Chapter 3. The Facts on Fats

Fat is Good For You [1]
Contrary to popular belief, fat is not some ugly beast that lurks in our food just to do us harm. It is a valuable, even an essential, nutrient. Simply put, fat is good for you. It nourishes the body and can help protect you from disease.

All natural fats are good. However, good fats can become bad if they are adulterated by man or consumed in excess. Some fats are better for us than others. Some can be consumed in larger amounts than others. Some need to be eaten in balance with others. Some fats, those that are adulterated or man-made, should not be eaten at all. The problem is that most of us are confused as to which are which.

Advertising and marketing propaganda has greatly influenced and distorted our perception of dietary fats. We are told to reduce our fat intake to the bare minimum in order to lose excess weight and be healthy. In addition, some fats are portrayed as being good while others are bad. Saturated fats, including palm oil, get the brunt of the criticism and are blamed for contributing to just about every health problem experienced by mankind. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, and shortening on the other hand, are hailed as the "good" fats. The truth is that most saturated fats, and particularly palm oil, are some of the healthiest you can eat. In contrast, many polyunsaturated fats are so far removed from their natural state and often chemically altered as to become a serious health threat.

Natural fats, which have undergone as little processing and adulteration as possible are the most healthy, regardless of whether they are saturated or unsaturated. People from all walks of life and throughout history have been eating natural fats without experiencing the health problems we commonly face today. These fats are not the troublemakers.

Fats are, in fact, vital nutrients that our bodies rely on to achieve and maintain good health. We need fat in our diet. Almost all foods in nature contain fat to one extent or another. An adequate amount of fat is necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

Fats slow down the movement of food through the stomach and digestive system. This allows more time for foods to bathe in stomach acids and be in contact with digestive enzymes. As a consequence, more nutrients, especially minerals which are normally tightly bound to other compounds, are released from our foods and absorbed into the body.

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