14 Jun 2016


Americans have become obsessed with the idea of eliminating all fats everywhere. I ran across a shampoo a few weeks ago claiming it contained no “harmful fats”. Seriously folks – never forget that you are a mammal, a convoluted evolutionary algorithm whose input determines your output. Fats exist, in the most basic form, as an energy source for organs, both in functional and survival senses. In addition to assisting the body in the absorption of base nutrients, production of hormones, and promotion of HDL cholesterol (beneficial, also known as “high density” cholesterol) when consumed in the proper ratios and amounts.

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This is a confusing area for many people, as the benefits and risks associated with each family of fats fluctuates based on the organization testing them, how results are measured, how tight controls are within the study (exercise, genetic predisposition, etc)
Fats can be broken down into a number of sub categories; dietary fats are either saturated, trans, or unsaturated (both mono and polyunsaturated, meaning basic or complex). Further categorization includes a variety of omega fatty acids, which I will touch on in further detail a bit lower down.
Ideally, under the FDA’s overview of the first category breakdown, your diet should contain little to no saturated or trans-fats, as both have been linked to an increase in dietary LDL cholesterol elevation and arterial inflammation, resulting in an increased likelihood of coronary disease, obesity, and other lipid-linked disorders. While traditionally linked to sugar consumption, the risk of diabetes has been shown to have a more direct link to the intake of saturated fats, namely from animal sources.

Table 1- Dietary fat by sourcing
This is not to say all plant-based fats are beneficial. As evidenced by the above chart, many plant oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Coconut, recently being touted as the “king of oils” for everything from cooking to hair care, runs over 90% saturated fats. Under this first set of logic alone, we should be completely avoiding the bottom third of the chart. However, for those familiar with my article on eggs that CASS released earlier, you’ll most likely not be surprised to hear – QUALITY TRUMPS QUANTITY!

Many current studies on fats, including those funded by the FDA, focus on what is widely available to the consumer base in this country. Not to say they are intentionally misleading, simply that the quality of the information they are working with tends to be geared for lower-quality, high production nutrients due to the ever-increasing rate of factory-farmed/CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) food making it’s way into the market. Butter fats, tallow, and beef have been shown repeatedly in studies to have highly variable amounts of omega-3 to omega-6 ratios, with the “proper diet”, aka what the cow has evolved to actually consume (grasses, pulses, etc) versus the diet that’s currently considered to be the most economically viable (soy and corn) having over triple the 3-to-6 ratio of CAFO products.

Table 2 – Effects of converting cattle feed from pastured to grain-sourced diet.
High omega-6 consumption (in proportion to omega-3, everything lies in dietary balances) has been linked to everything from depression and increased suicide risk to diabetes, carcinogenic potential, obesity, and severe gastrointestinal and joint inflammation. So… why look into the “king” coconut, and palm oil, in addition to your sunflower oils? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again ; everyone is a unique evolutionary algorithm, and your input determines your output. Especially for those suffering with systemic inflammatory issues, your 3-to-6 is most likely more of dietary importance, with the saturated content coming up secondary. A good –modified- table for reference:
Table 3. Omega ratios within popular dietary fats. Note – animal sources used in this chart are CAFO raised.

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Depressive symptoms, omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids, and inflammation in older adults. Psychosom Med. 2007 Apr;69(3):217-24. Epub 2007 Mar 30. Kiecolt-Glaser JK1, Belury MA, Porter K, Beversdorf DQ, Lemeshow S, Glaser R.

See comment in PubMed Commons below

Saturated, but not n-6 polyunsaturated, fatty acids induce insulin resistance: role of intramuscular accumulation of lipid metabolites. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 May;100(5):1467-74. Epub 2005 Dec 15. Lee JS1, Pinnamaneni SK, Eo SJ, Cho IH, Pyo JH, Kim CK, Sinclair AJ, Febbraio MA, Watt MJ.

A high ratio of dietary n-3/n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids improves obesity-linked inflammation and insulin resistance through suppressing activation of TLR4 in SD rats. Nutr Res. 2013 Oct;33(10):849-58. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Aug 9. Liu HQ1, Qiu Y, Mu Y, Zhang XJ, Liu L, Hou XH, Zhang L, Xu XN, Ji AL, Cao R, Yang RH, Wang F.

Table 1- Canola Oil council of Canada website

Table 2- Mindbodyandsole.com

Table 3 – gbHealthWatch.com

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