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EarthSave promotes a shift toward a healthy plant-based diet.
Vol 19 No. 2
April 2008

Five Shocking Facts on Fats to Transform You from Flab to Fab

By Dr. Leslie Van Romer

While the word fat is a three-letter word, it has the connotation of a “four-letter” word. Fat has the power to sting, sadden, madden, irritate, frustrate, incite, shame, and scar. It’s a word we’d rather not read, talk, or hear about ever again, and especially not see. But it remains ever-present and heavy in our minds and lives, and for obvious reasons.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, fat is a good thing. We need it -- just please, not so much of it. Contrary to the American mentality, “more is better,” more fat is not better. In fact, whether it comes from a cow, a fish, a vegetable, a seed, or an olive, too much fat adds fat to our fat. Worse than that, fat is deadly. It pulls the trigger on our biggest health killers: heart disease, cancers, diabetes, stroke, and atherosclerosis.

Having fat problems? Strip away the emotions trapped in the layers, make an honest, clear-headed assessment of what you’re putting into your body, and then do something about it -- that’s the hard part.

It’s time to face your demon.

Start by knowing these five fat facts on fats.

1. Where should almost all the fats you need come from?

Beef, chicken, turkey, cheese, fish, vegetable oils, olive oil, or whole plant foods?

This may shock you right into that next pants size down, but fats don’t “come from” anywhere -- your body makes them! No kidding. While you are agonizing over the good fat/bad fat debate, fueled by the “fat” industries and our own ignorance, your smart body is making almost all the fat you need from the carbohydrates you eat.

What does this mean to you? It means you need to eat very little fat, and especially not added oils and high fat foods. In fact, if you eat a variety of whole plant foods every day, you don’t need to think about fat at all -- your body thinks for you.

2. What’s the worst fat?

Of all the fats, what’s the worst kind of fat of all? Butter fat, margarine fat, oil fat, beef fat, plant fat, saturated fat, hydrogenated fat, or trans fat? Bar none, the worst kind of fat is too much fat -- made by too many consumed calories.

The bottom line that affects your bottom’s line is this: your body doesn’t care where excess calories come from. If you overload and tip the calorie-intake, your body efficiently turns extra calories into fat and dumps fat into storage -- your fat cells. When your fat cells get too fat, your clever body will simply make more fat cells to accommodate the influx of more fat.

Just what we all want -- more fat cells! These cells do get skinnier with weight loss, but they never disappear! Once you make a fat cell, that cell is embedded in your hip, thigh, tummy, butt, arm, breast, or chin for life -- always ready for that instant refill upon demand.

Remember, fat goes from your lips to your hips, so get a grip. Stop eating when your brain tells you to -- before your stuffed stomach begs for mercy!

3. But isn’t olive oil a good fat?

If you listen to the creed of the day, you would think so, but let’s use simple logic.

If your body makes almost all the fats it needs, then it serves no purpose to add more fat to your ready-made fat, especially a highly concentrated, refined fat that comes without any nutrition. Added oils, including olive oil, offer you one thing only: calories, and those calories come with a fat price tag -- more fat. It just so happens that between 14 and 17 percent of olive oil is saturated fat. How can extra calories, and some from saturated fat, possibly be good for you?

4. But what about essential fats that you must get from outside sources?

There are only two essential fatty acids (essential means your body can’t make them) -- linoleic and alpha-linoleic acids, which your body needs in very small quantities.

Linoleic fatty acid is an omega-6 fat, a familiar buzz word, and alpha-linoleic is an omega-3 fat. Let’s skip the omega details here. Suffice to say that whether a fat is called saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, omega-6, omega-3, or Queen Olive, if you add too much fat to already-made fat, no matter who tells you what, that fat is a bad fat and shows up on you -- right where you don’t want it.

Instead of trying to remember all the pet names for fats and what they mean, it’s a lot easier to remember the best sources for those two essential fatty acids that you need: whole plant foods, not from concentrated oils or fish and other animal fats.

The whole, plant foods richest in linoleic acids are sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds, walnuts, butternuts, soybeans, and corn. Alpha-linoleic acids are sourced by dark, green-leafy vegetables, broccoli, ground flax seeds, soybeans, walnuts, and butternuts. However, if you eat a varied diet of mostly whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, beans, and a significantly lesser amount of raw nuts and seeds, you can get plenty of essential good fats without consciously having to choose special foods high in those particular fats. And lose weight besides.

As John McDougall, M.D., author of several books, including The McDougall Plan -- 12 Days to Dynamic Health, says, a plant-based diet provides all the essential fats we need. George Eisman, registered dietician, author of The Most Noble Diet and Diet Against Cancer, tells us that a diet rich in just whole fruits and vegetables offers an average of 5 percent calories from essential fatty acids, more than the 3 percent the government recommends.

5. How can plants possibly provide enough fat?

Again, your body makes almost all the fats it needs, without thinking about how much fat is in plant foods. But to satisfy curiosity, let’s take a peek at the fat numbers. They speak volumes louder than hearsay and big fat lies.

Oranges contain 2 percent fat, apples 4 percent, bananas 4 percent, berries 10 percent, brown rice 7 percent, almonds 74 percent, kidney beans 3 percent, broccoli 9 percent, and Romaine lettuce 10 percent - yes, even lettuce has fat! On the wrong side of the fat tracks are salmon with 48 percent fat, beef 67 percent, chicken 48 percent, cheddar cheese 73 percent, eggs 62 percent, and 2 percent milk 35 percent fat. Way too much fat and saturated fat at that -- the kind that clogs arteries and sets the unpleasant stage for killer diseases, not to mention adding layers to our layers.

If you fill up on nature’s best-for-you foods -- whole plant foods, with the emphasis on fresh, fruits and vegetables -- you can cut the internal and external chatter about which foods provide which fats and all the other nutrients, micronutrients, fiber and enzymes. Nature has done that higher nutrient math for you!

When it comes to fats, the only thing you have to remember is: “Extra cals are not your pals.” Your weight warriors and health heroes are whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, legumes, sprouts, and raw, unsalted nuts and seeds.


Dr. Leslie Van Romer is the author of weight loss, body-best book, Getting Into Your Pants, chiropractor, weight loss cheerleader, and feel-good-about-you motivational health speaker. For more information contact her: 360-683-8844 or 888-375-3754 or visit: