Quality Is Everything

I love fat. If you have read a few of my earlier posts, like this one, you will now be saying “Yes Chris, we know”. But there are a few things I should cover if you are going to include fat in your diet. I have always been a fan of eating good food and believe that quality is everything. All the sickness and weight gain you see in society is due to poor quality foods and choices. So here is my guide to the right fats that you should eat.

Polyunsaturated fat is one that everyone knows is one of the good fats. But is it? A study found that eating omega 6 polyunsaturated fats without omega 3, increased the risk of heart disease.  Here is an extract – These findings indicate that dietary advice to consume more ‘polyunsaturated fats’ (PUFA) by using vegetable oils to replace solid fats like butter, lard or hard margarines may actually increase the risk of heart disease if the vegetable oils only contain omega-6 PUFA. (Ramsden CE, Hibbeln JR, Majchrzak SF, Davis JM. (2010) Br J Nutr. 2010 Dec;104(11):1586-600.PMID: 21118617) 

Please note, I completely disagree with margarine being included in this quote. It’s terrible stuff!

Most polyunsaturated fats are high in omega 6 which is actually a pro inflammatory fat compared to omega 3 which is anti inflammatory. As there is so much talk around today about heart disease being an inflammatory condition, it’s not surprising that high omega 6 polyunsaturated fats are linked with heart disease.

The most common sources of Omega 6 polyunsaturated fats are vegetable oils and margarines. The oils that most people in the medical industry recommend you eat more of. Funny when you look into high fat diets, polyunsaturated fats are the ones we can least tolerate in high amounts. They cause gastrointestinal (G.I.) stress. The only common source of polyunsaturated fats that contain omega 3 is fish oil and cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is actually a very rich source of dietary cholesterol. If you are new to my writing, this is actually a good thing.

Monounsaturated fats are another one we will look at. The best sources being things like avocado, olive oil etc. These fats are great. Eat as much as you like, we can actually tolerate them in large amounts without any G.I. stress. The North American Inuit’s actually revered these fats very highly as they were able to be stored for long periods of time without them going rancid. Great for when you had to store your foods for up to a year when there was limited access to fresh foods.

The next one is the most controversial one, saturated fats. Ask most people and you are mad if you include these fats in your diet. They raise your cholesterol and may be linked to an increased rate of heart disease which I covered in more detail in this post. But what is true is that it does raise your cholesterol. Your HDL cholesterol, or your good cholesterol. It lowers your LDL cholesterol, the so called bad stuff, which is completely untrue. The bad stuff is actually VLDL cholesterol.

VLDL, or Very Low Density Lipoproteins, are also known as oxidized cholesterol. HDL and LDL are really just transporters to and from the liver to do their work, so they are both good. When we eat high sugar/carbohydrate or high polyunsaturated fat meals (especially margarines), the LDL gets oxidized, or damaged and becomes a particle that gets stuck in your arteries. People who eat diets high in saturated fats, actually have much lower levels of VLDL than people on low fat diets.

Some of the healthiest fats out there are actually saturated fats. Medium chain triglycerides, which I spoke about in this post, like coconut oil and dairy fats are converted straight into energy and not stored as fat at all. In fact they stimulate the body’s ability to burn fat. Which as runners, fat is a far more reliable and cleaner source of fuel than carbohydrate for many reasons.

So get some good fat into your diet. Your body will love you for it! Just stay away from that processed polyunsaturated stuff. It will do you no good.

Run Well

Chris O’Driscoll

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