Fats that are good

PHOTO: Fats that are good

At 69, Dr Udo Erasmus is fit, sharp, energetic, and according to him, it's because he's consuming the right fats.

The Canadian scientist, internationally recognised for his expertise on the subject of fats, cholesterol and human health, was in Kuala Lumpur a few months ago to promote his product, Udo's Oil, on a world tour.

His message is simple: some fats heal, others will kill you; some promote cancer, while others inhibit cancer.

Treat your body carefully and approach all health issues naturally.

He highlighted five categories of oils and fats that are detrimental to the human body: oils that have been hydrogenated, fried and refined, as they are unstable and stripped of nutrition, as well as excess hard fats from animals, and sugar, which the expert deems "unnatural to the human body".

"Although sugar isn't fat, our body turns excess sugars (and starches) into the same hard fats that make platelets more sticky and interfere with insulin function and essential fatty acid functions," he explained.

His diet consists of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and occasionally, meat.

Preparation of the food matters as much as the content itself.

"Whatever you can't eat raw, steam it. Fry nothing," he asserted.

Forget grill.

"If it's brown, flush it down," he piped, citing a rhyme his friend coined to describe the damaging effects of most foods that are prepared today.

However, he doesn't encourage people to consume little or no fat at all, for these diets lead to "stunted growth in children, dry skin, low energy levels, high cholesterol and enhance the likelihood of producing a leaky gut and allergies."

What low fat?

Low fat products are a joke, he remarked.

"They often taste like cardboard. And so as to give them taste, manufacturers load them with sugar, which our body turns into the same hard (saturated) fats, the avoidance of which was the reason for making the low fat foods in the first place!"

According to his research, the human body requires essential fatty acids (EFAs) on a cellular level for optimum functioning.

"The body cannot produce them from other foods (hence the term essential), so a direct source must be found," he explained.

He points out to the advantages of organic unrefined flax, sesame and sunflower seed oils, amongst others.

The blend of raw seed oils that's meant to be drizzled over meals has a strong, raw taste that's not difficult to down and is otherwise complemented by other ingredients in dressings.

Here is what's remarkable: this fat supposedly lowers blood fats.

Salmon oil, the other well-known source of omega 3, is not included in the mixture.

"It may contain mercury," he rebutted. "At any rate, the purest nutrients come from plants."

He is familiar with chemical poisoning, having experienced a bout of it from pesticides in 1980, during his research.

It was that incident that moved him to develop his first flax seed oil, which proved to lack omega 3 and 6, leading the scientist to experience dry eyes and thin, papery skin.

"It caused me to start paying attention to the ratios of these nutrients," he said of his two initial productions.

The notion that the high fat diet that the baby boomers generation grew up on causes well-known health problems such as cardiovascular disease, elevated cholesterol, diabetes and other hazards is much discussed in his study.

Healthy fats are meant to bring about a number of health benefits, including heightened mental clarity, motor coordination, enhanced immune system function and softer skin.

Other benefits

Fitness enthusiasts will be thrilled to know that increased metabolic rates, energy, stamina and healthy weight loss are amongst the benefits to be derived from these EFAs.

Weight loss from oil consumption may seem surprising, but that's the difference between refined oils and essential fatty acids; the latter plays a role in cell membranes and helps the kidneys dump excess water held in tissues.

"I once spent some time researching nutrition in jails. White sugar, coffee, white flour, bread, pork chops - I believe that the brains of inmates could be made to function better by being fed better," he said. "Our streets would then be safer."

He is of the belief that our behaviour cannot be right if our foods are not right for our brains' biological requirements.

"Like the rest of the body, the entire brain is made from food," he said.

"A small study suggested that 90% of violent crimes are carried out when the perpetrator is suffering from low blood glucose, rendering the brain unable to discern right from wrong.

"People in depression or children with learning disabilities would benefit from improving their balance of these nutrients," he continued.

These EFAs are said to be potent enough to curb cravings and addictions to foods, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs as well as enhance fertility, since sperm formation requires fatty acids.

The benefits are endless.

For a better idea, read Dr Erasmus' books: Fats And Oils: The Complete Guide To Fats And Oils In Health And Nutrition, Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill and Choosing The Right Fats.

"With the right unrefined supplements and a better diet overall, any person can live a more fulfilling, healthier life," he concluded.