Good Fat

Not all fat is bad. In fact healthy fat is a necessary part of a balanced diet. 

Moderate amounts of healthy fats such as monounsaturates and polyunsaturates are necessary for the body to function well and stay healthy, but must be consumed selectively and in moderation. 

Importantly, cooking fats or oils make food taste better by improving “mouth feel” and contributing to the feeling of fullness. I believe you don't have to sacrifice taste -- or the happiness and satisfaction good food can give you -- for health. Low-fat, good-fat food can taste as good or better than unhealthy food. 

Fats or lipids are necessary for the liver, pancreas and gallbladder to function well. The liver makes bile, which is necessary to digest fat. The gallbladder delivers bile into the intestine and the pancreas makes fat-digesting enzymes.

A moderate amount of healthy fat is necessary for the body to make use of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, maintain healthy skin and hair, and regulate cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, among other things.

And, of course, the fat itself provides the ”essential” fatty acids (EFAs), which must be provided through food, as the body cannot synthesize its own and thus called “essential”. 

Linoleic (primary omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (primary omega-3 fatty acid) are essential nutrients needed by the body to work properly. 

Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids are the two types of polyunsaturated fats, which have been linked to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 helps in the reduction of inflammation and has anti-coagulant properties.

Omega-6 fatty acid play an important role in the protection of cells in the body, omega-3 fatty acids comprise a large part of the cerebral cortex (where much of the brain’s higher functions take place) and the retina (the eye’s main core of vision). Eating these fats in the right proportions is important. It’s believed that the body needs 2 to 3 times more omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids.

Sources of “good” fats

The polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) cannot be made by the body and therefore must by supplied by food such as plants (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, whole-grain products) and cold water fish (European anchovy, bluefish, herring, mackerel, salmon, sturgeon, lake trout, white albacore or bluefin tuna and lake whitefish). 

Specific sources of omega-3 fatty acids include wheat germ, canola oil, soybeans, hempseeds, and flaxseeds (the richest source of omega-3s). 

Examples of polyunsaturated fats are safflower, sunflower, soybean and corn oils.

Monounsaturated oils such as olive, canola and peanut oils are also rich in omega-9 (oleic acid) associated with lower risk of heart disease.

Sources of monounsaturated fats include peanut, canola, olive and safflower oils, nuts and seeds.

If fat is so wonderful, why all the health problems? 

The problem with the typical American diet is that we rely heavily on eating food that contains high levels of saturated fats and trans fats. Although the body needs saturated fat in lesser amounts, it can manufacture its own, so there is no need to add it to one’s diet. 

Trans fatty acids, the man-made manufactured fat and the most harmful of all fats, is not even recognized by the body as food. The enzymesAmira Elgan involved in the digestive process cannot break down trans fats so they accumulate in the body as free radicals or carcinogens. Trans fats also increase levels of bad cholesterol and decrease the good cholesterol making us more susceptible to cardiovascular disease and other illnesses.

Too much fat, even if it’s the good kind, can increase your risk of becoming overweight or obese. However, depriving the body of essential fatty acids is detrimental to human health and can result in reproductive failure, unhealthy skin, liver and kidney disorders, etc. In children, growth is stunted and developmental problems can occur, among other things. Linoleic acid is especially important for infants. 

The fact is that good fats are necessary for health, it’s all about selection and moderation. Join me next week when I’ll discuss how to reduce bad fat to improve health and lose weight. In the meantime, be mindful of what fats you choose to eat and how much. 

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Good Things In Store

“Health” food bars are extremely popular among people of all ages. But not all bars are created equally. Some are spectacularly healthy and nutritious, and others are not much more than candy bars. 

Many of them have hidden trans fats and other nasty additives that have not even been researched, so their effects on the body are unknown. 

The best and healthiest health food bar I’ve found after thoroughly checking many of them are the AllGoode Organics. They’re the perfect nutrient packed snack to bring on camping, hiking, biking or road trips. They’re made with wholesome food ingredients and are 100% organic.

There are several varieties but my favorite one is the AllGoode Organics Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip which is vegan.

My youngest son also likes the AllGoode Organics Nutty Chocolate Apricot food bar. It tastes a lot like a candy bar as it’s coated with chocolate. 



The Joy of Unplugging 

It’s a cliché to say that families don’t spend time together like they used to. But with everybody rushing around, busy with separate lives, dinnertime is the perfect opportunity to get everyone together for delicious, healthy food and warm conversation. 

Dinnertime is the ideal time to let go of a hectic day and unplug from the computer, phone and TV.

You have to eat anyway, why not do it pleasantly and in style?

Instead of eating at restaurants for special occasions where food is often overpriced, non-organic, unclean, stripped of nutrients and touched by who-knows-who, why not cook more spectacular vegetarian organic meals at home?

Instead of habitually heading for fast food joints when you’re in a hurry, where food is fatty, fried, full of toxins and carcinogens and devoid of nutrients, why not master the art of fast health-food cooking and preparation? 

Whether special occasion or no occasion, think about making dinner a nightly family ritual of harmony and happiness in your home. 

Set the table nicely, with flowers and cloth napkins. Designate your dining area as sanctuary for family enjoyment—a place that represents calmness, happiness and the good things in life. Keep the table clean and the surroundings uncluttered to make it pleasing to the eye.

It’s simple, easy and quick if every one in the family helps to prepare a nice healthy meal. Make it a family affair from beginning to end. Every member of the family contributes by preparing food, cooking, setting the table, serving water, cleaning up and doing dishes. 

Doing things together in unison, as a family is a wonderful way to bond, form good habits of cooperation, get used to always cooking your own nutritious meals, and enjoy the results of team effort. If you have children, they learn best by example, you’ll teach them the valuable lesson of learning to prepare and eat home made healthful meals.

Refrain from discussing upsetting topics at the dinner table. Use dinnertime to listen and talk with respect and enthusiasm—exchange positive thoughts and ideas. Make a point of smiling and saying kind and cheerful things.

Appreciate and enjoy the food—but more importantly, be thankful that you can enjoy it with your loving family.

Words of Wisdom

Learn to dress yourself with the robes of purity. Adorn yourself with the ornaments of virtues. Beautify yourself with actions that are generous and sublime. Deck your subtle body with the flowers of truthfulness, compassion, humility and cosmic love. Let your heart be a fountain source of bliss. Thus, you will become truly beautiful.

Swami Lalitananda


The Research Department

A recent study conducted by Psychology Professor Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University shows that people who are happy and think positively don’t catch colds as easily as people who are grumpy and grouchy. 

This was a controlled study in which a group of individuals were assessed over the course of several weeks. Researchers noted each person’s disposition, attitude and general frame of mind. The volunteers were infected with viruses then quarantined and checked to see who developed actual colds.

The results show that the people who had a positive outlook about things and were more relaxed stayed healthy for the most part while their sour counter parts got sick. The few happy people who caught colds displayed less symptoms than their corresponding uptight volunteers.

One possible explanation is believed to be that people with positive perspective get less stressed out. On the other hand, people who are more negative tend to experience higher levels of stress, which can promote a release of harmful chemicals, making the body more susceptible to the onset of illness.

Reader Feedback

Dear Amira,

I’ve been a fan of your husband for quite a while. I think he puts out one of the best newsletters; he is always upbeat and positive. Now I know why. You. I’ve forwarded your wonderful newsletter to all of my friends/relatives. And they too rave about it. Thank you so much for your inspiration and wisdom. You really make a difference.
R. L., Santa Cruz, CA

Vegetarian Organic Recipe of the Week

Click on the picture for a closer look!

Fusilli and Tofu Italiano (vegan) 
Serves 4 to 6

For a scrumptious Italian meal look no further than this quick and simple but enticing complete protein, pasta dish. To make it an elegant and fun affair, serve a salad as a first course so you get your veggies and indulge in a nice loaf of bread to go with the meal. 

Preparation time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Equipment: Food processor or blender

Get ingredients ready (use organic ingredients if possible)
Water for boiling pasta
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
6 fresh garlic cloves 
⅓ small onion 
8 fresh plum tomatoes cut in quarters
½ cup fresh basil leaves (loosely packed with no stems)
2 cups fresh firm tofu cut in ½ inch cubes
2 cups fusilli pasta
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large pot, boil water for pasta. Heat oil on a separate large pot over low heat. Meanwhile, process garlic and onions in the food processor or blender until finely chopped. Add tomatoes and basil to the garlic and onion mixture and chop until you have small tomato chunks (do not puree).

2. Add tomato mixture to oil, stir well, cover with lid and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Cook pasta in boiling water as indicated on package instructions, stirring occasionally. Set timer.

3. Add tofu to tomato mixture, toss well and stir occasionally. Keep cooking covered in low heat for about 5 minutes. 

4. When pasta is done, drain and add it to tomato and tofu mixing well. Add salt and ground pepper to taste and cook for 5 minutes covered on low heat. Serve immediately or set aside until ready to serve. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

Cook’s tip: dried pasta works best for this particular dish.


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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.

Copyright© 2003 By Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.