For decades, fat was a word that caused dread and disgust. Ever since the 80’s, low-fat products have slowly conquered supermarket isles around the globe, while the full-fat ones got shoved away in the corners. As a society, we have been constantly told by doctors, nutritionists and health agencies that if we lead a fat-free, supposedly healthy lifestyles, we’ll avoid obesity and cardiovascular problems. But did this dietary shift really improve our health, fitness and overall well-being?
The statistics seem to state quite the opposite. Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have all reached epidemic proportions all around the country, and their prevalence is increasing at a rate faster than ever. And one of the major reasons behind this trend seems to be contained in the fact that together with the harmful fats, we’ve abandoned the healthy ones as well.
Let’s make it clear: fat is an important source of energy for our bodies and they need to obtain a certain amount of it from the food we eat. Fat plays a big role in the construction of cell membranes and the sheaths surround nerves, while also being vital for blood clotting and inflammation.
However, not all fats are created equal. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered as better than saturated fats, and saturated fats are better than artificial trans fats which are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to increase their shelf life and make them solid, easy to use and inexpensive to produce.
In fact, trans fats are the ones that should be avoided at all costs, while all other fats deserve their rightful place in a healthy diet since they offer plenty of health-promoting benefits, such as increasing the metabolic rate and stimulating the burning of excess body fat.
If you have been starving your body of fats so far, now it’s the time to reintroduce these essential nutrients to your life and enhance both your overall health and your weight loss efforts. And here’s where to begin.
1. Fish oil
Fish oil has been proven to aid the body in countless ways, including supporting weight loss, heart health, bone density, insulin sensitivity, fertility, healthy pregnancy, skin health and cognitive functioning. Most of the benefits of fish oil stem from its incredible abundance of omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). To increase your intake of fish oil, you can up your consumption of fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, or buy fish oil capsules.
Regardless of which you choose, you’re guaranteed to get some amazing benefits. Multiples studies have shown that fish oil reduces inflammation, blood triglycerides and arterial plaque instability, thereby protecting the organism against cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition, the DHA and EPA found in fish oil have a powerful ability to enhance the metabolism and increase fat burning by positively altering the gene functioning through various mechanisms which include changing the makeup of cell membranes, altering the transcription of genes and influencing the levels of calcium within the cells.
All of this makes DHA and EPA extremely effective not only at fighting off numerous diseases but in terms of eliminating excess body fat as well. More specifically, these acids have the ability to increase the rate of fat burning by stimulating the activity of enzymes in the liver involved in fat breakdown and oxidation and diminishing the activity of enzymes that promote fat storage, which leads to an improved fatty acid and glucose metabolism. For optimal benefits, most health experts recommend three to four servings of fatty fish per week or a regular daily intake of fish oil supplements.
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