Fats For Fertility

Fat. Does hearing that word carry a positive or negative connotation to you? In the world of food and lifestyle, fats are commonly misunderstood. Some fats are your best friend, while others are your worst enemy. The trick is to learn the difference!

First, let’s get through some basic definitions that are crucial to understanding fats and their differences.

Saturated fats are relatively stable in air and heat and won’t turn rancid (oxidize) easily. Examples of largely saturated fats are butter, coconut oil, and animal fats. Saturated fats are the best for health and fertility.

Unsaturated fats become rancid (oxidized) quickly when exposed to oxygen or heat. Examples of unsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, vegetable oil, etc.

Hydrogenation is the process that creates trans-fats by chemically altering the oil and turning any oil into heat stable oil. Manufacturers do this in order to make fats more stable in their packaging. If the product is exposed to warm temperatures, the oils will not become liquid and leak.

Trans-Fats (also known as Hydrogenated oils) are dangerous to the body, because the body will mistake trans-fat for real fat and will use it for building its cell walls. This is a problem because trans-fats are not like real fat; they prevent the cell walls from being flexible or porous enough for the cell to function properly. They also clog arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. In fact, manufacturers are now required to notify customers of the use of trans-fats on their label. Word of caution: they are only required to label the product if it contains over half of a gram. Read your food labels and stay informed. We want our bodies and our babies’ cells to be built with the best building blocks available!

Oxidation is the process of oxygen in the air stealing (or oxidizing) negatively charged electrons from food molecules. When this happens, the molecules that have lost electrons become ionic and begin searching to replace those lost electrons. The molecules searching are called free radicals. An oil becomes rancid when it is oxidized. The free radicals, in rancid (oxidized) oils, are lethal to rats and can cause several different degenerative diseases. Unsaturated oils tend to oxidize quickly (some come in the package already oxidized), and therefore are not the best option when used for cooking and baking. Reducing the amount of oxidized oils in your diet will greatly enhance you heath and fertility. Because no one is perfect, and we are all exposed to these free radicals, eating a diet high in antioxidants including berries, beans, and apples will help detoxify and rid the body of these free radicals.

Let’s break it up into bad and good fats to better understand how to use good fats to our advantage!

BAD FAT

First and foremost, rethink the oils you cook and bake with, because bad fats are most commonly found in our cooking oils and processed foods. Cooking oils that are most commonly used are corn, canola, cottonseed, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower, and vegetable oil. These oils are NOT good for you and are considered bad fats for fertility and all around health. Here is why: these oils are made from crops often contaminated by molds (most commonly corn and peanut oil) or genetically modified crops (most commonly corn, canola, and soy). The fats contained in these oils promote inflammation and disease. They oxidize extremely easily (even from sunlight) and do even more damage when cooked or heated. (Tip: Margarine is almost always made of these bad fats. Real butter is actually a healthier choice.)

Further, these oils contain bad fats. They have excessively high levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fat and trans-fats (previously discussed). Omega-6 fatty acids are harmful and promote inflammation and disease when they are not balanced by their partner omega-3. In the past, humans ate foods containing a ratio of one omega 6 to one omega 3. In modern day America this ratio is now estimated to be about 20 to 1 at best. In numerous studies, this excess omega-6 we are consuming has been linked to cancer.

Avoid products and lables that say any of the following: trans-fats, hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated. Also avoid products that list any of the unsaturated oils, as it is highly likely they have been heated (baked) and are no longer stable.

GOOD FATS

Do these two words even belong next to each other? YES! What a relief! After all of the low fat diets and the I can’t believe it’s not butter? I definitely CAN believe it’s not butter! You will be happy to know that fat is absolutely ESSENTIAL to a healthy body and healthy baby. Fats make up our cell walls, are the building blocks to our hormones, and without them, our body has no chance of functioning properly. In fact, since the low fat/no fat push came up, obesity has taken a sharp turn for the worst. When choosing dairy products, contrary to popular belief, full fat dairy options are much better for you then the low fat options. If possible, buy organic dairy to keep away from all of the hormones given to cows to produce more milk.

The best fats for cooking are coconut oil, butter, Ghee, lard, or tallow of the saturated fat family. Remember, saturated fats do not oxidize as easily as unsaturated oils.

Only use unsaturated oils for salad oils and very low temp cooking. The best unsaturated oil is olive oil. (Peanut, sesame, and flax are considered fine on a limited basis and in small amounts). When buying olive oil look for the kind in a dark glass. Remember olive oils can oxidize from sunlight so if the manufacturer does not care enough to put their product in a dark glass, it’s probably not a high quality oil to begin with. Always store your olive oil in a dark spot or cupboard to further prevent it from oxidizing.

Fish oil is not used so much for cooking and baking, but it is worth mentioning in the list of great oils and fats. Fish oil is full of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are key in the development of an infant’s brain, especially during the third trimester and the first few months after birth. Omega 3 also lowers harmful cholesterol levels and reduces inflammation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this oil is key in nourishing the yin. It is essential to brain function and mood, and helps to move the blood. All wonderful reasons to start taking a high quality fish oil.

FAT FOR HEALTH AND FERTILITY

It is amazing how far off track we have come as a society. Most people, in order to start eating these healthy fats, will have to really challenge their self-talk, the little voice in our head that says fat is bad and will make you fat. This is not the truth. Most people who are on a path to become healthier avoid fats and sugars as if they belong together. Instead, fats and sugars are almost exactly the opposite. Sugar causes a roller-coaster for blood sugar levels, while good fats actually regulate blood sugar. Fats can help to curb sugar cravings and you can even use fats when eating sugar to reduce the roller-coaster effect that sugar has. Fats are absolutely essential to a healthy body and a healthy baby. They make up our cell walls and are key in producing and regulating hormones. They are even more essential during the first part of the menstrual cycle, because they help nourish the yin, which in turn, helps to build up the uterine lining, mature healthy follicles, and balance estrogen. Fats are also crucial to having a healthy baby with healthy body and brain.

Remember that a low fat diet is not fertility friendly and also eating good fats will not make you gain weight, it actually helps stabilize weight, as long as you are reasonable with your proportions. If you eat a couple sticks of butter at a meal? Well then, in that case, you’re on your own. 😉

In summary? EAT GOOD FATS. 

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