Fats in general are considered the dietary villains by many people. And while a low-fat diet is actually quite good for the 1/3 of people who are carb nutritional types, the other two-thirds of the population do not fare well on this type of diet.
Another persistent sub-set of the fat myth is the belief that saturated fat, in particular, will increase your risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
This is simply untrue.
Saturated fats provide the building blocks for your cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone like substances that are essential to your health, and saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources (such as meat, dairy, certain oils, and tropical plants like coconut) provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet.
When you eat fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry.
In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.
Saturated fats are also:
- The preferred fuel for your heart, and also used as a source of fuel during energy expenditure
- Useful antiviral agents (caprylic acid)
- Effective as an anticaries, antiplaque and anti fungal agents (lauric acid)
- Useful to actually lower cholesterol levels (palmitic and stearic acids)
- Modulators of genetic regulation and prevent cancer (butyric acid).
Sources of healthy monounsaturated fats include olive oil and nuts, such as pecans. Canola oil is also in this category, but I advise avoiding it and using olive oil instead. Keep in mind, however, that olive oil should not be used for cooking. Instead, use coconut oil for cooking, frying and baking, and save the olive oil for salad dressing.
One of the most important of the healthy fats is omega-3.
Deficiency in this essential fat can cause or contribute to very serious health problems, both mental and physical, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year.
For more information about omega-3's and the best sources of this fat, please review this previous article.
Now, the type of fat that is truly disastrous to your health are trans fat and damaged omega-6 fats.
Trans fat is the artery-clogging, highly damaged omega-6 polyunsaturated fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening. It's also found in most processed and fried foods, such as French fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers.
This is the most consumed type of fat in the US, despite the fact that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.
Trans fat raises LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and lowers HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you need in order to maintain good heart health!
In fact, trans fats -- as opposed to saturated fats -- have been linked repeatedly to heart disease. They can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.
Clearly, if you value your health, abolishing trans fats from your diet should be at the top of your list. It really doesn't matter how filling the food might be – if it contains trans fats, avoid it at all cost…
So which Type of Food is Really the Most Filling?
The issue of satiety is a big one, especially when trying to manage your weight, and food manufacturers know this. According to the Food Navigator article above, the US diet food market – which is typically focused on increasing satiety without the calories – is valued at $3.64 billion!
Unfortunately, "diet foods" are among the worst foods there are. Nearly all of them are processed and pre-packaged, and contain a slew of chemical additives.
So, what should you eat if you want to increase that feeling of fullness and reduce hunger pangs?
Although healthy fats can help you feel fuller longer, protein beats both fats and carbs when it comes to satiety.
However, the amount and type of protein that you need can vary dramatically, depending on your gender, height, weight, exercise levels, and, most importantly, by your nutritional type.
A strong carb type, for example, can feel stuffed for hours on a meatless salad with a no fat dressing, while the same meal would have a strong protein type craving for food in about twenty minutes. So keep in mind that although you certainly need protein, you have individualized requirements for it.
The way to decipher your requirement is by determining whether you're a protein, carb, or mixed nutritional type.
Protein types, as the name implies, do better on low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diets. A typical ratio might be 40 percent protein and 30 percent each of fats and carbohydrates, but the amounts could easily shift to 50 percent fats and as little as 10 percent carbohydrates depending on individual genetic requirements.
Carb types, meanwhile, normally feel best when the majority of their food is vegetable carbohydrate. Yet they, too, still need some protein and fat in their diets. (Mixed types fall somewhere in between.)
The type of protein that your body thrives on will also vary according to your nutritional type.
Protein types, for instance, thrive on high-purine meats like dark-meat chicken, or high-quality steak, while carb types prefer light meats or even beans as their source of protein.
Some generally good sources of protein (though you need to find out your nutritional type to really tailor your foods for optimal health) include:
- Eggs (ideally, raw and organic)
- Grass-fed beef and bison
- Free-range, organic chicken and ostrich
- Raw dairy products (raw milk, raw-milk cheese, and so on.)
- Wild-caught, mercury-free fish (only eat this if you can confirm via lab-testing that it's not polluted)
When choosing protein sources, it's extremely important to find high-quality varieties.
These would include grass-fed (not grain-fed) organic meats, raw (not pasteurized) dairy products, and wild-caught (not farm-raised) fish that you know is not contaminated with mercury and other pollutants.