Nutrition - Fats
( Originally Published 1954 )
Everybody is familiar with fats that are used as foods. Butter, oil and other fat products can be assimilated by the human body, with good or bad effects. One of the good effects of fat is to give energy to the body in the form of heat.
In cold weather and in cold climates the food supply should contain more fatty foods than in warm weather and climates. In warm weather and in warm climates, the sun gives heat to the body directly as energy. Fats can also be converted by the body economy into its own characteristic stored fatty tissues.
Fat is difficult to digest and to assimilate in the animal or human body. It is much easier for the body chemically to convert sugars and starches into heat energy or stored substance. Fat is particularly bad as a food when it is taken in excess of the body's ability to utilize or store it. The breaking down of fat by the body requires oxygen and other elements, the sources of which are best found in raw vegetable juices and salads, fruits and fruit juices.
Some people who are burdened by fat in excess of the body's need store it under the skin, around the kidneys, the liver, the heart, and the lungs. Those individuals are often short of breath and suffer from other symptoms of ill-health.
Fat, even in the best forms such as butter, cream, ice cream, oil and salad dressings, is required in small amounts by the normal healthy body. Those who are not so well require little or no fat, if they are to attain better health.
Healthy individuals who live a sedentary life, such as indoor workers, can utilize less fat than those who lead a more active and outdoor daily life.
Fats are chemically known as hydrocarbons; this means that they contain a relatively high amount of hydrogen and carbon, and a relatively low amount of oxygen, as compared to carbohydrates, the sugars and starches. In the process of digestion and assimilation, those who consume high rations of fat, in excess of the body's ability to digest and assimilate it, may suffer from such symptoms as heart burn, bitter taste, sour taste, nausea and poor appetite. Those who can digest and assimilate fat may convert it into extra body fat.
The digestibility of fat varies with the condition of the individual at a given time of eating. A person in a condition of fatigue may not be able to handle fat as well as he can other energy-forming foods such as a glass of honey-sweetened lemonade or a bunch of fresh grapes, a raw pear or a sweet apple.
Fats are harder to digest when they are cooked or used for frying. In other words, butter on bread is easier to digest than butter when cooked with vegetables. Any food that requires fat as a seasoning should be seasoned at the table-or after cooking.
During hot weather ice cream is a popular fatty food, because it is cold and sweet. How many people feel thirstier, more exhausted, and have a bad taste in the mouth after eating ice cream? Many people use fatty foods in summertime, to their discomfort.
Ice cream as a summer food may be acceptable by the body economy when it is used as a main course of a luncheon, in combination with fresh raw fruit and a raw salad. No bread or cake should be taken at the same meal time.
Sour cream, which is cultured sweet cream, is also consumed by some people in warm weather and warm climates to excess. Sour cream may be used as part of a salad dressing. In such a mixture-one cup of sour cream, one cup oil, one raw egg or two raw egg yolks, in a blender or electric mixer-it can make a very wholesome mayonnaise dressing. One or two cloves of garlic and one teaspoon of celery salt may be blended into this mixture. Such a dressing should be used in small amounts on a salad.
Ordinary fat in frying, even butter, makes the food hard to digest. Anything that is ordinarily fried would be better broiled in an electric broiler.
In summary, fats are wholesome and required by every individual who is in good health. When health is impaired, fat is not required, and it is not as easily digestible as other energy- and fat-forming foods. In cold climates and in cold weather more fat is required and it can then be tolerated better by the body economy.
The vitamin content of fats is of considerable importance. How-ever, we have not stressed this point because when the diet is well balanced, there will be no vitamin shortage.