048. Fats And Fallacies – Fats Part 1

The Facts About Fats

What’s a fatty acid or a triglyceride?

When you listen to this episode you’ll get a clear understanding of the differences between unsaturated, polyunsaturated, mono unsaturated and saturated fats as well as hydrogenated oils and trans fats.

The historical context is revealed (with a little chemistry) on how “fat” got turned into another “F” word.

You’ll also hear about the “good” fats and the “bad” fats, except you might be surprised at which is which.

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The World of Muscle

Link: www.theworldofmuscle.com

Hosts: Randy Roach and Tamas Acs

Episode #48: Fats and Fallacies

In This Episode:

Fatty Acids

Triglycerides

Essential Fatty Acids

Saturated Fats

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

Hydrogenated Oils

Eicosanoids/Prostaglandins

Episode Summary and Updating

Tamas and Randy began this first of a two part series on fats with Randy stating that he had a pretty good understanding of the subject, but he is by no means a lipid biochemist

Fats are the more complicated and controversial of the macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats
Fats have ben much maligned over the past several decades

Most are confused over the terms: fatty acids, EFAs, triglycerides, saturated, unsaturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, phospholipids and cholesterol

All these terms, fall within the family of lipids

Fats and oils are basically the same with oils typically being liquid at room temperatures and fats holding a solid form

Animal fats are usually predominantly saturated fats where vegetable oils are primarily unsaturated fat

Due to the decades-long bad press on cholesterol and saturated fats, one of the more common terms thrown around today is triglycerides as their levels in the blood are testd along with HDL and LDL cholesterol

The building blocks for a triglyceride is a three carbon backbone called glycerol that have attached to it three fatty acids, thus “tri” for triglyceride or TG

Triglycerides (TGs) are found in both animal and vegetable fats

TGs are broken down in the small intestine and also reassembled for transport and usage within various cells of the body

Another common term is essential fatty acids (EFAs) which are deemed “essential” because our bodies can not produce them internally so we must attain them through food

Tamas made mention that there are essential fats, essential proteins, but not necessarily essential carbohydrates

There are many short, medium and long chain fatty acids that the body can produce as long as the two essential fats are made available through the diet

Fatty acids can be saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated

A triglyceride can be composed of three similar fatty acids or a variety of short, medium or long chain fatty acids with the long chain fatty acids being saturated or unsaturated

It is the longer chain fatty acids that can be either saturated or polyunsaturated (unsaturated)

Short and medium chain fatty acids are usually all saturated fats

What is saturated and unsaturated?

A fatty acid is a chain of carbon atoms with a methyl group at one end and a carboxyl (acid) group at the other

A saturated fatty acid has all of its carbon atoms saturated with hydrogen at all of its available bonding sites

These saturated fatty acids are straight and pack tightly thus a triglyceride with a good number of saturated fatty acids will be solid at room temperature

Unsaturated fats are missing hydrogen atoms thus containing one, two, or more double bonds where the hydrogen is missing

Wherever there is a double bond on a fatty acid there is what is called a CIS bend in the fatty acid chain

These bends prevent the molecules from packing tightly together thus they are liquid oils

The bends all give unique shape and function to the fatty acid

The double bonds are also reactive and very unstable especially in the presence of heat

Thus, saturated fats are more stable and heat resistant

The two essential fatty acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6 are very unstable and prone to reactions and rancidity

Omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) means that the first of three double bonds on the fatty acid chain begins at the third carbon atom from the methyl end of the chain –

Omega-6 (linoleic acid) has its first of two double bonds beginning at the sixth carbon atom from the methyl end of the chain

Omega-3s have one more bend in their chains than Omega-6s and again as mention, these bends shape the molecule for specific functions within the body

The hydrogenation process chemically alters an oil (polyunsaturated fat into a pseudo saturated solid fat

Tamas read off the hydrogenation process as described by Dr. Mary Enig:

Hydrogenation: This is the process that turns polyunsaturates, normally liquid at room temperature, into fats that are solid at room temperature—margarine and shortening. To produce them, manufacturers begin with the cheapest oils—soy, corn, cottonseed or canola, already rancid from the extraction process—and mix them with tiny metal particles—usually nickel oxide. The oil with its nickel catalyst is then subjected to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor. Next, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture to give it a better consistency; the oil is yet again subjected to high temperatures when it is steam-cleaned. This removes its unpleasant odor. Margarine’s natural color, an unappetizing grey, is removed by bleach. Dyes and strong flavors must then be added to make it resemble butter. Finally, the mixture is compressed and packaged in blocks or tubs and sold as a health food.

Randy mentioned how Crisco was released on the market in 1911 by Proctor and Gamble so hydrogenated oils were making their way into our diet very early in the 20th century

The fact that the product had to be so heavily deodorized and coloured due to its pathetic natural appearance after the hydrogenation process was evidence of the detrimental effect of the dietary dumb-down of medical academia at that same time

The hydrogenated oils are toxic to the human body and interfere with natural processes

They remained in western diets for decades until researchers such as Dr. Mary Enig began to expose them in the 1980s

The politically driven attack on natural animal fats and cholesterol drove millions to eat the toxic hydrogenated fats for many years

Tamas then read off more on the hydrogenation process:

Partially hydrogenated margarines and shortenings are even worse for you than the highly refined vegetable oils from which they are made because of chemical changes that occur during the hydrogenation process. Under high temperatures, the nickel catalyst causes the hydrogen atoms to change position on the fatty acid chain. Before hydrogenation, pairs of hydrogen atoms occur together on the chain, causing the chain to bend slightly and creating a concentration of electrons at the site of the double bond. This is called the cis formation, the configuration most commonly found in nature. With hydrogenation, one hydrogen atom of the pair is moved to the other side so that the molecule straightens. This is called the trans formation, rarely found in nature. Most of these man-made trans fats are toxins to the body, but unfortunately your digestive system does not recognize them as such.

Tamas mentioned that it really has not been all that long since public disclosure of the dangers of hydrogenated (trans) fats

Ben Weider was actually warning of them in 1978 and Harry Good recommended against them even as far back as the late 1930s

As mentioned, Dr. Mary Enig (former VP of the Weston A. Price Foundation) was working diligently at exposing these toxic fats in the 1980s

Randy stated that there are some naturally occurring trans fats in nature that are not known to be harmful such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) from the fats of ruminant animals

The body does have difficulty distinguishing these compromised hydrogenated fatty acids during their processing in the body

They are believed to displace essential fatty acids in cell membranes

When fats are digested, they are emulsified with bile in order to blend the fats into the digestive juices

The triglycerides are broken down into free fatty acids and monoglycerides

The three carbon glycerol backbone of the triglyceride is never stripped totally of all of its fatty acids

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are processed differently than longer chain fatty acids

MCTs travel from the small intestine into the portal vein that goes straight to the liver to be metabolized for fuel like carbohydrates

The longer chain fatty acids are reassembled back into triglycerides in specialized cells of the small intestine where they are also packaged in protein wrappers and are then referred to as chylomicrons

The chylomicrons then travel through the lymphatic system before being dumped into the bloodstream where they will travel to specific cells or the liver

It is not clearly understood why fats are processed in this manner

Randy again mentioned how the essential fatty acids such as the omega-3s and omega-6s are very volatile due to their double bonds so they should be kept from heat to avoid rancidity

Randy reminded listeners of their show on fermented cod liver oil where they talked about hydrolytic and oxidative rancidity

Hydrolytic rancidity is when the fatty acids are stripped away from the glycerol molecule similar to that of digestion

Oxidative rancidity is when the actual fatty acids begin to break apart wich is more toxic to the body

The fermented cod liver oil seemed to show more hydrolytic rancidity over that of oxidative which lends to the argument that the oil is still viable

Randy continued with concern over EFA oils such as flax and fish oils that are processed into commercial products

He believes that the manufacturing of these commercial supplement oils is still quite questionable and the level of compromise to these volatile fatty acids is uncertain

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are much more stable for cooking because they are fully saturated

MCTs are eight carbons long (capryllic), 10 carbons long (capric) and 12 carbons long (lauric) with lauric being the prominent fatty acid in coconut oil

John Parrillo made MCTs popular in the bodybuilding community back in the 1980s

Tamas mentioned how MCTs are making a comeback especially with the bullet proof coffee craze where people are putting both butter and MCTs in their coffees

Randy stated how the short chain fatty acids such as the four carbon butyric acid and the six carbon caproic acid, like the medium chain triglycerides, all have antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties

Coconut oil contains 42% lauric acid and is a rare source of lauric acid next to human breast milk

Tamas brought up the issue of how grass-fed animals have much higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids opposed to omega-6s which get too high when animals are fed grains

Randy added how eggs can vary from a 1:1 ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s when the chickens are properly fed compared to a 20:1 ratio with the omega-6s being way too high in commercially fed chickens

The subject then turned to other functions for fats other than for fuel such as being constituents in cell membranes and serving as precursors or building blocks to what are known as eicosanoids

Eicosanoids are actually derived from the two EFAs, omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid)

Eicosanoids are very localized hormones unlike endocrine hormones that are generated in certain organs then transported through the bloodstream to target tissues

Eicosanoids are hard to study as they appear only briefly at the cell level

Barry Sears, author of the Zone, popularized this term in the 1990s with his books

With all the demonization of fats moving into the 1990s the EFAs were excused as their importance became more understood

In actuality, none of the naturally occurring fats were ever any threat to human health, but essential to it

Nonetheless, it was only the EFAs that were acceptable back then and many began taking a TB or two per day of flax oil

Eicosanoid is actually a more general term residing over a subset known as prostaglandins

Both omega-3s and omega-6s give rise to differing series of prostaglandins that counteract one another such as dilating bronchial tubes, constricting bronchial tubes, dilating blood vessels, constricting blood vessels, thinning blood, coagulating blood, retention and release of minerals from cells etc

The different series of prostaglandins have been labeled as good and bad with the good series believed to be derived from omega-3s and the bad series from omega-6s

Like every system in the body, there is really no good nor bad but more of a balancing act

Messing with the diet can cause an out of balance especially when over the years our diets have been heavily weighted with omega-6s found predominantly in vegetable oils
In more recent years more have been consuming fish and flaxseed oil In hope of adding more omega-3s to their diets
It is important to keep the EFAs in a tight ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 of omega-6 to omega-3s with properly raised and/or grown foods

As mentioned, consuming concentrated sources of either omega-3s or omega-6s can cause an imbalance, not to mention, risk due to consuming compromised supplemental oils

Randy reminded listeners of a previous show when he told of a friend who took five TBs of flaxseed oil and began bleeding profusely out of his rectum

Randy pointed out that his friend could never come close to eating enough flaxseeds at one time to produce the amount of oil that was consumed

A healthy body with a good diet will produce the prostaglandins it needs when it needs them by taking the EFAs through desaturation and elongation processes where more carbon atoms are added to the chain and additional double bonds are created

One of the detrimental effects of hydrogenated oil is that it interferes with the desaturation processes on the EFAs thus hindering the production of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaeonic acid) which are derived from the EFAs

Randy and Tamas closed off part 1 at this point

 

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