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Fats and Cholesterol

From The Harcombe diet for men ,Zoe Harcombe

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a substance found in our body that is important for many functions such as cell regeneration, maintaining cells, digestion, brain function, immune system, and hormone production. Our body makes cholesterol because it is so essential for our survival.

There is no such thing as "good" or "bad" cholesterol. Cholesterol needs to be carried in the blood by lipoproteins. LDL carries cholesterol around the body for cell repair, while HDL carries it back to the liver to be reused. Neither LDL nor HDL is "bad" or "good" - they are just carriers of cholesterol.

Many doctors prescribe statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels. However, these drugs can have serious side effects such as memory loss and loss of sex drive. It is important to question whether lowering cholesterol is necessary for everyone and to understand the role cholesterol plays in our body.

What is Fat?

Fat is a waxy substance found in the cell membranes and transported around the body in the blood stream. Just like cholesterol, consuming fat is crucial for our well-being. Every cell of our body depends on adequate fat intake.

There are three types of fats: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. These are the only fats that we should care about on The Harcombe Diet - the ones found naturally in real foods.

Saturated fats are the most stable fats and have all available carbon bonds filled with hydrogen. Monounsaturated fats have one double bond, while polyunsaturated fats have two or more pairs of double bonds.

*The fourth type of fat, which is made by man, is manufactured by hydrogenating vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature. These are typically found in margarine, low-fat spreads, and many processed foods, and should be avoided as they have been shown to have serious, likely carcinogenic properties.

Every real food that contains fat has all three real fats in it - only the proportions vary. Hence, meat, fish, eggs, dairy foods, nuts, seeds, and oils all contain saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat.

The key point is that all real foods, with a fat content, contain all three fats. None of these fats is better or worse than the others - they are all needed and they are all found in real food in the ‘right’ proportions for our survival.

So, don't be afraid to include healthy fats in your diet. They are essential for your well-being and can be found in many real, whole foods.

What's the takeaway on all this?

The longer we have been eating a particular food in its natural form, the less likely it is to be bad for us. We have been eating fat and cholesterol from animals and their by-products for millions of years. If these things were bad for us, we would have either died out or evolved to not need them. As neither of these things has happened, it is safe to say that eating animals and animal products is not harmful.

Compared to our long history of eating animals, agriculture and large-scale access to carbohydrates are relatively new developments. Sugar consumption has also increased dramatically in recent times. It is more likely that these modern foods are responsible for modern diseases than animal products.

Another way of looking at it: if we started eating animals 24 hours ago, agriculture (large scale access to carbohydrates) developed four minutes ago and sugar consumption has increased twenty fold in the last five seconds. Which food is more likely to be responsible for any modern disease?

While low-fat dairy products can be a compromise, it is important to eat real, full-fat foods when having a meal that is high in fat. Dairy products contain important fat-soluble vitamins that need fat to be absorbed by the body. Nature puts these vitamins in fats for a reason, and it is not wise for humans to remove the fat and lose the delivery mechanism.

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