Sunday, March 8, 2009

What Is Fat? By Nell Stephenson

By definition, a fat is various compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that are glycerides of fatty acids, a major class of energy rich food. Fat functions not only as an energy source, but also as an integral part of hormone regulation, neurological impulses and our immune system!We all know, more or less, that certain foods are fattening, while others are not. Many people find themselves confused with regard to which fats are part of a healthy diet. To make matters worse, with the different trends that we've seen in the multi-million dollar diet industry, some are confused as to whether to eat any fat at all! Remember the low-fat craze of the early 90's? Many fell prey to the industry's message that fat was bad, and processed carbs were good, so people ate more fat-free (processed) products then ever. The unfortunate thing about this was that the fat in their diet could have come from more natural sources like oils and nuts, rather than processed, white-sugary, floury foods! Even worse, because these foods were fat free, people thought that meant they could eat as much as they wanted without consequences.WRONG!To keep it simple, one needn't worry about understanding the biochemistry of how a fat acts in the body (I'd be telling a huge fib if I claimed to be a chemist! : ) At any rate, stick with the Paleo recommendations and DO include healthy fat in your diet. You'll find yourself more satisfied and fueled for longer periods of time if you've included some avocado, or olive oil or raw walnuts along with your meal than if you'd opted for something with only carbohydrates.AVOID artificial or altered types of fat, especially hydrogenated oils (that are more and more prevalent in processed food these days, which is great from the manufacturer's point of view because it increases shelf life!). As always, on the odd occasion that you might have to choose a packaged food item, be diligent about reading the label to ensure there's nothing in it that you cannot identify (and therefore shouldn't put in your body!). Keep it natural and simple, and don't be afraid to eat some fat - your body needs it!

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