For those who think a low-fat diet is the best way to lose weight ... think again. That's because the "old" fat stored in the body's peripheral tissues -- belly, backside and thighs -- can't be burned efficiently unless "new" fat is eaten or generated in the liver, according to researchers.
A team developed mice that were genetically engineered to be absent of an important fat-synthesizing enzyme in the liver. Consequently, the mice were unable to produce new fatty acids in the liver, which presented a problem for the mice, as liver fatty acids are vital for maintaining normal metabolism for:
Moreover, when the mice were placed on a no-fat diet, they developed fatty liver disease (their livers filled quickly with fat) and suffered from low sugar levels; and because their livers were unable to burn the old fat, extra pounds were accumulated.
The Liver Needs "New" Fat
Based on their findings, researchers found that in order to regulate fat burning the liver must receive "new" fat -- the fat that is consumed in food or freshly made in the liver as glucose is converted to fat by fatty acid synthase. Researchers also saw the effect of added dietary fat could be duplicated when the mice were treated with a drug that activated the PPAR-alpha found in all mammals and central to metabolic processes that extract energy from dietary components like carbohydrates and fats.
Thus, those who strive to lose fat stored in the peripheral tissues may find promise in consuming small amounts of dietary fats that could effectively activate PPAR-alpha and fat burning pathways through the liver.
Cell Metabolism May 2005;1(5):Pages 309-322
Science Blog May 9, 2005
While the above study provides strong evidence as to the overall importance of consuming fat as a regular part of your diet, please be sure to remember two vitally important points:
Not all fat is created equal. In other words, certain types and forms of fat are extremely nutritious and necessary to maintain optimal health, while others should be avoided at all costs.
While the results of this study suggest that assuring an adequate, overall intake of fat is obviously important, obtaining the proper balance of different types of fats may be even more so.
Types of Fat
The types of fat I recommend you avoid completely fall into two categories: Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or trans fats
Liquid vegetable oils
Hydrogenated fats are typically found in margarine and shortening, as well as processed and/or fried foods like french fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers.
They are formed by chemically altering the structure of vegetable oil so that it becomes hardened; these fats are one of the worst "foods" you can possibly consume, as they are converted into trans fat. Research has proven them to play an important role in the development of:
Liquid vegetable oils include any oils that require mechanical pressing and processing to be created (coconut and olive oils are traditional oils that can be created without the use of machines). These oils are very unstable and typically rancid before they are even opened, and the heat used in cooking with these oils further damages them.
Consuming vegetable oils also leads to an imbalanced intake of fatty acids (discussed below), as the omega-6 fats, which are typically high in these oils, were never meant to be consumed in such high amounts.
To understand this concept, consider for a moment how much oil you might find in a typical ear of corn, or cup of soybeans. Certainly nowhere near the amounts used when cooking with liquid oils derived from these foods. Also consider how difficult it would have been for humans, living before the modern age, to squeeze even a drop of oil from such foods without the aid of a machine.
A Balanced Intake
During Paleolithic times, when our ancestors ate a diet that was most natural for their bodies, the ratio of omega-6:3 fats was anywhere from 3:1 to 1:1.
Currently, Americans consume omega-6 and omega-3 fats at a ratio anywhere from 20:1 to as high as 50:1. Needless to say, this is a tremendous difference.
At the end of the 19th century, Americans consumed less than one pound of liquid vegetable oil a year. At the turn of the 20th century, that amount had increased to 75 pounds per year. Nearly all vegetable oils are loaded with omega-6 fats. We were simply never designed to eat so many processed vegetable oil fats. When one combines this with a decline in the intake of clean fish and fish oils, we have a prescription for disaster.
The Best Fats to Eat
Following three simple rules when selecting the fats to consume in your diet will help assure that you are getting the proper types of fats, in the proper ratios.
Choose only fats that would have been available to you in pre-industrial times, when oil-pressing machines, chemicals and other technology used in creating modern fats were unavailable. The fats that fall into this category include fish oil (mechanical processing is used to create fish oil, but the amounts of it you would consume still mirror the intake of pre-modern humans) coconut oil, olive oil, butter, and any fat that is naturally present in the food you are eating.
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Christopher Wiechert's Healthblogger is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. To be removed from this e-mail program, reply back and say unsubscribe.