Why the Fatty Acid Composition of the Standard American Diet is Harmful

Most of us don’t put a lot of thought into the foods that we eat.  At most we might consider if a food is healthy or unhealthy.  We are instinctually designed to eat for survival, not to ponder over the composition of our food.  Yet, in the modern world of the agriculture and food industries, what we take for granted as being a good food is often far from it.  This is exemplified nicely with fat.

It is difficult to completely avoid every aspect of the standard American diet.  This certainly comes at a cost.  One of these prices that we have paid for the convenience of the standard American diet is the loss of our traditional fats as a staple in our diet.  As part of the primal diet known as the Paleo Diet, fats were consumed without prejudice.  They were consumed in meats, nuts and to lesser degrees in some plants.  Yet, now we almost have to seek out quality fats.  Worse yet, there is great confusion surrounding the consumption of fat.

Fat-phobia (Fatty Acid Avoidance)

I seem to remember a saying that goes something like this.  “Tell the lie often enough and loud enough and the masses will believe it.”  While this applied to other parts of history, it also applies to the food industry.  It started with the premise that if you eat fat, you would become fat.  This was falsehood number one.  Second, fats, especially saturated fats which contain cholesterol, were manipulatively linked to cardiovascular disease.  And from here the lies abound.  We were lead to believe that the fats that man had lived off of for centuries as part of the primal diet were now somehow detrimental to our health in the 20th century.

Fatty Acid Replacements

What we were literally sold in return was not a better form of fat, but a fat that would sit on the shelf longer and make the food manufacturers more money.  They even came with catchy names like margarine.  Yet what we now realize is that this form of fatty, what we call trans fatty acids, was something that our bodies could not easily process.  This toxic substance was in fact more harmful to our health than the saturated fat that it was supposed to replace.  While these foods are less popular in years past due to the acknowledgement of their inherent disease promoting qualities, the standard American diet still suffers when it comes to fat content.  What was once margarine has been replaced with partially hydrogenated soy bean oil.  However, don’t let the fancy name fool you, as it is still a trans fatty acid.

Let’s have some fat

Do you like flavor in your food?  If so, then you will appreciate the role that fat plays.  Fat is flavorful.  Not only that, it is a critical component to our diet due to its role in helping make hormones, nourishing our brains, helping us control inflammation and supporting regeneration of tissue when necessary.  Yet these benefits are only available when consuming fat that is part of the primal diet.  The fats that are typically part of the standard American diet have just the opposite effect and are significantly damaging to the health of the body.  Fats from the primal diet are derived from grass fed meats, wild game, fish, nuts, seeds, and grasses.  This should make sense as these are food that would be available to our paleo ancestors.  So as we attempt to mimic them through the paleo lifestyle to optimize health, we want to consume the same foods.

The standard American diet is full of pitfalls and there is hardly one filled with more mistruths and outright lies than the story of fats.  Full of inflammatory fats that rob your health, the standard American diet is devoid of the anti-inflammatory omega 3’s that so many Americans are deficient in.  Thus, when it comes to fats, you will not go wrong my consuming a primal diet high in quality fats.

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