Essential Fats: Why Fat-Free Diets Don’t Work

Did you know that by cutting fat out of your diet you also cut out essential fatty acids (EFAs), the very fat required for the proper functioning of all cells in the body? Health conditions that can develop from EFA deficiencies range from minor conditions such as dry hair, skin, and eyes to more serious disorders such as metabolic (ability to burn calories), vision, learning, neurological (nervous system) and immune-system problems.

With little fat in the diet the body can’t properly absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids. These nutrients are especially important for the health of the eyes, the skin, the nervous and immune systems, the bones, and the teeth. Even if symptoms of outright deficiency of these nutrients don’t develop, you might not absorb enough of the nutrients required to promote optimal health.

Going fat-free usually leaves you feeling deprived. Fats carry compounds that give foods much of their flavor and aroma, so when there’s not enough fat in your diet, your enjoyment of food can dwindle. This can lead you to crave fat and binge on high-calorie foods that contain unhealthy, often saturated, and/or high cholesterol fats. Some popular diets even promote foods high in these unhealthy fats.

Loading up on fat-free and reduced-fat products such as nonfat dairy products, cookies, salad dressing, and cream cheese, can contribute to weight gain. These foods are void of the essential fatty acids required to sustain proper metabolic function and low in fiber, necessary to satisfy your appetite and stabilize your blood sugar. Often fat is replaced with sugar or corn syrup to suggest a low fat product, that now offers too much sugar to be of value in your healthy diet. Consequently, you never feel full and easily overeat or gain weight.

Eating less fat in an effort to lose weight usually backfires. If you eat too little fat, the body will compensate and manufacture more. Unfortunately, though, the body can’t make the essential fats you need for proper cell functioning.

The solution?
Be sure to include sufficient amounts of the good fats (a balanced intake of essential fatty acids and monounsaturated oils) from cold-pressed (expeller) canola, sesame, and olive oil, some nuts and seeds such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower, pumpkin, pecans, and sesame seeds or the nut/seed butters made from these. Also select flax seeds/oil or cold-water fish (such as tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, halibut) as they offer the body the more difficult essential omega 3 fats to obtain in sufficient amounts. And unless you are vegetarian, omega 3 oil from fish is a preferred form of the oil because it is in a body-ready form unlike flax oil, which requires several biochemical steps before the body can use it.

Avoid the unhealthy fats (trans fats and saturated fats) found in red meat, sausage and salami, cheese, poultry skin, butter, dairy fats, and most grocery store vegetable oils (unless specified organic, cold expeller-pressed), margarine, shortening, nondairy creamers, whipped toppings, and most processed foods that are made with these unhealthful fats.

Consider supplementing your daily diet with a high-quality, high potency stable essential fatty acid product guaranteed free of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals (including mercury, lead, and cadmium) and environmental toxins.