Saturated fat was once widely believed to be harmful. However, recent research suggests that, in moderation, saturated fats may not be so bad for your heart. Furthermore, substituting the improper foods for saturated fats, such as refined carbs found in white bread, white rice, pastries, candies, and desserts, may be bad for your heart and waistline.
The type of fat is important, not how much you eat. A two facts most are unaware of regarding fats.
Fact a) Fatty acids are the building blocks of every cell membrane in your body, and there are a LOT of these cells, many millions and millions.
Fact b) Our brain is composed of a 60 percent fat. Bearing this in mind, it is very important therefore to understand that the fats you consume therefore strongly influence not only your level of brain function, but your entire health. An interesting book I read several years ago is called The Paleolithic Prescription. This was probably the first book written in the late 80s to outline what we today call the “Paleo Diet”. Nutritional expert anthropologist author Melvin Konner Ph.D. mentions that the human brain probably would not have developed as it did without access to high levels of the type of fat found in fish and wild game. Just two generations of high omega-6 and low omega-3 fat can lead to profound changes in brain size and function.
Here are some quick links that will take you to different pages of interest:
Fats and oils are one of the three major classes of basic food substances, the others being protein and carbohydrate. Fats and oils are a major source of energy for the body. This class of food substances aids considerably in making both natural and prepared foods more palatable by improving both their texture and flavour. The fast food industry knows this very well, as sugar, salt and fats are the three key components of any take-away food. How can you have deep-fried or oven baked french fries for example without salt? A true marriage made in heaven.
I must admit, learning about fats can confuse because there is some biochemistry involved, but it need not be difficult to understand. When you go to the supermarket, you’re confronted with advertisements telling you that this or that product is “99% fat free”, but what they don’t tell you is how loaded these foods can be with sugars. The emphasis today is on “fat free”, and many people still believe that “fat is bad”, and the eating fat “makes you fat”.
While some fats (like partially hydrogenated oils and deep fried saturated oils) are potentially bad for you, the healthy fats form an important part of a healthy diet. Your body will function much better when you consume the right oils and fats and avoid the crappy stuff. There will be less inflammation, better brain function (mood and cognition) and you’ll even age slower. Research has revealed that healthy Omega 3 and 6 fats create healthy brain aging.
To make sense of the various oils & fats, I’ve compiled the following list of definitions for you.
We find these in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream and fatty meats. We also find them in some tropical plants and vegetable oils such as coconut, palm and palm kernel. Saturated fats are not as “dangerous” as you think. In fact, coconut oil is quite healthy and consumed for many years by those living in the Pacific. Coconut oil is an excellent oil to use for cooking since it is far less likely to be damaged through heating. It can take a much higher temperature than most other oils without being damaged and causing your health concerns. Many people still believe that “animal fats cause heart attacks”. This is a common fallacy which has persisted since the 1950s and has even turned people away from consuming eggs. Here are four reasons saturated fats are good for your health:
Don’t eat saturated fat, you’ll die of heart disease! It’s what scientists for decades constantly blasted us with, in fact, until only recently. It is a lie that animal fats “cause heart disease” and is a myth which has perpetuated since the 1950s. I still remember many years ago that I recommended my patients to try coconut oil and cream in their diet, but was informed by a medical doctor at the health centre I worked in to “not be so foolish as to recommend any food high in saturated fats to any patients with heart disease”. I soon left that practice. They replaced me with a dietician who recommended white bread, jello, plenty of cow’s milk for calcium, and sugar-free soda drinks as part of a “healthy” diet.
Many cultures around the world have existed for generations on a diet rich in saturated animal fats. Here are just a few of the world’s many indigenous cultures which eat a diet rich in saturated animal fats.The interesting thing about these indigenous cultures is that they carry very little body fat, have great muscle tone and in addition have exceptional cardiovascular fitness.
But wait a minute- they eat plenty of fat? I didn’t say that they drink plenty of alcohol, eat lots of refined carbs like ice cream and white bread, they don’t eat at McDonalds or Wendy’s either. They’d probably end up being sick or in hospital.
These are the bad guys of processed foods. These fats form when vegetable oil is made to harden with a process called “hydrogenation”, and can raise bad cholesterol (cholesterols, and lower good cholesterol (HDL) levels, which of course is the exact opposite of what you need in order to maintain good heart health. The consumption of food containing trans-fat (as opposed to saturated fats) is known to increase the risk of heart disease by raising levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), and lowering levels of HDL (good cholesterol).
Food manufacturers made them to prolong the shelf life of processed food. Some companies point the finger at naturally saturated fats as being the villain. Fast food supplier McDonald’s announced in New Zealand (2006) that it changed its cooking oil, resulting in a blend that is “virtually” trans fat free. These fatty acids can cause major clogging of your arteries, as well as potentially causing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems. Here are several reasons trans-fats are not so good for you:
Hydrogenation is bombarding an oil’s fat molecules with hydrogen atoms, making it more dense and raising its melting point, so that the oil becomes solid at room temperature. An unfortunate side effect of this the creation of trans-fatty acids. Partially hydrogenated oil means that the hydrogenation process stopped short of a full solid, reaching a more creamy, semi-soft, butter like consistency. This is the story of margarine. Cis and trans are terms that refer to the arrangement of chains of carbon atoms in a fat molecule. Hydrogenation turns a cis into trans. (no pun intended)
The best overall oil is olive oil. The “king” of monounsaturated fats is olive oil is and is probably the crowning glory of the Mediterranean Diet. This oil has a lovely aroma and taste. It is a natural juice which preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins and properties of the olive fruit. Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that is freshly pressed from the fruit. We can consume it as it is, personally I consume at least one tablespoon each day of the “extra-virgin”. It took me a few years to enjoy olive oil on my foods and in my diet. Unless from the Mediterranean region, most people are not accustomed to pouring oil on their food. Start with small amounts and build up. You can buy different grades, be sure to purchase the extra virgin. Spend a little more and but the BEST quality. Other healthy oils in the mono-unsaturated category are sesame oil and sunflower oil.
Like olive oil, canola oil is also in mono-unsaturated category. I advise avoiding it, use olive oil instead. You can get organic sources, but I have my reservations about canola oil. Olive oil comes from olives, peanut oil from peanuts, sunflower oil from sunflowers; and canola oil come from canolas? Yeah right.
If you search online, you’ll find plenty of official canola sites raving about canola’s its low-fat health benefits. Canola is not the name of a natural plant but a made-up word, from the words “Canada” and “oil”. Canola is a genetically engineered plant developed in Canada from the rapeseed plant, which is part of the mustard family of plants.
Most rapeseed varieties available in the United States are genetically modified (GM) to be pest-resistant. Farmers intensively managed oilseed crops to maximize their yields, and this means heavy pesticide usage. Is it any wonder our poor bees are dying? Are you going to buy an oil that is potentially contaminated with pesticide or weedicide residues? Pre-harvest spraying of weed killers is considered “best practice” amongst rapeseed oil farmers. None of this oil for me, I’ll stick with olive oil.
Here is a handy page to download,it’s a PDF. Keep it handy in your kitchen because it contains a list of fats and oils and their best applications of use. I’ve given them a grading according to research I’ve done over many years. Download your complimentary Cooking with Fats and Oils chart here. It contains my recommendations for the best and worst oils and fats in your diet.
Here is a list of the different fats and oils, their uses and Eric’s personal rating. Buy only fats and oils that are certified as organic. Buy only cold-pressed oils. Do not buy oils in clear glass or plastic bottles (light destroys oils through oxidation). All fats and oils, including fish oils, should taste and smell “fresh”. If they do not, dispose of them. Rancid fats and oils are extremely toxic and may severely interfere with normal fatty acid metabolism.
Eric’s rating – the more stars the better the oil.
Fats are possibly the most concentrated form of food energy you can have in your diet, contributing about 9 cal/g (38 joules/g), as compared to about 4 cal/g (17 joules/g) for proteins and carbohydrates. When you consume a meal containing fats, you feel more satisfied and the meal satisfies the appetite more than when eating a meal based solely on carbohydrates or protein. Fats or the addition of oils will make a meal more satisfying by creating a feeling of fullness, delaying blood sugar “spiking” and delaying the onset of hunger.
A few misconceptions about fats are that “eating fat will make your fat” and that “fats are highly indigestible”. In fact, many cultures around the world have with 94–98% of the ingested fat being absorbed from the intestinal tract.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids, primarily linoleic and arachidonic, are essential nutrients; that is, they are not synthesised by the body but are required for tissue development. Absence of these fatty acids from the diet results in an essential fatty acid syndrome and in a specific form of eczema in infants. Vegetable oils are an excellent source of linoleic acid, while meat fats provide arachidonic acid in small but significant amounts. Fats and oils are carriers of the oil-soluble vitamins A and D, and are the main source of vitamin E. They also have a sparing action on some of the B complex vitamins.
Issues with taste and smell may develop after deodorisation of a product to complete blandness. The flavour is generally characteristic of the oil source and is therefore usually acceptable. However, soybean oil can develop disagreeable flavours described as stale, grassy, painty, fishy, or like watermelon rind.
Beef fat can become tallowy, which is also objectionable. Reversion is apparently caused by changes in substances which have been oxidised prior to, but not removed by, deodorisation. My advice? if an oil smells or tastes funny – get rid of it! It’s as simple as that folks, use common sense. Throw it into the trash and get fresh oil, look at the manufacturing date.
Rancidity is a serious flavour defect and highly objectionable. It starts with the formation of hydroperoxides which then decompose to form aldehydes which have a pungent, disagreeable flavour and odour. Slowing down oxidation is brought about by using opaque, airtight containers, or fill the bottles right to the top and store in a dark cool place if clear glass bottles are used. Antioxidants (like vitamin E) are required in meat fats, since lard, tallow, and so on contain no natural anti-oxidant material. Vegetable oils contain tocopherols.
results from the liberation of free fatty acids by the reaction of fats and oils with water. While most fats show no detectable off flavours, coconut and other lauric acid oils develop a soapy flavor, and butter develops the strong characteristic odour of butyric acid – it can really stink! Packaged coconut-oil products and lauric-type hard butters sometimes contain added lecithin, which acts as a moisture scavenger, thereby retarding hydrolytic rancidity development. If you want to avoid rancidity, make sure you don’t mix oils or fats with water UNTIL you use them, store them away from light and heat and use a lot of common sense.
We all love fries. I do, and I’ll bet you like them too, with plenty of salt and your favourite sauce. Salt and fat just seem to form this magic combination, have you noticed? But unfortunately, fats and oils used in deep fat frying can break down under adverse conditions, especially where frying is intermittent or the fryer capacity is not fully used. Deep fried foods may taste great, but believe me – they aren’t that great for your health! If you must deep fry, it can be quite expensive as I recommend that you change the oil very frequently. The more you heat up an oil, the more you break down the bonds of the oil and the more saturated it becomes – and the more destructive it can be to your heart and arteries. Oils which are damaged more likely to cause oxidative stress inside your body, a leading cause of chronic disease. The worst oils to use in your deep-fryer are canola oil, and those “blended” vegetable oils. While there are no “best” oils to use, I’d stick with rice bran oil.
Deterioration ultimately results in the oil becoming very dark in colour, viscous, foul-odoured, and foaming badly during frying. The oil becomes oxidised and then polymerised, requiring that it be discarded, since it imparts strong off flavours to the fried food. If the food tastes not so nice after deep-frying, throw the old oil out!
EFAs (Essential fatty Acids) are classified into families according to their molecular structure. The families go by the names omega-3 and omega-6. For optimal health, we should be eating a proper balance of these fatty acids. But we don’t, and in fact, we haven’t been doing a good job at this for a hundred years or more, which may partly explain why we have so much heart disease and other chronic illnesses that were not common in earlier times.
Over the years, we have been consuming increasing amounts of foods that have much more omega-6 content. This imbalance is the result of a steep rise in the use of certain vegetable oils such as canola, corn, safflower, and sunflower oil. These oils tend to be much high in omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3s. Safflower has a ratio of 77 parts omega 6 to to 1 part of omega 3.
Contributing to the imbalance as well is a typically high intake of processed foods and margarine, foods which are loaded with omega-6 EFAs. A study conducted in Japan in 1997 revealed an unparalleled rise in heart disease, depression, allergies, and autoimmune conditions since Western-type food (high in omega-6s) became popular.
Experts say that the overall ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in today’s Western diet ranges from 20 parts to 1 part right through to 3 parts to 1 part, instead of an evolutionary ratio of 1 or 2n parts to 1 part. This dietary shift has created an alarming imbalance that researchers believe may contribute to inflammation, blood clot formation, and blood vessel constriction. A balanced ratio of essential fatty acids in the diet is essential for normal growth and development.
Because the typical Western diet contains far too much omega-6 and its major component of linoleic acid, supplementation of omega-6 is not usually required. But omega-3 is an entirely different story. Many physicians are now recommending omega-3 supplements to their patients, and we have been recommending omega 3 as fish oil, which is high in the beneficial eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) EFAs.
Both the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids belong to a group of polyunsaturated fats called ‘essential’ because they are necessary to life and to health, yet we cannot make them in the body – we must get them from our diet. Like all fats, EFAs provide energy. Their calorie value is like other fats and oils but, unlike saturated fats, they have important health roles. In fact, as their name suggests, they are essential and consumed regularly as the body has limited storage for them.
We cannot convert them from other fats and both must be present in the diet in a proper balance for good health.Their difference lies in their chemical structure and their roles in the body. Basically, the omega-3s have anti-inflammatory benefits and help prevent heart disease, whereas omega-6s lower blood cholesterol and support the skin.Traditionally, our diets maximised nutrition while modern diets minimise nutrition. Is it any wonder people are getting sicker? Traditional diets had higher levels of the essential fatty acids omega-3 than we consume today, and the ratio used to be 1 part omega 3 to about two parts omega 6. In America and many other countries around the world today, this ratio is estimated to be more in the region of 1 to 20 and some experts even say that we consume up to fifty times more omega 6 than omega 3. Fish, chickens, and eggs are also sources of omega-3 fats because they eat plants that contain these fatty acids. Therefore, non-caged chickens that eat green plants or algae are reliable sources.
Here follows quite an impressive list of health benefits, but you should also know omega 3 fish oil isn’t a “miracle cure” that helps you to get rid of all kinds of conditions in an instant. Omega 3 fish oil should be used for preventative measures and as a long-term initiative to keep a healthy body and mind. No natural medicine “cures” the body, but assists in the healing process.
Many people consume an insufficient amount of omega-3, a fat essential to good health but only found in fish oil and a few other foods like venison (deer meat), walnuts, free-range eggs. Some claim that flaxseed contains sufficient amounts of Omega3, but this is a disputed claim. The tiny amounts you receive are not really worth consuming flaxseed just to increase your Omega 3 intake. Do you buy Krill oil? Maybe you have been told that it is a ‘superior’ choice instead of Omega 3? read Krill Oil.
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