People tend to be very black and white regarding how they view fat intake – from fat is great to fat is the cause of all disease. Of course, neither position is correct. The types of fat you consume and the ratios of these fats along with other constituents of your diet determine how healthy or unhealthy fat intake is!
Having said there is one type of fat is clearly terrible for your health: partially hydrogenated fat aka “trans fats”. In fact there are two types of trans fats – naturally occurring and man-made and you guessed it – the man-made trans fats are the problem! You need to avoid them like the plague. These man-made fats were created to improve shelf-life of products rather than using saturated fats which are also shelf-stable.
Almost all pre-packaged foods contain trans fats including margarine and spreads, store bought cookies, cake and pie crusts; frozen pizza; canned biscuits and rolls; crackers and potato chips and fried foods.
Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol and directly increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Another fat that is the cause of much disease is the excessive consumption of Linoleic Acid. Linoleic acid is an Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid and is required to produce various hormones and essential chemicals in our bodies. The problem is that we are eating a whole lot more of these fats than our bodies were designed to handle. When you consume too much – which the vast majority of Americans do – its is broken down into toxic metabolites such as aldehydes and acrolein resulting in chronic inflammation.
Excessive linoleic acid acts as a biological poison and is cytotoxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic and causes fat cells to store more fat!
Where does Linoleic Acid come from in our diet?
Within the last 150 years human consumption of vegetable oils/fats has sky-rocketed – take a look at most mayonnaise, salad dressing, and snack foods and you will almost always see soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, or other nut or vegetable oil. With few exceptions these fat sources are chock full of linoleic acid. The consumption of vegetable oils in the US has increased from less than 2 grams per day in 1860 to 80 grams per day as of 2010. In 1900, 99% of added fats where from animal fats (mostly saturated fat). In 2005, 85% of added fats were from vegetable oils.
There is a clear and strong correlation between common health conditions and vegetable oil intake – there is NO correlation between naturally occurring animal based saturated fats and disease. This is not to say that some people do not experience increased levels of cholesterol from saturated fat intake but that is not the norm!
What is the Answer?
Avoiding trans fats and excessive linoleic acid is pretty simple: