atoms and cannot hold any more hydrogen. This is important to know because it means this type of fat can only be used by the body for energy and cannot be used in any other way. Since most people derive most of their energy from the carbohydrates in their diets it means that most of the saturated fats that you eat will end being stored as fat somewhere on your body. Unsaturated, on the other hand, means that this type of fat can accept more hydrogen atoms and be changed chemically which means it can be used by the body for a variety of different functions. What you need to understand from all of this chemistry is that saturated fats should be avoided while unsaturated fats are good and even essential for many bodily functions.
I am sure that most of you have heard about essential fatty acids, which are actually unsaturated fats. As the name implies certain fats are required for the body to properly function and without them you would die. There are two essential fatty acids that your body must obtain from your diet: linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. There are several sources for these two essential fatty acids but the best source is Flax Oil, which is comprised of 50% alpha-linolenic acid and 20% linoleic acid. Other good sources are pumpkin seed oil, soybean oil and canola oil.
When choosing a good oil as a source of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid you need to be aware that only unprocessed oils will give you the benefits for which you are looking. Oils that undergo processing change the chemical makeup of the oil enough that they become completely useless to the human body for biological functions. Oils that have been chemically altered by processing are known as trans fatty acids and are widely used in foods today like cooking oils, cookies, candy, bread and many other commonly consumed foods. The way to avoid the useless oils containing only trans fatty acids is to always buy unprocessed oils from organic sources. Flax 1000 by Universal Nutrition is an example of an excellent source of flax oil.
Another way to get the benefits of alpha-linolenic acid is through fish oils. Certain types of fish like salmon, trout, and other deep-sea cold-water fish, contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which can be substituted by the body when there is a lack of alpha-linolenic acid. You will still need a good source for linoleic acid so I would still recommend flax oil each day even if you eat plenty of these types of fish. You can, however, also get plenty of linoleic from such oils as olive, sunflower, almond, and corn so if your diet is rich in these oils and if you also eat a lot of cold water fish you might be able to skip the flax.
By now many of you are probably thinking to yourselves "Wow, I do not take flax oil and I really do not eat cold water fish that often so what health risks do I run by not having the right kinds of fats in my diet?" The answer to that question is all around you. The average American diet is the complete opposite of what we have talked about in that it contains a high amount of saturated fat and very little if any unsaturated fat containing the linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid that your body has to have to function properly. And what are the health risks that most Americans face: Obesity, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Cancer, and Joint Ailments to name a few. If you want to avoid such problems and also have a great looking body then lowering the bad saturated fats in your diet and including the right fats should be of primary importance to you.

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