Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bloomfield's Badass Foods: Saturated Fats

Are you as healthy and safe as possible living the vegetarian life? Part 1

Hey ho all! It's nice to be back after a short hiatus of working my wee cotton socks off. Actually, they are only 5% cotton, because us tough manly types don't require mollycoddling. Well, only 5% mollycoddling.

This article is on a subject very close to my heart (if you'll pardon the pun), and I'm going to break it down into 2 parts so it doesn't take you a year to read it all. I know that you're all busy little bees! This first part will focus largely on saturated fats, as it is a hugely misunderstood grey area and also because I am desperately in need of a rant.

As I've mentioned before, I am a carnivore and statistically that makes me more likely to suffer from colon cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and a whole other assorted bag of hideous ailments that require long periods spent in a room with a man with a detatched, brisk manner and very chilly hands (oh joy!). At this point, you might be leaning back in the smug beanbag of vegetarianism (or the hard unforgiving pouffe of veganism) and thinking to yourself that this argument is done and dusted and that you are nice and safe, munching away on your rhubarb and quinoa mash. I hope so, but as I am going to discuss here, there are a number of things that even vegans need to be aware of to make sure that they are reaping the optimum benefits of the meat-free lifestyle. So off we trot on the first part of our journey of discovery!

One of the most noticable things about the vegetarian diet is that the consumption of saturated fats tends to be lower. Many think this is a good thing; not quite. Fats are crucial for our bodies to remain healthy, especially saturated fats. They get a very bad press and really don't deserve it - and they'll be getting their own blog post from me soon to be saved from this misrepresentation! One misconstrued study by Nathan Pritikin decades ago and a whole lot of marketing money by vegetable oil companies have led us to accuse poor old saturated fat of being the enemy. As self appointed counsel for the defence, I will now point out some of the benefits that our poor defendant actually brings to our bodies:

1) Saturate fats are chemically very stable, having all of their carbon bonds occupied!

2) If that doesn't impress you, remember that 50% of the membrane of EVERY CELL WALL in your   body is made up of saturated fats. A stable saturated fat makes a top quality defensive wall against invaders and improves the physical composition of your body!*

3) Saturated fats are absolutely essential for effective absorption of vitamins and minerals. Without these fats, attempted absorption can be a tortuous and unrewarding process for the body! Calcium and Vitamins A, D, E and K all need these fats to be properly assimilated into the body. Leafy greens might be a fantastic substitute for milk in terms of raw vitamin and mineral content but if you aren't getting a decent amount of saturated fats to help digest this, it could be an issue.

4) Saturated fats help the liver absorb medicines and prevent excessive toxicity after drinking a glass of wine or two (or twelve). A healthy liver is like an obese mouse: a little fatty.

5) Saturated fats can help with allergy reduction and prevention. Polyunsaturated fats (the common substitute for saturated fats, found in margarine rather than butter, for example) can prmote the formation of prostaglandin E2, something that causes inflammation. it also releases a nasty protein from the immune system that stimulates and allergic reaction!

6) Saturated fats help with the absorption of Omega 3, a polyunsaturated fat that helps improve your health in many areas. It also increases the retention of Omega 3 in the body greatly, unlike other mono or poly unsaturated fats.

7) Amongst other things, saturated fats help with energy levels, hair quality, nerve ending protection and nerve signal effectiveness. They also act as a buffer against disease, help your hormonal system keep in shape, make up most of your brain tissue, coat the inside of your lungs, keep you from developing breathing problems and help you to lose weight and maintain a stable metabolism.

Now, there are a million more reasons to rethink your opinion of saturated fats - too many to list without boring you silly and making you resent them. The point I am trying to make is that these are essential things, crucial for everyday operation in our normal lives. Saturated fats aren't the devil; neither are they a superfood. They shouldn't be removed or increased in an exaggerated fashion in our diets. They are much too important for that. Make sure you get enough good quality saturated fat in your diet and the difference will be incredible. The fact that I have given a whole part of this two-part article over to them shows the value that I place on them. It's a shame that they have fallen so far from grace. Please, help restore them to their rightful place and yourselves to your rightful fitness!

"But David!" I hear you cry. "Where do I get these saturated fats from in my diet? I have no desire for butter as a vegan and I don't eat meat!" Have no fear, dear reader, for I have some suggestions below. Take a peek and see if you can squeeze some of these into your diet. If you don't like them, there are more out there still, and just a little research or a question thrown my way will uncover them.

Non-animal based sources of saturated fats:

Palm oil
Palm kernel oil
Coconut oil and milk
Certain fish, such as herring and sardines (if you're pescetarian)
Eggs (if you're lacto-ovo vegetarian)

As ever, if you have any questions about this article please feel free to ask me in the comments section or on the Everyday Veggie Facebook Page and I'll be pleased to help!

Peace and good luck til part two, Everyday Veggies!


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