For the past few decades, we’ve been bombarded with the message “Fat is bad food!” Every women’s magazine, every sports magazine, every men’s magazine, every health magazine includes at least one article or advertisement about how the consumption of fat will subtract years from your life by causing degenerative disease, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes. To listen to the experts, you would think fat isn’t an essential part of the human diet.
We’ve already learned that it’s no accident that nature distributed fat abundantly throughout the food chain. Fat is an extremely beneficial food. For example, fat is used to build hormones, some of which regulate blood pressure, heart rate, vascular dilation, blood clotting, immune response, and the central nervous system. Fat makes up a substantial part of the cell membrane of over three trillion cells, making the cell wall permeable so that nutrients can get into the cell and waste materials can be excreted from the cell, and rigid so that the shape holds firm against the pressure of the surrounding environment. Along with protein, fat acts as a receptor on the cell wall to invite nutrients and hormones into the cell.
Fat keeps the skin soft and supple and helps to avoid premature wrinkling of the skin. Fat is an excellent energy source, particularly for the heart. And fat keeps the metabolism running fast!
We need fat in our diets. The problem comes when we eat far too much of the wrong types of fats.
An important rule of thumb I personally follow is that I never eat anything that has been put together in a chemist’s lab, including new food artifacts like the “fat substitute” Olestra. These substances are toxic. They do not build the type of long-term, vibrant health I want for my body. They do not perform all those important functions listed above. On top of that, they taste bad!
The types of fats you want to include in your diet are the raw, unprocessed vegetable oils like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and the oils from nuts and seeds. You need to include the fats found in fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and halibut. These oils are extremely beneficial in protecting the heart and nourishing the nervous system. I encourage all my clients to include at least two to four tablespoons of raw oils in their diets each day by making salad dressings from olive oil, by using flaxseed oil in their morning protein drink, and by eating vegetables that are rich in essential fats (avocados and nuts and seeds, such as sesame, almond, and other nut products). Flaxseed oil is a nutritious oil from flax that can be purchased from your local health food store. Be sure to keep it refrigerated. It oxidizes rapidly if not preserved carefully.
You will need to include about half the amount of fat as your protein requirement, gram for gram. For example, if you require fifty-five grams of protein per day, you will wish to enjoy about twenty-five to thirty grams of fat. If you require seventy-five grams of protein, increase that amount to about thirty-five to forty grams of fat. Don’t worry too much about the fat content of the diet. If you are eating whole, natural foods, the fat will balance itself out without your help. Just restrict yourself to the healthy fats described above. Potato chips, ice cream, and deep-fried chicken must not be included!