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Good Fat vs the Bad…The Science

There is no doubt that diet plays an important role in overall health. Maintaining a balanced intake of carbohydrates, fats, and protein promotes optimal health. Diet and eating behavior are linked to the endocannabinoid system, which is a complex network of receptors that interact with cannabinoids in your body to trigger various effects. These receptors can be located anywhere, and disrupted signaling can cause problems with the regulation of physiological systems. 

A study from University of California Riverside School of Medicine explored the connections between the endocannabinoid system to the digestive system. By studying the characteristics of rats on different types of diets, they found that chronic consumption of high-fat and high-sugar diets caused elevated levels of endocannabinoids in the gut and blood. This stimulates appetite and promotes overeating, especially of fatty foods. The overconsumption of dietary fat is a significant factor in obesity, since fat is more calorie-dense than carbohydrates or protein and is found in many foods that people love eating.

However, it is important to understand the different types of fats and how they affect the body differently. While you may have heard of unsaturated and saturated fats, there are actually dozens of fats commonly found in the diet, and each one has a different effect on the body. Fats fall into two broad categories: saturated and unsaturated. They are distinguished by their molecular structure. To put things simply, fats are composed of two structures put together: a glycerol and three fatty acid chains. This forms a triglyceride. The glycerol, or the “backbone” of the molecule, consists of three carbon atoms. These carbons can bond to chains of fatty acids. The structure of the fatty acid chains distinguishes the different types of fats. 

Image Source: https://dlc.dcccd.edu/biology1-3/lipids

Saturated fats are triglycerides containing three saturated fatty acid chains. A fatty acid chain is saturated when all of its bonds are single bonds – this allows for the molecules to pack closely together, promoting stability of the molecule and its ability to form solids at room temperature. Saturated fats are commonly found in animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs) and in some vegetable fats that are liquid at room temperature. There is evidence that saturated fats could increase the risk for colon and prostate cancer, as well as raise cholesterol levels. For these reasons, saturated fats should be eaten sparingly.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are categorized by the presence of at least one double bond in their fatty acid chain structure. This leads to a kink in the chain, which prevents the triglycerides from packing together like saturated fats normally would. Unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and are commonly found in fish or in oils derived from plant sources. Good sources of unsaturated fats are avocados, olive oil, peanut butter, and coconut oil, just to name a few.

Unsaturated fats can be monounsaturated, meaning they contain only one fatty acid with a double bond, or polyunsaturated, meaning they contain multiple fatty acids with double bonds. Consuming either of these types of fats can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when eaten as a substitute for saturated fats. 

A distinguishing feature of fats is the length of their fatty acid chain, which is determined by how many carbon atoms they contain. Fats of different lengths are treated differently by the cells in your body. In Verima’s tinctures, we use fractionated coconut oil because it is a great source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). They have between 6-12 carbon atoms, as opposed to short-chain triglycerides which have fewer than 6 or long-chain triglycerides that have 13-21. MCTs are easier to burn off than long-chain triglycerides due to their length. Because they are able to broken down rapidly, they are an instant energy source and be burned for fuel very quickly without being stored as fat.

Image source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fractionated-coconut-oil

Coconut oil is already a great source of MCTs, but through the process of fractionation, the MCTs can be extracted and isolated. This results in a highly concentrated source of MCTs. Increasing MCT intake can help with weight loss by regulating other physical functions. For example, MCTs can increase the levels of certain hormones which reduce appetite and induce feelings of fullness, as well as increase the body’s ability to burn calories. Another benefit of MCTs is that they are able to be converted into ketones which can provide a source of energy for the brain and can improve brain function. In both human and animal studies, the use of MCTs has also been linked to lower cholesterol levels and lowered blood sugar levels.

Using fractionated coconut oil in our tinctures is a great way to add even more health benefits to our CBD products. Although taking MCTs is a great way to improve your health and energy levels, overall health can only be achieved when you take care of your body and do the research necessary to know what is good for you. There is no such thing as a cure-all for every condition, but understanding your goals and pinpointing specific problems to solve is a good way to start. 

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