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What fat is good fat?

If you’re like me when it comes to fat and our diet, you probably hear conflicting information on a daily basis about whether it is good for us and which ones we should consume or if we should consume any at all. The truth is that we need dietary fat and it is true that some fats are good for us while the majority of fats available are not.

I have written previously about all the functions in our body that require fat, from breathing to our immune system to being able to build bones. In this column, let’s discuss which fats to choose because your choices matter. Different types of fats turn various genes on and off and also influence how cells communicate with each other.

In general, you should avoid fats and oils high in omega-6 fatty acids because they are considered pro-inflammatory, which means they cause inflammation in the body; inflammation is bad because it is the underlying cause of most diseases. These are oils like corn, safflower, sunflower, vegetable, soy and canola. Omega -6’s contained in many refined oils like these actually turn on genes involved in inflammation and cancer so you can see why you want to limit these in your diet. When you consume too many of the omega-6’s and not enough omega- 3’s it also speeds up the aging process in your body. So, making a strong attempt to remove these fats and oils from your diet while focusing on consuming oils with omega- 3 fatty acids is important.

The oils you do want to consume are ones like olive oil, avocado oil and fish oil. These turn off the genes that control inflammation and cancer promotion. Fish oil and grass-fed livestock contain good amounts of omega-3’s, while olive and avocado oil contain omega-9 fatty acid, which enhances the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil may also have an added benefit when it comes to weight loss. In a study focusing on weight loss in mice, findings showed evidence that fish oil can activate brown adipose tissue to burn fat and help with weight loss.

The great news is that you can make good changes to your health fairly quickly. Focus on adding good sources of protein such as wild-caught salmon and grass-fed beef, make your own salad dressing and sauces using extra virgin olive or avocado oil, and avoid fast food and deep-fried foods. In doing so, you can change the ratio of fatty acids to benefit your body and your waistline!

Ashley Lucas has a doctorate in sports nutrition and chronic disease. She is also a registered dietitian nutritionist. She is the founder and owner of PHD Weight Loss and Nutrition, offering weight management and wellness services in the Four Corners. She can be reached at 764-4133.