Monday, July 28, 2014

Some Fats Are Good For You! (And you can grow some of them in your garden . . . )

We know that too much of the wrong kinds of fat are very bad for health.  However, what a few people may not know, yet, is that too little of the right kinds of fat is really just as bad.

Our cell walls are only three molecules thick.  These three molecules consist of one protein molecule sandwiched between, drum roll please, two fat molecules.  

The layer of these three molecules provide our cells with their first line of defense against invading disease organisms, toxins, and allergens.  They also are directly involved with helping to ensuring proper cell electrical activity, and corralling nutrients, enzymes, and other important biochemicals within the cell where they are needed.

In addition to being a major part of our cell walls, good fat is also used in the transportation of nutrients, as insulation for our brain and nerve cells, as a source of energy, and as raw materials for the synthesis of many biochemicals that help our cells perform the tasks that keep us alive.  Good fat rules!

We need good fats in our diet for many metabolic reasons, as well as maintaining our very important cell walls.  As cells come in many shapes and sizes, including sources of a small amount of a handful of different types of good fats important.  By doing so, the body has lots of shapes and sizes of fat molecules to choose from in building and repairing the three dimensional jig-saw puzzles that make up our cell walls, as well as having a variety of essential fatty acids for all of our cells chores.

There are many different kinds of good fats available.  Some of the best are from plants, and ingesting them in as raw and unprocessed as possible is a good idea.   Animal fats are generally better avoided (except for low mercury high Omega 3 fish) unless the animals they come from have been raised on organic pasture.  Butter, butter oil, and ghee from organic pastured milk are super-foods! 
Once you get your chosen oils or fats home, heat them as little as possible before using.  Heating vegetable based oils even a little, or animal fats to the point of smoking, causes then to form free radicals—which are implicated in cancer and heart disease.  Frying and baking should be reserved for special occasions and is best not a daily part of anyone’s diet.

Are you getting too much bad fat?

Signs that you are getting too much of the wrong kinds of fat can include; indigestion, reflux, greasy hair or skin, acne or other skin eruptions, and obesity or weight gain.  If you have been getting too much of the bad fats for a long time, you may have been diagnosed with any number of different diseases and your doc has probably advised you to cut back on fats.  Pay attention!  It might just save you from some unnecessary suffering.

Benefits of good fats include:

Improved immunity, mood, mental function, hormone balance, and energy; and also the health and appearance of the skin.

Signs you may not be getting enough good fats include:

Memory, mood, or brain function problems, hormone related problems, chronic fatigue, inability to gain weight or to absorb and utilize nutrients, dry skin or hair, premature aging, and chronic inflammation.

Finding good fats that agree with you:

You can experiment with adding a variety of different healthy fats to your diet, in small amounts and one at a time.  In addition to the organic pastured butter, butter oil, and ghee mentioned above, you might want to try some nuts and seeds.  Walnuts are considered a particularly good source of Omega-3’s as are flax and chia seeds.  Avocados, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and unprocessed red palm oil are good sources of Vitamin E complex as well as other nutrients.  Olive oil has many health benefits as does grape seed and coconut oil.  Choose one to try and read up on it by searching on the Internet.  You might want to start with as little as ¼ teaspoon of pressed or centrifuged oils, or a teaspoon of whole seeds or chopped nuts.  

If you find you like a particular healthy oil or good fat, work your way up to higher amounts gradually.  Most moderately active people will find that they can tolerate, enjoy, and actually thrive on much more healthy fat than they ever imagined.  However, if you find you are gaining unwanted weight, getting indigestion or reflux, of if you skin is breaking out or your skin or hair is becoming too oily, you are very likely either getting too much fat or ingesting a fat that doesn’t agree with you.

Good fats from the garden:

Depending on your garden zone and the size of your yard, you can grow oil producing trees and shrubs of many kinds including pine nuts, olives, and avocados.  Pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds are also easy to grow.  Folks living in warm dry regions can grow chia, and anyone living in a tropical climate who has some patience can grow coconuts and palm nuts.  

Red Palm Oils I have tried:  

I actually like the one on the far right the best.  It is from Wilderness Family Naturals.  It is clearly the least processed, it has the deepest color, and the freshest loveliest scent.  This fabulous red palm oil is Certified Sustainable I use just a little red palm oil, along with a little coconut oil and olive oil on my popcorn; and then I season it with turmeric rich curry powder, dulse powder, fresh ground chia seeds and black pepper. Yum, and so good for you too!   For more information on the health benefits of red palm oil please see:

In other good fat gossip, I also snack on whole raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds--in moderation,  and I enjoy chia seeds hydrated in dilute juice with spices.  An occasional avocado wedge finds its way to my plate, and I sometimes alternate the coconut oil mentioned above with an organic raw pastured coconut/ghee product.  Additionally I eat eat a few small servings of wild Alaska salmon--sometimes every week, sometimes every month. That about rounds up my fats, except for the teaspoon of organic sunflower oil that I use to pop my corn. It can take the heat required without smoking.  Any time you make oil smoke it forms free radicals, and that is definitely not healthy.

I do mention fats and oils, very briefly in my book, Food Security & Sustainability for the Times Ahead, but more from the standpoint of how to produce them with the least technology possible, rather than as a source of super nutrition.   If you have any questions or comments on that section of the book, please feel free to post them here as well as questions or comments on this blog post. 

If any of you are growing and expressing your own oils and you have information available for folks that would also like to try  their hand at doing it themselves, please let us know where to find your article, blog, video, or book!

And as always, if you find typos please let me know, I will fix them as soon as I can!


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