Chapter 5: The Truth About Fat: It’s not what you think
You can’t talk about cholesterol without also talking about fat. Lets clear up some misconceptions about fat- What is it? What it does? What it doesn’t Do? and Why it matters in the first place?
What exactly is fat anyway?
Fat is the collective shorthand name given to any big collection of smaller units called fatty acids. You can think of “Fat” and “Fatty Acids” as analogous to paper money and a bunch of coins. The dollar bill is the “Fat” and the coins are the “Fatty Acids”. Just as the dollar bill can comprise different combinations of coins – one hundred pennies, four quarters, ten dimes, twenty nickles and so forth – a “Fat” comprises different combinations of fatty acids. There are more fatty acids in a big fat blob of butter than in just a spoonful, just as there are more coins in $5 than there are in $1. All fat on Earth is composed of fatty acids, whether a spoonful of butter, a tub of lard, or a tablespoon of fish oil. The only difference is they are a different mix of fatty acids (i.e. nickels, dimes quarters, etc.)
There are three families of fatty acids: Saturated, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated. Then there is the “Trans Fats”, a kind of “Franken Fat.” Suffice to say, the overall mix of fats and the breakdown of the various fatty acid combinations is very complex. Lets skip to the less boring information. Saturated Fats are primarily found in animal foods, such as eggs, butter, cheese and meats. A few saturated fats are from plant oils such at coconut and palm oil. These fats are not the big contributors of heart disease. Ok, there is no shortage of studies pointing to an association between increased saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk, but there are a few things you should know about these studies. It is true that saturated fat intake can raise cholesterol levels, but it raises the good cholesterol, not the bad. Next week we will look at Vegetable Oils and Canola Oils.Share