Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fats to Eat and Fats to Avoid for Better Health

I’m often asked my opinion on fat, so here it is! The bottom line – we need fat but we need the right kind. Fat is used to build our cell membranes and is the starting point for many hormones. It is required for our body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins – A, D, E, and K. It provides us with energy. It regulates body temperature and cushions the organs. It is essential for infant brain development and for the female reproductive system (a woman will not ovulate unless she has sufficient body fat).

There are two types of fats – saturated and unsaturated (further defined as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Saturated fats are solid while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are much more sensitive to light and heat. When heated they oxidize forming “free radicals” that damage cells and are linked to a variety of diseases including cancer and heart disease.

Another fat we hear of are trans fatty acids. These are formed during the process of hydrogenation. Polyunsaturated oils, usually corn, soybean, safflower, or canola, are heated to high temperatures and injected with hydrogen atoms. During the heating process the nutrients in the oils are destroyed, the oils become solid and have oxidized. Trans fats have been linked to many ailments, including cancer, heart disease, and reproductive problems. Trans fats are commonly found in commercial baked goods, cookies, crackers, margarines, vegetable shortenings, and processed dairy products.

Therefore, I recommend that you avoid foods containing polyunsaturated oils and trans fats. So what are the healthy fats to eat? Butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and cod liver oil.

Butter is high in fat-soluble vitamins, particularly vitamins A & D. These are essential for growth, healthy bones, proper development of the brain and nervous systems, and for normal sexual development. Butter can be used for baking or heating.

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid. This is an antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiparasatical, and antiviral substance. It supports thyroid function, skin, heart health, and weight loss. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are converted in the body into quick energy, and are not stored as fat. Coconut oil is the best oil for heating. It can be used in baking and is the best choice for light stir frying or frying.

Olive oil is rich in antioxidants. It helps the digestive system by reducing gastric acidity, stimulating bile secretion, regulating the emptying of the gall bladder (reduces the risk of gallstones). It is easily absorbed by the intestines and regulates passage of food through the intestines. Olive oil is best used as a condiment as in salad dressings.

Cod liver oil is an excellent source of Vitamin D. This assists the body in absorbing calcium. It is also rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. EPA is essential for the production of prostaglandins, hormones that direct many cellular processes. DHA is vital for the healthy development and functioning of the brain and nervous system.

In writing these monthly columns it is my intention to provide you beneficial information to improve your health. Some topics I write about are more controversial than others. This is one of them. If you’d like more information or to discuss this article please let me know. As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He is an expert in the field of Nutrition and Erectile Dysfunction. His office is in Thiensville, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at, call (262) 389-9907 or go to

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ten More Foods to Have in Your Healthy Diet

Last month I talked about my ten favorite healthy foods and received lots of positive feedback. The truth is there are many healthy foods to eat. So, I decided to discuss another ten foods to include in your healthy diet. Again, they are in no special order. They are all healthy foods that I recommend you eat on a regular basis, unless you are allergic.

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. Other crucifers include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, and Swiss chard. They are all good for you. Broccoli is a great source of protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, beta-carotene, and vitamin A. It contains isothiocynanates that fight cancer and carotenoids that reduce macular degeneration. Also, it is one of the vegetables least contaminated by pesticides, so you don’t have to buy it organic.

Garlic is a wonderful herb to add to foods. Not only does it keep away vampires, but it has been shown to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, protect against cancer, and can be useful in weight control. According to Jonny Bowden in his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, over 1,200 studies have shown garlic to be fat-lowering, anti-clotting, antihypertensive, antimicrobial, antiviral, antiparasitic, and an antioxidant.

If you are going to eat a starchy vegetable sweet potatoes are the ones to have. They are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A, potassium, and calcium. One sweet potato contains one-half of the daily requirements of vitamin C. They also contain quercetin, a strong anti-inflammatory. As a starchy vegetable they will raise blood sugar levels, so diabetics or pre-diabetics, are advised to limit their consumption.

Eggs, yes eggs, and yes the whole egg. They are a great source of protein containing all nine essential amino acids. “Essential” in nutrition talk means your body does not make it so you must eat it. They have vitamins and minerals that help the eyes, brain, and heart. They have also been found to be protective against breast cancer. Don’t worry about the cholesterol – but that is for another article!

Whey protein comes from milk. It is a dairy product, so some people may be sensitive to it. I have it almost every morning as part of my nutritious breakfast. However, you must be very careful with your selection of this product. You want a good quality whey protein. Look for whey protein isolate as opposed to whey protein concentrate. Also, you’d like the whey to come from cows that were not given growth or other hormones and fed on natural grass pastures. Many “health” powders contain artificial flavors and artificial sweeteners – so beware.

Looking for healthy drinks? Of course water is number one, but I also like unsweetened cranberry juice and tea. One of the country’s leading nutritionists, Ann Louise Gittleman utilizes unsweetened cranberry juice at the core of her Fat Flush diet. The key here is unsweetened. It contains many antioxidants and is helpful in relieving urinary tract infections. How does it do this? It prevents bacteria from adhering to bladder cells. Tea is another healthy drink that is high in antioxidants. Both green tea and black tea are known for fighting cancer, while black tea improves blood vessel function and can lower cholesterol.

Olive oil is a healthy fat. It is best used in salad dressings along with vinegar. Please buy extra virgin olive oil, it is the healthiest form. “Extra virgin” means it is from the first pressing and has limited processing. Olive oil is high in antioxidants and in oleic acid, which is a heart healthy fat.

Brown rice is a whole grain and a healthy alternative to white rice. I also like the pasta made from it – a healthy alternative to refined and processed white pasta. As a whole grain it is a great source of fiber, the B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium.

For a red meat alternative try free-range buffalo. It is an excellent source of protein and has less fat than beef. And, being free-range there are no hormones, antibiotics, or chemicals added. Being grass fed, it is source of omega-3 fatty acids, ideal for those of you who aren’t fond of fish.

So, there you have it, ten more foods that are part of a healthy diet. If you’d like more ideas about healthy foods I strongly recommend Jonny Bowden’s book that I referred to above. He also has a great newsletter. You can subscribe at

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He is an expert in the field of Nutrition and Erectile Dysfunction. His office is in Thiensville, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at, call (262) 389-9907 or go to