Fat molecules are deposited in cells or transported to adipose tissue for storage. Killer saturated long chain fatty acids are sticky and the body cannot insert double bonds into these chains to make them unsaturated which could oxidize damaging arteries if the diet is lacking in antioxidants. Fatty acids from sugars interfere with fatty acid function increasing the liklihood of diseases from fatty degeneration. In addition, an excess of sugar consumption can also increase cholesterol levels in the blood.
People on low fats diets generally lose 2-4 pounds during the first few weeks of a diet but then gain it back as the diet progresses. Having the right kind of fats (essential fatty acids) is what contributes to actual weight loss and stability. A survey taken in several European countries found that women who had the lowest fat intake were more likely to be obese but those with the highest fat intake were the least likely to be obese. There did not seem to be any relation between fat intake and obesity in men, however.
A fat substitute is the newest craze. One such is called Olestra by Proctor and Gamble. Olestra starts out as a 12 carbon molecule of sugar which is chemically processed so it can be attached to 6-8 fatty acids which surround and protect the sucrose center. In the mouth, it will trigger the same sensations as fat, but because it is a foreign substance, there will be no enzyme to process it. Therefore, it will slide through the digestive system intact – which most people think is advantageous. However, the problem is this. A fat substitute will affect the fat soluble vitamins and phytochemicals. These nutrients need a fat molecule to carry them into the bloodstream. Fat substitutes are unable to provide that vital service. Instead, they soak up these nutrients carrying them out into the feces. Simplesse by Monsanto is another similar product as is Oatrim, which seems to have fewer negative effects than the other two.
All too often, fats are lumped together in “the bad” category. There are fats that are not only essential to good health but vital to weight stability. As far back as 1902, studies have been done showing that a high carbohydrate-low protein diet dispursed fat – as did a high carbohydrate-high protein diet. We now understand the reason for this. Fats are digested slowly over a 5-8 hour period resulting in a “full” feeling. Carbohydrates take 2-5 hours to digest resulting in hunger pangs striking much sooner leading to overeating. Essential fatty acids increase the metabolic rate helping to mobilize and burn excess saturated fats. The body then loses the craving for food when its need for essential fatty acids (EFA) are satisfied. A poor diet greatly diminishes this control mechanism for hunger and people continue to eat thinking that they are really hungry when they are not.
The naming of fatty acids by scientists can be equated to the struggle any family goes through when faced with a new member joining its ranks. Sometimes a name is formed from the molecular structure and sometimes from where it was located when discovered. Proper names are governed by strict rules laid down by chemists and are decided upon by a committee. From there, these sometimes unwieldy proper names are reduced to nicknames more conducive to pronunciation. A few names derived from their origin of discovery are listed here just for interest sake.
Butyric acid named from butter.
Caproic, caprylic, and capric acids (first found in goat’s milk) from the Latin and astrological sign for goat – Capricorn.
Oleic acid from olive oil.
Linoleic and linolenic acids from the Latin word for flax – linum.
Stearic acid from the Greek root word for fat – stea.
Lauric acid from the laurel family of plants.
Palmitic acid from the palm tree.
Vaccenic acid found in cow’s milk comes from the Latin word for cow – vacca.
Fats are the most concentrated source of energy the body has providing 9 calories per gram compared with 4 calories per gram of either protein or carbohydrates. They supply insulation for the body, protect vital organs with padding, and aid in the absorption and transportation of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Without the proper amounts of essential fats, deteramental health disorders arise leading to autoimmune, inflammatory, and cardiovascular diseases. Those suffering from degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver disorders usually have low levels of EFA in their tissues. These essential fats bring oxygen into the body and the lack of oxygen in the tissues is a key factor in degenerative disease. This type of oxygen is not the same as the destructive form caused by free radicals. EFA carry a slightly negative charge causing them to repel one another. This means they cannot aggragate (clump together) theeby keeping membranes fluid enabling them to carry toxins to the surface of the skin, intestinal tract, kidneys, or lungs where they can be discarded.
EFA are easily destroyed through cooking and processing, therefore, trying to obtain them solely from fish, for example, is not a reliable source. Most fish on the market today comes from “farms” which have much lower levels of EFA than those caught in the “wild”. A more reliable source is cold-pressed ‘Omega’oils. Dairy products are also a very poor source of EFA with shellfish having the lowest content.
FATS are comprised of glycerol, saturated fatty acids, monosaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids with each playing a different role in the body.
Glycerol can be manufactured by the body when supplies run low. The glucose molecule is split making two glycerol molecules when the body needs to make fats (triglycerides) out of excess sugars absorbed from the diet. Pharmaceutical preparations are called glycerin.
Saturated fatty acids form part of all membranes in the body but are used mainly as fuel. When there are too many calories in the diet from an excess of refined sugar, starches, etc, the excess must be taken out of the energy factory to prevent the Krebs cycle from “burning too hot.” The body makes saturated fatty acids out of these excesses and stores them as body fat. In saturated fats, the carbons in the chain are completely “saturated” with all the hydrogen they can carry. Saturated fats form relatively straight chains that bunch closely together and the result is a dense, solid fat that does not melt at room temperature. Saturated fatty acids decrease the oxygen supply to body tissues (hypoxia) choking them by making the red blood cells stick together becoming less mobile and less able to transport oxygen, common in many degenerative diseases.
Saturated fats include: (The first number represents the number of carbon atoms in their chain and the second number represents the double bonds, if any, and a third number will indicate their position in the chain. See also under Unsaturated fats and Superunsaturated fats).
1) Butyric acid (4:0) is found in butter. Butyric acid helps feed the friendly bacteria and is the shortest saturated fatty acid. It also dissolves in water.
2) Caproic acid (6:0) is partially water soluble as is caproic acid.
3) Caprylic acid (8:0) inhibits the growth of yeasts and candidas in the intestinal tract by incorporating itself into the membranes of yeast cells causing them to rupture and die. Saturated fatty acids of longer than 8 carbons do not dissolve in water but readily dissolve in oil.
4) Capric acid (10:0)
5) Lauric acid (12:0)
6) Myristic acid (14:0)
7) Palmitic acid (16:0) is found in large amounts in tropical fats such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel.
8) Stearic acid (18:0) is found in large amounts in beef, mutton, pork, butter, cocoa butter, and shea nut butter. 9) Arachidic acid (20:0) (NOT arachidonic acid) is found in peanuts.
Monounsaturated fats are used in the membranes similar to saturated fatty acids and can be broken down to produce energy in the same way by the same enzymes. When there is a deficiency of essential fatty acids, the monounsaturated fatty acids try to make up for the loss but are not completely able to do so. A monounsaturated fatty acid molecule has one double bond between the carbon atoms not saturated with hydrogen atoms. Thus the reason for the prefix of ‘mono’. If the first double bond on the molecule is at the 3rd carbon from the methyl end, it becomes an Omega 3 fatty acid. If the first double bond appears on the 6th carbon from the methyl end, an Omega 6 fatty acid is formed.
Monounsaturated fats consist of:
1) w7’s (palmitoleic acid – POA) is found in tropical oils. The body is able to convert POA into several other forms of w7’s. People have constantly been warned of the dangers of palm and cocoanut oils because of the monounsaturated fatty acid called palmitoleic acid, yet, few even mention that this acid is also found in milk.
2) w9’s (oleic acid – OA) is found in large quantities in olives, almonds, avocados, peanuts, pecans, cashew, filberts, and macadamias and in the oils of canola, hazelnuts, and pistachios. Land animal fats and butter also contain some.
Foods rich in monounsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature and semi-solid when refrigerated. Up to the mid 1980’s, it was believed that monounsaturated fats had a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels. However, research since then has revealed that by replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats can be more effective in lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol than by using polyunsaturated fats alone. However, an excess of monounsaturated fats can lead to health problems through the interference of the chemical conversions of essential fatty acids into prostaglandins.
Unsaturated fats consist of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and superunsaturated fatty acids. In unsaturated fats, the carbons carry less hydrogen making either mono or polyunsaturated. Because these chains do not have a full set of hydrogen atoms, the chain kinks and cannot bunch together resulting in them being more liquid at room temperature. The fewer the hydrogen atoms, the more kinks in the chain and the more fluid the fat.
The following is a general rule of whether a fat will be fluid or solid:
a) up to 8 carbons is liquid at room temperature.
b) up to 10 carbons is liquid at body temperature.
c) more than 10 carbons is solid at body temperature.
The body metabolizes up to 12 carbon fatty acids to produce energy and are NOT stored as fat. For this reason they are incorporated into diets of those with digestive or liver problems and are also popular with athletes. However, too many medium chain fatty acids will produce an unpleasant scratchy sensation at the back of the throat. Therefore, only 1 or 2 tablespoons per day should be used for this purpose.
Superunsaturated fats are often referred to as ‘Omega 3’ EFA which include:
1) Stearidonic acid [SDA](18:4w3) is found in black current seed oil.
2) Eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA](20:5w3) is manufactured by the body to make series 3 prostaglandins.
3) Docosahexaenoic acid [DHA](22:6w3), and EPA are found in cold water fish and marine animals. Salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and others are the riches sources of these fatty acids containing up to 30% combined. Among the land animals, the brain, eyeballs, adrenal glands, and testes are the richest sources of these two fatty acids which explains why primitive tribes prized these organs and ate them raw immediately after a kill.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are often referred to simply as ‘Omega 6’ EFA and occur when a fatty acid has two or more double bonds between the carbon atoms. These include:
1) Linoleic acid [LA](18:2w6) is found in safflower, sunflower, hemp, soybean, walnut, pumpkin, sesame, and flax oils. New genetic varieties of high oleic safflower and high oleic sunflower now contain only small quantities of LA whereas before they were the richest sources.
2) Gamma-linolenic acid [GLA](18:3w6) is found in primrose, borage leaves, and spirulina but it can also be made by the body through conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (LNA). Gamma-linolenic acid is almost totally absent from mother’s milk despite claims to the contrary. Human milk does contain DGLA (dibomogamma-linolenic acid) from which the body produces series 1 prostaglandins. Borage is the richest source at more than 20%. Black currant oil contains about 15% and evening primrose oil consists of 9% GLA.
3) Arachidonic acid [AA](20:4w6) is found in small amounts in animal fats and can be made in the body through the conversion of linolenic acid. It is not found in peanut oil despite claims.
Functions of Essential Fatty Acids:
1) EFA are the precursors for the production of prostaglandins which govern vitality, growth, mental state, and energy production.
2) EFA are necessary for oxygen transfer and have the ability to hold that oxygen in cell membranes acting as a barrier to viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other foreign invaders.
3) EFA speed healing by reducing inflammation in some immune dysfunctions such as arthritis.
4) EFA inhibit tumor growth.
5) EFA assist in hemoglobin production – vital to life.
6) EFA hold proteins, as well as oxygen, within cell membranes helping to create electrical currents for neurological transmission. Faulty transmissions result in nervous disorders.
7) EFA facilitate the conversion of lactic acid to water to carbon dioxide thereby speeding up muscular fatigue recovery.
8) EFA maintain stability in cell division by protecting chromosomes.
A deficiency of the proper fats will retard growth, and produce eczema/acne/dry skin/and dandruff, dry/dull/brittle/and sparse hair, soft/brittle/flaking nails, dry eyes and mouth, diarrhea, allergies, varicose veins, decreased or increased weight, gallstones, decreased radiation resistance, heart disease, cancers, deterioration of skin, sterility, swollen joints, liver deterioration, fatigue, emotional agitation, decreased immunity, decreased T cell production. Too much will also produce an abnormal weight gain diminishing the metabolism.
Inhibitors of the essential fats are: saturated fats, saturated fatty acids, nonessential fatty acids, trans fatty acids, alcohol, diabetes, aging, cholesterol, heat, oil processing, oxygen, ferrous sulfate, viral infections, radiation, cancer, and a decreased intake of Vitamins C and zinc.
Helpers required for assimilation include: Vitamins A, B3a, B6, B12, B15, Bt, C, D, E, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and polyunsaturated fats.
Metabolism of Fats:
The body cells use long chain saturated fatty acids to build cell membranes. SFA (saturated fatty acids) have a tendency to aggragate (clump together) while the tendency of UFA (unsaturated fatty acids) is to disperse. Both kinds are found in cell membranes and both kinds are needed for balance. By keeping UFA chains physically separated from each other, SFA are then able to function in the role of “peacekeepers” by preventing UFA from taking part in unwanted chemical reactions with one another. The body rapidly absorbs all kinds of sugars and turns them into SFA and diets high in animal products contain large amounts of long chain fatty acids. Long chain SFA are solid at body temperature and insoluble in water. They also clump together into sticky platelets that form blood clots causing cardiovascular disease. While the body has the ability to turn excess sugars into fat, it does not have the ability to reverse the procedure. Fat can only be burned off through activity.