Men’s Health: The Facts about Fats — the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

mh-14.jpgSorting out ‘the facts about fats’ and understanding the value of certain fats for your health and wellness can contribute to men’s health in general.

Did you know that there are fats that can kill you? They may do it slowly, but that doesn’t make them any less lethal. You probably eat some of them every day. There are other fats that can make you younger, healthier and trimmer, give you greater longevity, and actually improve men’s health. Would you like to know the difference?

The Good Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, are vital to the growth and functioning of every cell in our bodies. They are the building blocks for all cell membranes, and are found especially in the brain, retina and sperm. EPA and DHA usually come from eating fatty fish like salmon, or from supplements of fish oils. Why are they ‘good?’ Among other benefits, EPA and DHA:

  • Support development and maintenance of brain function
  • Stabilize mood and effectively decrease depression
  • Protect the heart and blood vessels against atherosclerosis
  • Help prevent cancers of the prostate, colon and breast
  • Reduce Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Make skin softer and more supple

These fats are even good for improving your dog’s coat!

The Bad Fats

Saturated fats from red meats (beef, pork, lamb), and from lard, all contribute to increasing inflammation, hardening your arteries and promoting heart disease. But there are some exceptions – short-chain saturated fats, like those found in butter and coconut oil, do not clog vessels or contribute heart problems. In spite of what you’ve heard about butter, it’s both tasty and beneficial (just ask the French), and is vastly healthier than hydrogenated margarine.

The Ugly Fats

Trans-fats are man-made fats that don’t exist in nature. They are created by bubbling hydrogen through (otherwise harmless) liquid oils while under great pressure and high heat. They’re used in commercial deep-frying, and are added to many foods because they improve ‘shelf-life.’ Some countries have already banned the use of trans-fats in prepared foods, and there’s a grass-roots movement gaining momentum in the U.S. to do the same here.

Fried foods, junk food, baked goods, crackers and margarine are usually loaded with them. Look at ingredient labels for ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially-hydrogenated’ oils, and avoid them if you want to remain healthy. Trans-fats are virtually poisonous, since they are more ‘atherogenic’ (arterial plaque-producing) than any other fat. Numerous research studies have shown trans-fats to be much more deleterious to our hearts than eating saturated fat or pure cholesterol. No levels are ‘safe.’

Choose wisely. Know your fat facts. Avoid hydrogenated oils, reduce your consumption of meats, omit margarine in favor of butter, fry in coconut oil, eat lots of fish, and supplement with omega-3 fish oils every day. These suggestions can improve all men’s health by giving us better moods, cleaner arteries and a longer life.

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