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The Skinny on Fats
By Rosalind Haney, RN, CCN

ALL fats have value, even saturated fats and even the cholesterol they contain.
These fats are especially important for babies and children to ensure proper growth and development of the brain and nervous system. In fact, mother’s milk delivers 50 percent of its calories as fat to support this growth.

Saturated fats and cholesterol are also critical to your fertility, as they are precursors to the production of adequate sex hormones and cell membranes. They are also necessary for the absorption of essential nutrients and the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, a nutrient so vital to fertility.

Therefore, growing children and potential mothers should eat only regular fat foods and have a healthy oil or fat at each meal and snack.

Although all fats have value, there are two factors that can change a healthy fat into a harmful fat, so the choices you make are extremely important.

1. When oil’s natural configuration is changed through heating, oxidation, processing, and homogenization it becomes unhealthy. Examples are:

  • Rancid fats: Oils become rancid from high, repeated heating and from long and improper storage. Choose the right oil for the temperature you are using to cook (see below). Never reuse oil – use once and discard. Store oils in a cool place away from light and heat, or purchase oil in tins or dark bottles for less light exposure.
  • Trans fats: Hydrogen is forced into liquid vegetable oils at high temperatures to make them more solid at room temperature, cheaper for processed foods, and to yield a longer shelf life. But this hydrogenation process changes the chemical structure of the fat molecule so that our bodies do not recognize it and therefore cannot process it. These “foreign” trans-fatty acids get deposited into cell membranes altering their function. Trans fats are much more harmful to the body than saturated fats will ever be. [Recent studies show that the risk of infertility increased by 73% when a woman ate just 2% of her calories from trans fats. This was related to the interference of the activity of a cell receptor involved in inflammation, glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. See “In the News” menu bar for study details.]

    Warning: A product can state “No Trans Fats” on its label and still contain up to .5 grams of trans fats. Therefore it would take only 8 servings of foods that say “No Trans Fats” to get 4 grams of trans fats that studies show adversely affect your fertility.

    To avoid hidden trans fats, read food labels and avoid any product containing “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils. Margarine, most fried foods, commercial baked goods and packaged snacks contain trans fats and should be avoided.

2. When fats are contaminated with chemical toxins they become unhealthy. Man-made chemicals and environmental estrogens are fat-soluble and even low doses can become more concentrated higher up in the food chain. Cows and chickens eat contaminated grasses and grains and are fed hormones and antibiotics, which then become concentrated in their milk, meat and eggs. When we eat these foods the contaminants store in our fat and sexual organs – and are passed on to the developing fetus. [Current studies show mothers who ate multiple servings of beef daily, had sons who as men had a 24% reduction in sperm count. See “In the News” menu bar for study details.]

There is a way to get the fats and proteins so beneficial to your fertility, pregnancy, and child without the harmful contaminants:

  • All fat-containing foods (butter, meat, dairy, eggs and oils) should be “certified organic”. Certified organic is guaranteed to be pesticide, herbicide and drug free, and will have a higher nutrient value.
  • All meats should be lean with most of the visible fat removed.
  • Avoid commercial cow’s milk. The modern cow and the processing of milk have altered any benefits it once held. Limit consumption of dairy to those products that are cultured or fermented, a process that aids in its digestion and value. Choose organic whole-fat yogurt, kefir, butter or cultured buttermilk.
  • Goat milk and goat (or sheep) hard-aged cheese may be an alternative to cow’s dairy. Goats are less likely to have added contaminants and their milk proteins are easier to digest. [Manchego 6-month aged sheep cheese is my personal favorite.]
  • It is not advised that you substitute with soymilk. Soy is difficult to digest, highly allergenic, may cause thyroid dysfunction and during pregnancy may affect the sexual development of the male fetus due to soy’s feminizing hormonal effects.

A Guide to Healthy Oil and Fat Choices

Oils for extreme heats (such as deep frying):
Peanut oil, refined (refining reduces nutritional value, but is more heat stable)
Safflower oil, Super, refined (developed for high heats)
Coconut oil, refined or unrefined
Palm Fruit oil, refined

Note: Canola, corn, soy and cotton are four of the most common genetically engineered crops. Canola oil is also considered by some to be unsuited for human consumption.

Best quality oils to choose for cooking (heat stable for baking, sautéing, pan frying):
Olive oil, (cold-pressed, extra virgin, unrefined, organic)
Peanut oil
Grapeseed oil
Coconut oil
Organic Butter – high in fat-soluble vitamins, which promotes reproduction

Best oils for salad dressings:
Flax seed oil Avocado oil
Sesame oil Olive oil
Walnut oil

When cooking with low heat or no heat (as in salad dressings) use oils in their most natural state to preserve the nutritional value and flavor. For this purpose choose oils that are unrefined, unprocessed, unhydrogenated, cold pressed and organic.

Oils as supplements:
Fish oils (DHA) Evening primrose oil
Flaxseed oil Borage oil
Black current oil

Sources of fats to include in your meals and snacks:
Sunflower seeds *Oily fish Olives
Sesame seeds Venison Seaweed
Pumpkin seeds Eggs (organic) Avocado
Walnuts Chicken (organic)
Almonds and other nuts Game birds

Please see “Minimize Your Mercury Intake with Safe Seafood Choices”.

Fats to have in smaller amounts:
Organic meats such as beef, pork and lamb
Organic dairy (fermented dairy the preferred choice)

Fats to avoid
Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
Commercial fried foods

In summary, I encourage you to change your thinking about fats. Low fat and no fat foods so promoted in our society have not made anyone skinny, nor has it reduced heart disease.

With the exception of rancid and trans fats as described above, it may not be the fats in our diet that are causing a nation of obesity. Alcohol, sugars, and refined starches not burned for energy are metabolized in the body to form triglycerides, which are stored as body fat. Stress encourages this storage around the abdomen as a quick fuel source. Stress also increases insulin, which promotes fat storage and inhibits fat release. The resulting abdominal fat is the most detrimental to your health.

Whether you eat a traditional diet or a vegetarian diet, including healthy fats and oils at each meal will promote growth in your children and sustain your reproduction. If you feel that your diet is lacking in healthy fats, please contact Rosalind for a fertility or pregnancy diet evaluation.

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