Wellness Medicine

By: Dr Darryl Chew

From WellnessMedicine.info

THE SCIENCE OF OBESITY: FATS & CHOLESTEROL

For years we heard that a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet wouldkeep us healthy and help us lose weight. And many of us jumpedon the bandwagon, eliminating fat and high-cholesterol foodsfrom our diets. Well, unfortunately, we were doing it all wrong.

Instead of eliminating fat completely, we should have beeneliminating the "bad fats," the fats associated with obesity andheart disease and eating the "good fats," the fats that actuallyhelp improve blood cholesterol levels. Before we examine thegood fats and bad fats, let's talk about cholesterol.

Cholesterol - It's been ingrained into our brains thatcholesterol causes heart disease and that we should limit ourintake of foods that contain it, but dietary cholesterol isdifferent than blood cholesterol. Cholesterol comes from twoplaces-first, from food such as meat, eggs, and seafood, andsecond, from our body. Our liver makes this waxy substance andlinks it to carrier proteins called lipoproteins. Theselipoproteins dissolve the cholesterol in blood and carry it toall parts of your body. Our body needs cholesterol to help formcell membranes, some hormones, and Vitamin D.

You may have heard of "good" and "bad" cholesterol. Well,high-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol from the bloodto the liver. The liver processes the cholesterol forelimination from the body. If there's HDL in the blood, thenless cholesterol will be deposited in the coronary arteries.That's why it's called "good" cholesterol. Low-densitylipoproteins (LDL), carry cholesterol from the liver to the restof the body. When there is too much in the body, it is depositedin the coronary arteries. This is not good. A build-up ofcholesterol in our arteries could prevent blood from getting toparts of our heart. That means that our heart won't get theoxygen and nutrients it needs, which could result in heartattack, stroke, or sudden death. So, if your LDL is higher thanyour HDL, you're at a greater risk for developing heart disease.It may come as a surprise, but recent studies have shown thatthe amount of cholesterol in our food is not strongly linked toour blood cholesterol levels. It's the types of fats you eatthat affect your blood cholesterol levels.

Bad Fats - There are two fats that you should limit your intakeof-saturated and trans fats.

Saturated Fats - Saturated fats are mostly animal fats. Youfind them in meat, whole-milk products, poultry skin, and eggyolks. Coconut oil also has a high amount of saturated fat.Saturated fats raise both the good and bad blood cholesterol.

Trans Fats - Trans fats are produced throughhydrogenation-heating oils in the presence of oxygen. Manyproducts contain trans fats because the fats help them maintaina longer shelf life. Margarine also contains a high amount oftrans fats. Trans fats are especially dangerous because theylower the good cholesterol, HDL and raise the bad cholesterol,LDL. Unfortunately, most products do not tell you how much transfat it contains, but you can find out if it's in a product bylooking at the ingredient list. If the ingredients containhydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, then it containstrans fats. Fortunately in 2006, manufacturers will be requiredto list the amount of trans fat in their products on thenutrition labels, so it will be easier for you to find.

Good Fats - Some fats actually improve cholesterol levels.

Polyunsaturated Fats - Polyunsaturated fats are found insunflower, corn, and soybean oils. These oils contain Omega-6,an essential fatty acid. However, most people get enough Omega-6in their diet and instead need more Omega-3. Omega-3 is a fattyacid found in fish and walnuts.

Monounsaturated Fats - Monounsaturated fats are found incanola, peanut, and olive oils. Both types of unsaturated fatsdecrease the bad cholesterol, LDL and increase the goodcholesterol, HDL.

Now, just because the unsaturated fats improve your bloodcholesterol levels, you don't have the go-ahead to eat all ofthe olive oil, butter and nuts you want. Fat of any kind doescontain calories, and if you're trying to lose weight, eat fatin moderation, and stay away from saturated fats.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR WEIGHT

A pound of fat represents approximately 3500 calories of storedenergy. In order to lose a pound of fat, you have to use 3500more calories than you consume. Although this seems like asimple formula remember that your body is a thinking organismdesigned to protect itself. If you were to try to reduce yourintake by the entire 3500 calories in one day, your body wouldregister some type of alarm and think that there is a state ofemergency. Immediately your metabolism would slow down and noweight loss would be achieved. It's better to spread your weightloss out over a period of a week, so that you aim to reduce yourcaloric intake by 3500 to 7000 calories per week, resulting inweight loss of one to two pounds per week. It's generally notrecommended to try to lose more than two pounds in a week.Attempting to do so may cause health risks, and on top of thisyou're unlikely to be successful.

In the example of attempting to lose two pounds per week, youcan use a basic method of calorie counting to help youaccomplish your goal. To do so, you need to figure out how manycalories a person of your age, sex, and weight usually needs ina day, subtract 500 from that amount, and follow a diet thatprovides you with that many calories. For example, if you wouldordinarily need 3000 calories in a day, you would follow a2500-calorie a day diet. Next, figure out how much exercise aperson of your weight would need to do to burn 500 calories perday, and engage in an exercise plan that will help you achieveyour goal. The result is simple: 500 fewer calories consumed and500 more calories expended equals a 1000 calorie per daydeficit, which, over the course of a week adds up to 7000calories, or two pounds. Although individual results may vary,the bottom line is if your body is consuming fewer calories thanit's expending, then weight will be lost.

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