In the book, Engine2 Engine, written by Rip Esselstyn his assertion that we should avoid all fats, good or bad, because they have so many calories can get a little confusing.
Everything I have read about having a higher metabolism, balanced diet, good skin and antioxidants is that we need that good fat.
Oils and Fats
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn says “Along with cutting out animal-based foods, this diet recommends eliminating all oils, including olive oil and canola oil. You also need to avoid nuts and avocados since these plant sources contain high amounts of fat.” Dr. Esselstyn explains that these oils and fat sources may contribute to high cholesterol levels, which in turn, may increase your cholesterol levels. You do require some amount of fat in your diet, and the diet recommends having 1 tablespoon of flax seed each day. This provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, offering the amount of fat your body needs to function properly.
Dr. Esselstyn is the father of Rip Esselstyn (Forks over Knives and Engine 2 Engine) he is a cardiologist who has had great success with patients eating his plant-based diet. Rip is a firefighter who has adopted and is doing a real good job of promoting his dad’s diet plan. He says: no avocados, nuts, olive oils – all the things that we have been told promote health. It seems like it is the cardiologists who have the most rigid and controversial diets. Atkins, Esselstyn and Agatson are three of those doctors and they all have different approaches.
Dr. Mark Hyman says…
“We should obtain the bulk of our antioxidants from food – namely whole, real, unprocessed plant foods. And we should take antioxidants as a team, not individually.
Whew! That’s a lot of biochemistry and physiology, and I really would go into so much detail if it weren’t so important.”
So here’s what to do to protect your mitochondria and prevent rusting.
- Eat less processed, junk food, sugar and empty calories. In fact you should really avoid them altogether.
- Detoxify – get rid of environmental and internal toxins
- Address inflammation
- Balance your hormones
Here are things to boost and protect your mitochondria:
- Exercise – high intensity interval training increases the efficiency and function of the mitochondria, and strength training increases the amount of muscle and number of mitochondria
- Eat whole real, colorful plant food, 8-12 servings of fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds every day which are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients
- Take mitochondria protective and energy boosting nutrients such as acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, n-acetyl-cysteine, NADH, D-ribose, resveratrol, magnesium aspartate
- Increase omega 3 fats to help build your mitochondrial membranes
How important are fats, what forms should you be consuming and in what quantities? It wasn’t long ago when then medical community was advocating the avoidance of all fat, even in the form of nuts or an avocado. Long gone are the days of neglect and dismissal when it comes to fat. We have made great progress drawing more clear lines between raw plant based sources that are good for you, even anti-aging, and those that are harmful such as cooked, animal-based, and processed saturated and trans fats.
A deficiency of healthy fat runs prevalent throughout the modern day standard American diet with the majority of people consuming too many of the detrimental bad fats including saturated fats in meat and dairy, and processed polyunsaturated fats or hydrogenated trans-fat from cooking oil and margarine used in processed foods. Consuming too many of these and not enough of the good fats contribute to stroke, heart attack, chronic inflammation, cognitive impairment, allergy, auto immune diseases and ultimately premature death.
Many of the oils we think are doing well for our bodies are in fact causing further damage. The processing of oil can be the difference between good and bad. Some extraction methods for cheaper oils involve high heat, which can actually cause the oil to convert to trans fat. Other extraction methods use chemical solvents to separate the oil, usually done with low-grade oils.
The health benefits of consuming a sufficient amount of fat in the right forms and proper proportions has been shown to be immensely important in an endless number of areas impacting the state of body and mind. Among other things, it can strengthen the immune system, enhance brain and nervous system function such as mood, intelligence and behavior, greatly reduce cardiovascular disease, increase energy and performance, grow healthy skin, hair, and nails, regulate body weight, and improve organ and gland function.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) — “essential” meaning that the body cannot produce them — they must be ingested, by eating foods rich in EFA. EFAs are a type of fat known as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and an important dietary component of overall health. Lending support to the healthy function of the cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems, they also play an integral role in promoting cell health. Repair and regeneration of the cellular membrane is vital for keeping the body biologically young and enabling it to retain mobility and vitality throughout life. Contributing to our cells’ ability to receive nutrition and eliminate waste, EFAs help keep the cellular regeneration process moving. Our body’s ability to fight off infection and reduce inflammation is in part dependent on having an adequate supply of EFAs in the diet. In fact, healthy and efficient brain development in children has been linked to a diet rich in EFAs.
In addition, a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs are vital for skin health. Dry skin is commonly treated topically with a moisturizer, leaving the cause of the problem unaddressed. A diet with adequate EFAs will keep skin looking and feeling supple.
The standard American diet contains an excess of omega-6 by10 to 25 times with almost no omega-3. This imbalance among other things has been shown to contribute to stroke, heart attack, chronic inflammation, cognitive impairment, allergy and autoimmune diseases. Excellent sources of omega-3 to help restore the natural balance are flaxseed and hemp oil as well as walnuts.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a difficult to attain omega-6 EFA with potent anti-inflammatory properties via production of hormone-like substances called eicosanoids. These help soothe skin, promote healing and regulate water loss. GLA’s anti-inflammatory properties expand blood vessels enabling better blood flow. It is known as an immune booster, cancer fighter, cholesterol reducer, arthritis reliever and supple, beautiful skin. Evening primrose, borage and hemp seed oils are the best sources of GLA.
Another healthy yet underrated fat are Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, found in large amounts in coconut oil. They are unique in that they are a form of saturated fat, yet have many health benefits. Their digestion is near effortless and, unlike other fat, MCTs are utilized in the liver and are easier on the pancreas, liver, and digestive system. Within moments of MCTs being consumed, they are converted by the liver to energy which make it an excellent source of energy during an intense workout or race. It has been shown to promote heart health, a strong immune system, a healthy metabolism, weight loss and youthful skin.
Healthy fats like raw unprocessed plant based oils also carry hundreds of phytonutrients such as chlorophyll, phytosterols, Carotenoids, Lignans (Phytoestrogens), tocopherols, tocotrienols, Flavonoids (Polyphenols) among others. Flax oil, for instance, when extracted properly can retain high levels of cancer fighting lignans, while hemp oil is rich in many phytonutients, in particular receiving a lot of attention for its high levels of immune boosting, alkalinizing and cleansing chlorophyll.
Plant based oils can also be a great source of antioxidants. Chlorophyll found in hemp oil has antioxidant like properties while berry seed oils are packed with antioxidants in a highly concentrated form. Raspberry, cranberry and pomegranate seed oils are among the best. They can be hard to find in stores and are expensive, but they will deliver an extra dimension to a high-quality oil blend. A mixture containing all these oils is the ultimate essential fatty acid and antioxidant combination.
What to Look For:
A good fat should generally come from an organically grown plant based source with minimal processing to preserve their “raw”, nutrient rich state. Look for oils that are cold-pressed and have not undergone a distillation or purification process. Also try to avoid those that are exposed to heat and light as they can result in oxidation.
Hemp oil is a great base for salad dressings, sauces, shakes and many other recipes that do not require cooking at high heat. This is because hemp offers exceptional flavor and nutrition. Using only hemp oil as your primary oil source is a good way to go; however, a blend of about 80 percent hemp oil, 10 percent flaxseed oil, and 10 percent pumpkin seed oil is an optimal balance of essential fatty acids. Good sources of fat include hemp seed oil, flax seed oil, antioxidant oil blend (green tea seed oil, pomegranate seed oil, black cumin seed oil, black raspberry seed oil, blueberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil), pumpkin seed oil and coconut oil. Fats play a pivotal role in one’s health and longevity.