Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fatten Up Your Veggies

So, Iowa State University has concluded in one of its nutritional studies that it is healthier for us to eat veggies that are drizzled with a little oil than, say, raw and plain. Apparently, the nutritional benefit of the plant -- vitamins, minerals, antioxidants -- is better absorbed by the body if we add a little fat to the mix. Those subjects who ate fat-free salad dressing (an oxymoron, really) did not absorb the phytonutrients as well as those who ate regular dressings.

Let me stray onto the path of fat-free for a second. As any of my readers know, I am anti-fat-free. I hate the movement. I hate that it's upped our sugar intake And I hate that people still follow the advice like dumb sheep. The problem lies in the limited word choice -- fat. A rational mind would assume that eating fat makes you fat. That's where the problem begins. The fats we eat are called fat, but we should start calling them "lipids" -- the proper chemical term -- or dietary fats (you choose). Lipids, or dietary fats, are insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents -- monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phosphatides, cerebrosides, sterols, terpenes, fatty alcohols, and fatty acids. The fats we EAT -- lipids, or dietary fats -- give us energy, carry fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, K (Do you think it's a coincidence that we have a collective deficiency of Vitamin D in America? We can't absorb the darn vitamin because we're not eating the fat it needs to be absorbed.) Dietary fats are also used as structural components of the brain and cell membranes. This is extremely important -- brain (for obvious reasons) and cell components. The cell is the foundational block of the human body. Without solid cells, nothing else can be built. We need strong cells. We need fat to build cell structures.

Now we understand the importance of dietary fats. In light of this, it comes as no surprise that the vitamins in the fruits and vegetables are better absorbed if we add a bit of dietary fat. Consider the dietary fat a partner in the digestive process, a helper.

I'm not suggesting we all douse our green beans with scads of butter, particularly if the butter is not organic, but I rejoice when any study confirms that going "fat free" makes no sense. Eating fat does not make you fat. Eating high cholesterol foods does not give you high cholesterol. We need a clearer language to help understand the difference between dietary fat and the extra spongy yellow adipose tissue we're all lugging around and the difference between the exogenous cholesterol (the stuff we eat) and the endogenous cholesterol (the stuff we make in our bodies).

We need new words for a smarter population of eaters.

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