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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
Fats in Nutrition Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy There are four different kinds of fats in human nutrition. Fat is categorized according to its saturation. Saturation refers to the number of hydrogen atoms attached to the fat molecule. When a fat molecule contains the maximum number of hydrogen atoms, it is said to be "saturated." It is called "hard fat," because it remains hard at room temperature. If one pair of hydrogen atoms is missing, the molecule is said to be "monounsaturated." An example is olive oil. Monounsaturated fat is the healthiest, most easily digested form of fat. If more than one pair of hydrogen atoms is missing, it is said to be "polyunsaturated." These are the thin oils commonly used for frying and for salad dressing.

If an unsaturated vegetable fat is altered by adding hydrogen atoms, which did not exist in nature, the fat molecule is said to be "hydrogenated." Hydrogenation transforms the shape of a fatty acid to a "trans" form. You can visualize this by imagining a boat-shaped molecule being transformed to a chair-shaped molecule. This molecule does not occur in nature, and the body has difficulty digesting it. This is the problem with margarine — it contains hydrogenated, trans-fatty acids. Studies show this type of molecule to be more associated with artery disease than the saturated ("hard") fat found in butter. Hydrogenated fat also is commonly associated with junk food: potato chips. cookies, etc. It is very hard to digest and is strongly associated with vascular disease.

A fat molecule is composed of three fatty acid molecules, sixteen to eighteen carbons long, bound to each carbon of the three-carbon-long glycerol molecule. It is in the fatty acid chains where saturation, monounsaturation, polyunsaturation, and hydrogenation occur.

There are one, maybe two fatty acids which cannot be manufactured by the body and must be consumed from outside sources. Linoleic acid is definitely necessary for human nutrition, and it may be that linolenic acid also is necessary. Animal foods, except for fish and poultry, are low in linoleic acid, but they do meet human needs. Linoleic acid is abundant in vegetables. Linolenic acid is abundant in both vegetables and animal foods, and it is practically impossible to be in short supply of this nutrient unless starvation also is at your doorstep. The body knows how to manufacture the fatty substances it needs with the exceptions of linoleic and linolenic acids.

The Result of Excess Fat Intake

The body can cope with a relatively small intake of excess fats. What constitutes an excess is in debate; however, you can be sure that more than forty percent of your calories from fat is an excess. To get an excess of fat in your diet, you must eat a junk-food and/or animal- source diet, not properly balanced with plant-source food.

If you do eat an excess of fat, the result is oxidation of these excess fats with the production of free radicals, molecules with an extra electron. Oxygen comes with four electrons in the common gaseous O2 state, which is dissolved in body tissues and readily available for oxidation. When only three of these electrons are used, as is the case in fat breakdown, that leaves an extra electron. The result is the formation of the highly active and reactive hydroxyl radical (OH-). Your body is subjected to the damage caused by this extra electron.

The hydroxyl free radical must be distinguished from the oxide free radical mentioned in the section on IV Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy. The action of the oxide free radical, unlike the hydroxyl free radical, is to activate enzymatic processes at the level of cellular mitochondria, the chemical labs of cellular metabolism. Hydroxyl free radicals are bad news for the body and must be neutralized. Oxides are invigorating for the body and should be left to do their good work.

Hydroxyl free radicals are neutralized better in the young body, which has an abundance of antioxidants, molecules which absorb and neutralize this extra electron. As we age, we have less and less antioxidants, and this makes an excess of fat in the diet even harder to handle, subjecting the body to the carcinogenic and degenerative effects of these highly reactive electrons. This effect can be ameliorated by taking oral antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E.

The association between excess fat and degenerative diseases, such as vascular heart disease and arthritis, is definitively established. The association between excess dietary fat and the development of a variety of cancers also is well established. Vascular disease, caused by the peroxidation of excess fats, also causes generalized vascular disease throughout the body, eventually causing kidney, pancreas, and liver failure, as well as cerebrovascular clogging with resulting strokes.

Excess animal fats also cause alteration in the sexual drives of children, early onset of menses and the late onset of menopause. The cause of this is debatable, and it may be related to the hormones fed to animals to produce accelerated growth.

The litany of adverse conditions caused by excess fat intake does not end here. We could talk about acne, obesity, increased risk of heart attack, etc. Most people are trying to do something about it. Unfortunately, most are doing the wrong thing.

One of the wrong things you can do is switch from butter to margarine, which contains hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is worse for your body than butter fat. Only the switch from excess fat to moderate levels of fat will get the job done.

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The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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