Top 5 Dietary Fat Myths Busted

By Kim McDevitt, MPH RD on August 28, 2017

top-5-fat-myths

Top 5 Fat Myths

The discussion around fats and our diet has gone across the spectrum and back again. There was a time when we were told to avoid fats of any form, launching the fat-free dietary craze and then we ran in the complete opposite direction, thanks to Atkins and the low-carb lifestyle, practically maxing out our dietary fat intake.

So where’s the line? How much is too much and what’s not enough? And, if you are going to eat fat, what foods are best? Because, you’ve likely heard, not all fats are equal.

Let’s work through some of beliefs and notions and schools of thought around dietary fat, all while understanding one bottom line. Not all fats are not bad. But, the type of fat and how much fat you eat MATTERS.

Myth 1: No form of dietary fat is okay to eat

Yes, there are dietary fats that you should limit. These include avoiding trans-fats and saturated fats, due to their ability to raise cholesterol and potentially have negative consequences on your health . Avoid these fats by limiting your intake of foods that are high in these fats, including butter, meats, margarine as well as processed and deep fried foods.

However, these are not the only types of dietary fat. There are also “good fats” which include mono-unsaturated fats and poly-unsaturated fat that includes Omega-3 fatty acids. When these are eaten in moderation and replace trans-fats and saturated fats, they have the potential to have positive affect on heart health.

Beyond heart health, dietary fat also helps with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, vitamin A,D, E and K.  Foods with this type of fat include olive oil, sesame oil, avocado, peanut butter and many nuts and seeds. Omega-3 ALA is a fatty acid that cannot be made in the body, therefore you must get them from your diet. Omega-3 ALA can convert into different types of fatty acids once in your body, These are known as DHA and EPA with plant based source being ALA. Walnuts, flaxseed oil and ground flax, chia or hemp seed are high in Omega-3s ALA.

Myth 2: Fat-Free Foods are a smart snack choice

There was a time when it seemed every food marketed and manufactured was fat-free or offered a fat-free alternative.  Fat tastes good! And fats are also slower to digest in our body (Mahan, Kathleen. et al (2012). Krause’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process. Elsevier/Saunders. 13th edition.  , versus carbohydrates). So, with the removal of fat the addition of other ingredients including sugar, salt or other unhealthy ingredients occurs in order to make up for removed flavour, texture and taste.

Myth 3: Eating too much fat will make you fat

Along with the fat-free craze came the notion that the more fat you eat the more fat you will have on your body. While it is true that per gram fat yields higher calorie than protein or carbohydrate (9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram), the type of macronutrient isn’t the root of the problem. Rather, overall total calorie intake and exceeding your daily calorie needs is likely to result in increased weight gain.

Myth 4: Eating fat will increase your risk of heart disease

While it is true that excessive intake of trans fats may increase your risk of heart disease, plant-based sources of unsaturated fat can help support heart health. Monounsaturated fats may positively influence cholesterol in the body  thus supporting heart health. These fats may help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the body thus supporting heart health.  Good sources of monounsaturated fats include: avocado, olives, olive oil, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.

Myth 5 : So you’ve actually bought into the ‘fat-is-good’ craze but now you’re pushing the other end of the spectrum. How much fat is too much?

Today there are just as many articles out there promoting a high-fat diet as there are shunning it. And, thanks to many people seeing weight changes by restricting carbohydrates and increasing fats, it has become a popular way of eating. However, you can overdo it. As mentioned above, there are some fats you should be avoiding all together, others you should limit and some that you need to make sure you’re including!

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines help us navigate this by recommending the following:

  1. Consume less than 10% of your calories per day from saturated fat
  2. Total fat intake for adults age 19 and older should make up 20% to 35% of your diet. This means if you eat 2 000 calories per day around 500 of those calories should come from fat. Aim to hit this goal from the unsaturated good fats, like :
  • Avocados (monounsaturated fat)
  • Olives (monounsaturated fat)
  • Nuts (walnuts are rich in Omega-3s ALA)
  • Seeds (chia, flax and hemp seeds are rich in Omega-3s ALA; pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are rich in monounsaturated fats)
  • Cold-pressed oils (Such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, hemp seed oil)
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Hemp Seed Oil does a power of good

by Thea Jourdan 

IsobelIsobel Darvill was only eight months old when she developed the skin condition eczema. Soon, her body was covered in weeping red sores. “It was terrible. I tried everything,” says her mother, Sarah Darvill, 32, cuddling her daughter, now aged three. “Isobel would wake up in the morning with bleeding, inflamed skin where she had scratched. We had some terrible nights with her.” Even steroid creams couldn’t help.

In despair, Sarah finally turned to an alternative treatment recommended by a friend – regular doses of Hemp Seed Oil. Within weeks, the itchy sores had vanished. “I noticed the change almost straight away. Her skin became peachy,” says Sarah, who lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, Mark, and their three children. Two years later, Isobel is fine, although she still needs to take a spoonful of the oil every day. “If she misses a day, the eczema flares up again,” says Sarah.

Joanna Peters has suffered from severe PMT since her early twenties. Unwilling to take hormone pills, she started on a regime of Hemp Seed oil last year. “It took about three weeks to make a difference, but it really has worked for me,” says Joanna, 41, who works in advertising in London. “I feel much more relaxed in the week before my period, and I even like the oil’s nutty taste.”

There are plenty of anecdotes like these that attest to the therapeutic power of Hemp. Packed with digestible protein, vitamins and essential fatty acids, Hemp has been described as one of nature’s most perfectly balanced foods. Grown throughout the world for thousands of years, it has enjoyed a considerable revival since the 1990s when it was reintroduced as a commercial crop in Europe. Hemp cultivation in Britain doubled between 1990-1997.

Although many people swear by Hemp, hard facts about its health-giving properties have been hard to come by until now. A team of scientists in Finland has conducted the first clinical trials, which show that Hemp oil can have dramatic effects.

The study, conducted at the Departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Kuopio, involved a group of 14 healthy volunteers taking a daily dose of Hemp Seed oil for four weeks. All kept detailed food diaries and were told to decrease their intake of saturated fats throughout the study so as to get clear results about levels of fats in the blood. After an appropriate break, they were asked to follow the same regime with linseed oil.

What researchers found was that Hemp Seed oil, as well as containing substantial levels of important essential fatty acids, considerably boosted the level of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the blood. GLA has a potent anti-inflammatory effect, which may help to explain why it eases the pain of eczema.

Dr Jace Callaway, who headed the Finnish project, believes that there is likely to be a link. “Increased serum levels of GLA might help explain some of the numerous anecdotal reports of seemingly miraculous cures from people taking Hemp Seed oil, particularly those suffering from chronic health problems such as allergies, dry skin, slow wound healing and even rheumatoid arthritis.” Linseed oil did not have the same effect, actually reducing levels of GLA in the body.

Hemp Seed oil contains the same potent essential fatty acids found in evening primrose oil, which is also used to relieve the symptoms of PMT.

Hemp does not have to be consumed just as cold oil. Like soybeans, Hemp Seeds can be made into many different food products. Crushed seeds can be used as flour to make bread, cakes, pasta, and biscuits. In addition, the soaked seeds can be made into “milk”, ice cream and non-dairy cheeses.

Confusion often arises about the difference between Hemp and illegal cannabis. Hemp is a variety of the plant species Cannabis Sativa, but it has negligible psychoactive properties. You would have to drink about a litre of Hemp Seed oil to feel any effect.

Nutritionist Lorraine Perreta recommends Hemp Seed oil to anyone who wants to make sure they have a balanced diet – and a glowing complexion. “It literally lubricates from the outside in,” she says. “Imagine having a moisturiser that works from beneath the skin.” It is also possible to grind up the seeds and use the mash as a skin exfoliant.

Hemp Seed is also easy to digest, making it ideal for people suffering from gut and bowel problems. A recent report, funded by the Canadian government, says that 66 per cent of Hemp protein is high quality, the highest percentage of any plant source. Hemp also contains three times as much vitamin E as flax.

While Hemp Seed is a powerful healer, it is fragile. The essential fatty acids it contains are easily damaged if exposed to light, air or heat. So nutritionists recommend that Hemp Seed should never be cooked at high temperatures and is best eaten raw.

Therapeutic Hemp Seed Oil

by Andrew Weil, M.D.

hemp-seed-oilGThe nutritional composition of oil from the Hemp plant could be beneficial to your health. To most people, Cannabis sativa is synonymous with marijuana, but the plant’s Latin name means the “useful Hemp” and although part of the same genus, is not marijuana. Species designated sativa (useful) are usually among the most important of all crops. In fact, the utility of Hemp is many-fold: the plant has provided human beings with fiber, edible seeds, an edible oil, and medicine, not just a notorious mind-altering drug.

In our part of the world, these other uses of Hemp are no longer familiar. We rarely use Hemp fiber and know little about Hemp medicine. Hemp seed is sometimes an ingredient in bird food; otherwise, edible products from Cannabis sativa are virtually unknown.

This may all change. In many parts of the country, promoters of Hemp cultivation are working to educate people about the immense potential of this plant and to reintroduce it into commerce. They champion Hemp as a renewable source of pulp for the manufacture of paper, as a superior fiber for making cloth, and as a new food that can be processed into everything from a milk substitute to a kind of tofu.

Hemp seeds contain 25% high quality protein and 40% fat in the form of an excellent quality oil. Hemp Seed oil is just now coming on the market.

Hemp Seed oil contains 57% Linoleic (LA) and 19% Linolenic (LNA) acids, in the three-to-one ratio that matches our nutritional needs. These are the essential fatty acids (EFAs) – so called because the body cannot make them and must get them from external sources. The best sources are oils from freshly ground grains and whole seeds, but EFAs are fragile and quickly lost in processing. EFAs are the building blocks of longer chain fats, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that occur naturally in the fat of cold-water fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, bluefish, herring and, to a lesser extent, tuna.

Adding these foods to the diet seems to lower risks of heart attacks because Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the clotting tendency of the blood and improve cholesterol profiles. They also have a natural anti-inflammatory effect that makes them useful for people with arthritis and autoimmune disorders.

Health food stores stock many brands of EPA/DHA supplements in the form of fish oil capsules. I usually do not recommend them because I think it’s better to get your essential fatty acids in foods, and I worry about toxic contaminants in fish oil supplements. But what can you do if you choose, for one reason or another, not to eat fish? You can get some Omega-3s in expeller pressed canola oil, the only common vegetable oil that contains them.

A much richer source is Flax oil. Flax oil is pressed from the seeds of Linum utilitatissimum, the source of linen fiber and an oil better known in this country as linseed oil, the base for oil paints.

Flax  oil is usually classified as a “drying oil” rather than a food oil because its chemical characteristics cause it to combine readily with oxygen and become thick and hard. This tendency to harden on exposure to air quickly turns linseed oil rancid and unfit to eat, but makes it useful as a vehicle for pigment on canvas. (The word “canvas” by the way is a relative of “Cannabis,” because true canvas is made from Hemp fiber).

For dietary purposes Flax oil must be pressed at low temperatures, protected from light, heat, and air, stored at cool temperatures, and used quickly once the containers are opened. Most Flax oil is not delicious. There is great variation in taste among the brands currently sold in natural food stores, but the best of them still leaves much to be desired.

Flax oil is generally recommended as a dietary supplement to patients with autoimmune disorders, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, but about half of them cannot tolerate it. Some say it makes them gag, even when concealed in salad dressing or mashed into a baked potato. These people have to resort to taking Flax oil capsules, which are large and expensive.

Udo Erasmus (author of the classic book, Fats and Oils (Alive, 1986), [and Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, The Complete Guide to fats, oils, cholesterol and human health, Second Printing of Fats and Oils, (Alive, 1996). This book is a fabulous resource on nutrition.) says that the problem is freshness. Unless you get Flax oil right from the processor and freeze it until you start using it, it will already have deteriorated by the time you buy it. Hemp Seed oil contains more EFAs than Flax and actually tastes good. It is nutty and free from the objectionable undertones of Flax oil. I use it on salads, baked potatoes and other foods and would not consider putting it in capsules.

Like Flax oil, Hemp Seed oil should be stored in the refrigerator, used quickly and never heated. Unlike Flax oil, Hemp Seed oil also provides 1.7% Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA). There is controversy about the value of adding this fatty acid to the diet, but many people take supplements of it in the form of capsules of evening primrose oil, black currant oil, and borage oil. My experience is that it simulates growth of hair and nails, improves the health of the skin and can reduce inflammation. I like the idea of having one good oil that supplies both Omega-3s and GLA, without the need to take more capsules.

One of the questions that people are sure to ask about Hemp Seed oil is whether it has any psychoactivity. The answer is no. The intoxicating properties of Cannabis sativa reside in a sticky resin produced most abundantly in the flowering tops of female plants before the seeds mature. The main psychoactive compound in this resin is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Strains of Hemp grown for oil production have a low resin content to begin with and by the time the seeds are ready for harvest, resin production has dropped even further. Finally, the seeds must be cleaned and washed before they are pressed. As a result, no THC is found in the final product.

Obviously, there is a political dimension to the appearance of this product. For many years, Cannabis sativa has been stigmatized as a satanic plant and its cultivation has been prohibited. As an ethnobotanist interested in the relationships between plants and human beings, I have always felt that making plants illegal was stupid, especially when the objects of these actions are supremely useful plants like Hemp. The plant is not responsible for human misuse of it.

If you have a chance to try Hemp Seed oil, a long forgotten, newly rediscovered food, I think you will see why I am enthusiastic about it.

Andrew Weil teaches at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, has a private medical practice, and is the author of Natural Health, Natural Medicine.

Hemp Seed Oil For Skin Hydration – Improving Elasticity – Perfect Anti-Aging Prevention!

Hemp Seed Oil is anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, balances dry skin, fights skin inflammations, helps heal skin lesions, has anti-oxidants and contains moisture balancing properties.

The hemp seed oil is non-greasy, readily absorbs into the skin, is an emollient and has rejuvenating and moisturizing properties.

Adult users of Hemp Seed Oil have reported softer skin and stronger nails and hair after only a few weeks of using 1-2 Tablespoons per day as a supplement to their regular diet.

When included as a typical application, the vitamins and minerals present in Hemp Seed Oil are easily absorbed through the skin, resulting in a more vitamin and mineral enriched body care product.

Hemp Seed Oil may be added to any body care or cosmetic product, including creams, lotions, facial or body oils, massage oils, shampoo, conditioner, shaving products, lip balm, soap and any other product. In hair care products, Hemp Seed Oil increases elasticity, manageability and shine.