Juvenon Health Journal volume 1 number 6 december 2002
Is Fat Really Evil?
Fat! No one in America wants to be called “fat.” We recoil from the word. Ads scream at us to buy products that are non-fat, low-fat, reduced fat. More sophisticated ads differentiate among types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats.
Despite the hype and the overwhelmingly negative image of fats, guess what: they’re not all bad! In fact, some of the talk about one particular type of fat – omega-3 fatty acids – is rather positive. While fat gets bad press, experts generally agree that about 30% of caloric intake should come from fats (and the rest from protein and carbohydrates). Clearly, fats are widely misunderstood. Here’s the story. First, some definitions:
Saturated fat is solid at room temperature. The white substance found on the perimeter of a steak is saturated fat. It consists of fatty acid subunits bound together, three to a unit, to a glycerol molecule, to form what is known as triglycerides. Saturation relates to the potential number of hydrogen atoms a fatty acid can accommodate. If fat is 100% saturated, it contains the maximum number of hydrogen atoms. The higher the percentage of saturation, the more rigid the fat. This fat has been demonstrated to increase the plasma level of LDL (the bad cholesterol).
Monounsaturated fat contains one bond in the fatty acid subunit that is deficient in two hydrogen atoms. This fat is liquid at room temperature. It is considered to be generally beneficial to one’s health and is present in such foods as olive oil, canola oil, and avocados. Research indicates this fat may help lower blood pressure and attenuate the inflammatory response, as well as lower the incidence of heart disease. Olive oil, in addition, contains phenolic compounds, which may also be partly responsible for its health benefits.
Polyunsaturated fat also is liquid at room temperature. It has multiple bonds that are deficient in two hydrogen atoms, whereas monounsaturates have only one. Foods with significant quantities of this type of fat include fish, vegetable oils and virtually all types of nuts. Examples of their health benefits are discussed below.
Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat that is virtually all man-made. Chemists in the early 1900’s were summoned by industrialists to create a product from vegetable oil that would substitute for butter and lard, but have superior commercial properties, such as greater heat stability and increased resistance to rancidity. The chemists realized the fat in vegetable oil was a liquid due to the preponderance of polyunsaturated fat. They found that by saturating some of the bonds, and rearranging the two hydrogen atoms on the unsaturated bonds, the oil would solidify at room temperature. Common products of this chemical transformation are oleomargarine and Crisco. The feat was accomplished by pumping hydrogen into the vegetable oil – hence the designation hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. It is used in French fries, margarine and virtually all packaged cookies and crackers. It has recently been demonstrated the trans fats not only raise the bad cholesterol, LDL, but they are even more dangerous in that they lower the good cholesterol, HDL. Butter, in contrast, raises LDL but has no effect on HDL.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are two types of polyunsaturated fats with important biological properties. They are essential fats, in that our cells need them but cannot make them. They must be supplied by the diet. The ultimate source of the omega-3 and -6 fats is plants. The dietary source for these fats is either plants, or animals that eat plants. Recent evidence indicates a 2:1 ratio of these two fats (omega-6:omega-3) in our diet promotes maximum health. How? These fats are transformed into cell-regulatory compounds that control the inflammatory response and regulate the immune system. The omega-6 fats are in general involved in up-regulating inflammation, whereas the omega-3 fats functions to down-regulate or attenuate inflammation.
Early humans probably had little difficulty maintaining this ratio as they subsisted on wild plants, animals and fish – foods that contain the two fats in equal proportions. Over the past 100 years, however, this ratio has been drastically altered as grains, and the commonly used vegetable oils (especially corn oil) made from them, contain a high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids. Even the meat from domestic animals has a preponderance of omega-6 fat as they, too, are fed grains containing high levels of this fat. The typical Western diet today, it is estimated, supplies 20 times as much omega-6 as omega-3.
Scientific evidence indicates that an imbalance of the two fats in our diets can promote age-associated diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Research has demonstrated the capacity of the omega-3 fats to attenuate heart arrhythmia and prevent cardiac arrest, by regulating ionic flow in heart tissue. Additional evidence supports a role for the omega-3 fats in promoting a healthier nervous system and helping people with depression, bipolar disorders and autoimmune diseases.
We’ve already noted that experts recommend that fats supply around 30% of our caloric intake. The question now is, which fats? Our recommendations are illustrated here [see sidebar at left]. Saturated fat should be 10% to 12%. The omega-3 and -6 fats together should represent about 5% of total fat consumed — about 2% omega -3 and 3% omega-6. The remaining amount, approximately 85%, should be divided between polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, with emphasis on the latter. Note that the healthiest diet contains no trans fats at all.
Unlike the other fats, omega-3 is not generally abundant in the American diet. Fish is perhaps the best source. If fish is not your favorite dish, flaxseed is another source, and supplements are available that contain quite pure omega-3 fats derived from fish oil or plants. Supplements can be obtained in a form free from toxic substances, such as mercury and pesticides, known to be present in some fish.
Experts recommend that fats supply around 30% of your daily caloric intake. Of that 30%, the majority should consist of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and avocados.
Trans fats, on the other hand, not only raise the bad cholesterol (LDL), but they are even more dangerous in that they lower the good cholesterol (HDL). The healthiest diet contains no trans fats at all.
Dr. Treadwell answers your questions about Juvenon™ Cellular Health Supplement
QUESTION: Will the Juvenon Formula help me manage my weight?
J.E., South Carolina
ANSWER: Juvenon Energy Formula™ contains two compounds, alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine, both of which are involved in the metabolic conversion of food-derived substances to energy. The latter ingredient is specifically required for the transport of subunits of fat into the mitochondria (locus of energy production) and their subsequent conversion to energy. A deficiency in this compound will deprive the mitochondria of its ability to burn fat for energy. Juvenon has received numerous reports from consumers whose experience is consistent with this biological fact. They indicate that they have been taking the Juvenon Formula for a period of time and have lost a modest but noticeable amount of weight, or that they have an easier time controlling their weight.
Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D., is a former Harvard Medical School associate professor and member of Juvenon’s Scientific Advisory Board.