Tag Archives: obesity nutrition

Fats Explained: Unhealthy Trans Fats

Unhealthy Trans Fats

photo used under a creative commons license

Whether you are in treatment for Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, Obesity, emotional eating, or have problems with weight management due to restricting or overeating, you need to know about what fats do in your body once and for all. In other words whether you are obese, underweight or a normal weight, if you are having problems regulating food intake in healthy ways, this series on fat is a must.

Unhealthy Trans-Fats

The trans fatty acids that are detrimental to our health are those that are produced when vegetable oils are heated under pressure with hydrogen and a catalyst, in a process called hydrogenation. These fats are often referred to as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.  In the past few decades, food manufacturers have replaced saturated fats with trans fats in the vast majority of processed foods to prolong their shelf life, and to position their products as a healthier alternative. This was possible because saturated fats were being demonized at the time. Trans fats are found in the majority of processed and fried foods but can also be found in bulk foods such as nuts and fruits, whether or not they are organic. They are so common, it is nearly impossible to buy a processed food without a trans fat.

The following list is a compilation of the adverse effects reported in humans and animals from the consumption of trans fatty acids. This information is based on decades of research done by Dr. Mary Enig and has been confirmed by others.

  • Trans fats lower “good” HDL cholesterol in a dose response manner (the higher the trans fat level in the diet, the lower the HDL cholesterol in the serum).
  • Trans fats raise the bad LDL cholesterol in a dose response manner.
  • Trans fats increase tendency towards blocked arteries.
  • Trans fats raise total serum cholesterol levels 20-30mg.
  • Trans fats lower the amount of cream (volume) in milk from lactating females in all species studied, including humans, thus lowering the overall quality available to the infant.
  • Trans fats increase blood insulin levels in humans in response to glucose load, increasing risk for diabetes.
  • Trans fats increase insulin resistance thus having an undesirable effect in diabetics.
  • Trans fats affect immune response by lowering efficiency of B cell response.
  • Trans fats decrease levels of testosterone in male animals, increase level of abnormal sperm, and interfere with gestation in females.
  • Trans fats cause alterations in cell membranes, including membrane fluidity.
  • Trans fats cause alterations in fat cell size, cell number, and fatty acid composition.
  • Trans fats escalate adverse effects of essential fatty acid deficiencies.

Earlier in the “Fats Explained” series, we discussed Healthy Trans-Fats. You can read about healthy trans fats HERE.

Dr. J. Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist, specializing in the outpatient treatment of obesity and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and binge eating disorder (BED) and the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Let’s Connect!

Like me on Facebook

Twitter @drrenae

Contact Dr Norton by phone 513-205-6543 or by form

Inquire about booking Dr Norton for a speaking engagement

Read About Dr Norton

View video about Dr Norton

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship. This information is not necessarily the position of Dr. J. Renae Norton or The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity.

©2013, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2013, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’.

Fats Explained: Essential Fatty Acids – Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Whether you suffer from Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, Obesity, emotional eating, or have problems with weight management due to restricting or overeating, you need to know about what fats do in your body once and for all. In other words whether you are obese, underweight or a normal weight, if you are having problems regulating food intake in healthy ways, this series on fat is a must. If you missed my article about saturated and unsaturated fats, be sure to read it HERE.

Omega 3 Salmon

Omega 3, 5 & 6 fatty acids are poly-unsaturated fats while Omega 7 and 9 fatty acids are mono-unsaturated fats.  The name “Omega” indicates how far from the end of the molecule (i.e. the omega position is the last letter in the Greek alphabet) the first double bond occurs. In an Omega 3 fat it occurs on the third carbon atom from the end of the molecule, in an Omega 5 it occurs 5 from the end of the molecule and so on.

Polyunsaturated Essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are referred to as Essential Fatty Acids; i.e. fats that our bodies need them to function, but are not capable of producing. As a result, we need to obtain Omega-3 Fatty Acids directly from dietary sources.

It is best to obtain Omega 3 directly from the foods that are rich in them. The chart below is a good guide.

Sources of Omega 3

In addition to supporting the heart, brain and eyes, studies show that Omega-3s:

  • Reduce inflammation throughout the body
  • Keep blood from clotting excessively
  • Maintain the fluidity of cell membranes
  • Lower the amount of lipids (fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides) circulating in the bloodstream
  • Decrease platelet aggregation, preventing excessive blood clotting
  • Inhibit thickening of the arteries by decreasing endothelial cells’ production of a platelet-derived growth factor (the lining of the arteries is composed of endothelial cells)
  • Increase the activity of another chemical derived from endothelial cells (endothelium-derived nitric oxide), which causes arteries to relax and dilate
  • Reduce the production of messenger chemicals called cytokines, which are involved in the inflammatory response associated with atherosclerosis
  • Reduce the risk of becoming obese and improve the body’s ability to respond to insulin by stimulating the secretion of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate food intake, body weight and metabolism, and is expressed primarily by adipocytes (fat cells)
  • Help prevent cancer cell growth

Conditions or symptoms that indicate a need for more Unsaturated Omega-3 foods:

  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Joint pain

Unsaturated Omega-3s have been show to protect against:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Attention Disorders
  • Skin Disorders
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Digestive Difficulties

To Get the Most Polyunsaturated Essential Omega-3 Fat

Research indicates that omega-3s may be better absorbed from food than supplements. Norwegian researchers compared 71 volunteers’ absorption of omega-3s (EPA and DHA) from salmon, smoked salmon, cod (14 ounces of fish per week) versus cod liver oil (3 teaspoons per day). Cooked salmon provided 1.2 grams of omega-3s daily, while cod liver oil provided more than twice as much: 3 grams of omega-3s per day.

Despite the fact that the salmon group got less than half the amount of omega-3s as the cod liver oil group, blood levels of omega-3s increased quite a bit more in those actually eating salmon than in those taking cod liver oil. (This is such great news, as it is a hard sell getting patients to take their cod liver oil :-). My grandmother used to line us all up and it wasn’t an option not to take it. But most people did not grow up that way.)

The researchers found that after 8 weeks, EPA levels rose 129% and DHA rose 45% in those eating cooked salmon compared to 106% and 25%, respectively, in those taking cod liver oil.  In the group eating smoked salmon, blood levels of omega-3s rose about one-third less than in the salmon group. In those eating cod, the rise in omega-3s was very small.

But that’s not all. Concurrent with the rise in omega-3s in those who simply enjoyed a couple of meals featuring salmon, a drop was seen in blood levels of a number of chemicals that lead to inflammation (TNFalpha, IL-8, leukotriene B4, and thromboxane B2). The researchers think omega-3s may be better absorbed from fish because fish contains these fats in the form of triglycerides, while the omega-3s in almost all refined fish oils are in the ethyl ester form.

Once absorbed from the Salmon, the body converts omega-3s from triglycerides, to ester forms, as needed. The body does this naturally on it’s own. Since we want triglycerides to be as low as possible, this is a good thing.

Bottom line: Eat wild caught Salmon, 14 oz’s. a week, or eat less of that and include flax and walnuts along with grass-fed protein.  At the very least take a fermented, non-refined fish oil such as Blue Ice, from Green Pastures, every day!

The most common Omega-3s are α-Linolenic acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Compared with their plant Omega 3 counterparts, the marine Omega 3’s have another advantage; they are excellent sources of low fat protein.  They are also critical to our neurological well-being.  Fish oil, when combined with exercise, is the only thing presently known to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

In our next blog post, we’ll discuss Omega-6 Fatty Acids, and the importance of balancing your Omega-3s and Omega-6s!

Updated on Aug 5 2013.

Dr. J. Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist, specializing in the outpatient treatment of obesity and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and binge eating disorder (BED) and the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Let’s Connect!

Take my new Eating Disorder survey!

Like me on Facebook

Twitter @drrenae

Contact Dr Norton by phone 513-205-6543 or by form

Inquire about booking Dr Norton for a speaking engagement

Read About Dr Norton

View video about Dr Norton

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship. This information is not necessarily the position of Dr. J. Renae Norton or The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity.

©2013, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2013, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’.

Fats Explained: Saturated and Unsaturated Fats

fats explained

Whether you suffer from Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating, Obesity, emotional eating, or have problems with weight management due to restricting or overeating, you need to know about what fats do in your body once and for all. In other words whether you are obese, underweight or a normal weight, if you are having problems regulating food intake in healthy ways, this series on fat is a must.

For decades, we have been told that saturated fats were unhealthy, and that they were the root cause of the epidemics of heart disease, obesity and high cholesterol in our society. What we know today is that saturated fats are not the problem. It is the polluted and/or processed version of saturated fats along with the overabundance of processed unsaturated fats that are causing the problems. Saturated fats such as grass-fed animal fats and coconut oil, which is mostly a medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) along with unsaturated Omega 3 fats and the naturally occurring trans-fat CLA, are exceptionally good, indeed, healing for the body. Whereas man-made trans-fats and vegetable or seed fats that have been hydrogenated are literally killing us.

So in a nutshell:

Good Fat = saturated grass-fed animal fat, coconut fat (medium chain fatty acid) and unsaturated Omega 3 fats, especially those from natural sources such as flax seed, salmon, walnuts and leafy greens. (See next in series for complete list)

Bad Fat = Unsaturated trans-fats, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated vegetable and seed fats that have been heated and/or hydrogenated.  Corn, soy, safflower, flax, cottonseed, canola, peanut, and sesame oils should be avoided either because they are innately unhealthy or because of the manner in which they have been processed.

Types of Fats

There are several ways to categorize fats: Saturated or unsaturated; Mono or polyunsaturated; Trans or non-transfat; and Short chain (SCFA), Medium chain (MCFA) and Long chain (LCFA). Among the monounsaturated and the polyunsaturated fats there are the Omega fats, which are divided into Essential (Omegas 3 and 6) and Non-Essential (Omega 5, 7, and 9) fatty acids.

Saturated vs Unsaturated Fat

Most fats are either saturated or unsaturated. There are over a dozen saturated fats, but we mainly consume Butyric, Palmiric, Myristic, Lauric and Stearic saturated fats. Unsaturated fats, also called the Omegas 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9 are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated and either essential or non-essential.

When an oil is saturated, it means that the molecule has all the hydrogen atoms it can hold.  Unsaturated means that there are spaces between some of the hydrogen atoms. This can be a problem, because opening the structure of the molecule makes it susceptible to attack by free radicals.

Free radicals damage healthy cells.  When unsaturated oils are exposed to free radicals through the process of hydrogenation, the cells in the oil age, and the oils can become rancid. Not only are they capable of becoming rancid in the jar in which they are stored, they may also become rancid in our bodies, which contributes to various cancers including skin cancer. In contrast, unrefined cold-pressed coconut oil, which is primarily a saturated medium chain fatty acid, does not become rancid, and never needs refrigeration, assuming that its structure has not been damaged by processing. (Always buy unrefined, cold-pressed nut and seed oils instead of the refined version.)

Characteristics of Healthy Saturated Fats

Saturated fats from grass-fed, raw or lightly pasteurized dairy (milk, cream, butter, cheese, cottage cheese) grass-fed/grass-finished beef, pastured pork and poultry (that are fed non-GMO grains and are usually organic) coconut and palm kernel oil and cacao have the following health benefits:

  • Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50% of cell membranes. They give cells their necessary stiffness and integrity.
  • Saturated fats play a vital role in the health of bones. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of dietary fats should be saturated.
  • Saturated fats lower lipoprotein – A substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease.
  • Saturated fats protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins.
  • Saturated fats enhance the immune system.
  • Saturated fats are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids. Specifically, omega-3 essential fatty acids are better retained in the tissue when the diet is rich in saturated fats.

Unsaturated Fats (for the geeks)

Unlike the saturated fats that have a single bond between carbon atoms, monounsaturated fats have a single double bond between carbon atoms while polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds between carbon atoms. Unsaturated fats are primarily made up of the Omega fatty acids 3,5,6,7, and 9. (Trans-fats are also unsaturated. Stay tuned for our article on Trans Fats.)

Stay tuned for part 2 of this four part series.  In Part 2 we’ll talk about Omega Fatty Acids.

Updated on Aug 5 2013.

Dr. J. Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist, specializing in the outpatient treatment of obesity and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, and binge eating disorder (BED) and the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the Director of The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Let’s Connect!

Take my new Eating Disorder survey!

Like me on Facebook

Twitter @drrenae

Contact Dr Norton by phone 513-205-6543 or by form

Inquire about booking Dr Norton for a speaking engagement

Read About Dr Norton

View video about Dr Norton

Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship. This information is not necessarily the position of Dr. J. Renae Norton or The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity.

©2013, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2013, Dr J Renae Norton. http://edpro.wpengine.com’.

Source: The Skinny on Fats