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Nutrition & Natural Health

Let's get down to the FATS of the matter

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Stay healthy with fats and oils!

The benefits of fats and oils can be confusing because of misleading information coming from public health education, mass marketing of false information from food industry corporations and a general lack of good information about how to use fats as food in cooking. In this article I will clarify some common misconceptions and give you some sound information to make healthy decisions about which ones are good, which are bad and how to use the right fats responsibly to promote good health.

The truth is that every single cell in the human body need fat. Fats and oils are found everywhere in nature, not just in our body; From seeds, grains and algae to and animals and fungi – they play a vital role in the balance and function of the entire ecosystem. For us they are vitally important for every metabolic function from energy production and metabolism to cellular reproduction and hormone regulation.

From a dietary perspective we often think of the ingredient labels of processed food products, or the oils used for cooking, baking or frying. Some fats and oils have a bad reputation and are commonly associated to weight gain, heart disease and various illnesses. Especially the saturated fats. But wait! Fats and oils are NOT all equal. It might surprise you, but many of the common messages we’ve heard about fats and oils over the past several decades are actually false. Certainly, there are harmful fats and oils, but before blanketing all fats and oils under one umbrella we must recognize the vast differences in quality, nutrient density, and the effects of processing on both digestibility and efficacy. It’s also important to realize that the massive processed food industry has a vested interest in promoting highly processed oils because certain types of oils are essential in the success of their business. They are very inexpensive preservative ingredients that maximize profitability for their packaged foods. They use clever marketing and will often try to demonize “saturated fats” and “animal fats” to influence and persuade consumers to purchase their processed foods, which are made using industrial oils that are highly processed and toxic to our body.

Fats and oils are extremely important to good health and most people do not get enough of them… the ‘GOOD FATS’ that is! The problem is that most people get too much of the harmful fats and not enough good fats. Harmful fats and oils will displace healthy oils in the body and can creat significant imbalances leading to weight gain, hormone problems, heart health issues and much more. Healthy oils on the other hand will promote weight loss, skin health, hormone balance, improve cellular repair, improve cardiovascular health and boost energy. Eating a ‘Fat Free’ diet or ‘Low Fat’ diet is also harmful as fats are very important for all metabolic functions in the body, to protect your cells and to make hormones.

Many packaged food products contain processed or refined oils from various sources. Restaurants use cooking oils and when you prepare food at home you use oils too. The grocery store shelves are lined with clear plastic bottles of vegetable oils from various sources, such as: Corn oil, Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Olive Oil, etc. You can also find hard fats like margarine, and butter, but which oils are actually good for you and which are not? Which oils are best for cooking at different temperatures and why?

Below you will find some healthy guidelines to start make healthier choices when it comes to oils and fats in your diet. It’s important to note that many oils are processed or industrially refined in different ways in order to maintain a long shelf life so they can sit on grocery store shelves for long periods of time (that’s not what nature intended). Many processing methods use harmful solvents and chemicals to extract certain qualities (like Hexane). The problem with industrial refining processes is that it can drastically alter the healthy properties of oils. Many otherwise healthy oils such as soybean, safflower and canola oils are highly refined using chemicals, bleached and deodorized (RBD) in order to maintain stability and extend shelf life. These processes significantly alters the molecular structure of the fat - making it toxic and potentially dangerous when eaten which can lead to disease and serious health problems. So it is important to know which oils are commonly processed using industrial methods that compromise quality and health attributes.

Industrial fats and oils—also called vegetable oils—came on the market with the invention of the stainless steel roller press in the 1890s. This technology allowed manufacturers to squeeze oil out of hard seeds. Prior to that time, the only plant-based oils came from oily fruits like the olive, coconut and palm fruit, and very oily seeds like flax seed and sesame seeds, which could be extracted using a slow-moving stone press.

The first seeds that manufacturers used to produce vegetable oil were cottonseeds—a waste product of the cotton industry. The manufacturer— Proctor and Gamble—used very clever marketing strategies to advertise the liquid oils for cooking and salad dressings and the industrially hardened (partially hydrogenated) shortenings (such as Crisco) for cooking and baking. They promoted the idea that their cottonseed oil products were safer and healthier than traditional fats and oils like butter, lard, tallow and coconut oil.

Soon manufacturers learned to extract oil from corn, soybeans, canola, safflower and other seeds. Today, 80 percent of all vegetable oil worldwide comes from soybeans. In Canada much of it comes from canola oil. They are the basic ingredient in cooking oils, margarine, spreads and shortenings used in the home, and in cookies, pastries, chips, bars, snack foods and commercial fried food.

Since vegetable oils contain no cholesterol (only animal foods contain cholesterol) and are very low in saturated fat, the vegetable oil industry created the false impression that foods containing cholesterol and saturated fat were bad for us, but the vegetable oils were good.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly evident that the industrial fats and oils—whether liquid or solid—cause many health problems in adults and children. Moreover, the traditional fats, especially animal fats, are critical for good health, for fertility and for having healthy children. While there are many unhealthy ingredients in the modern diet, those that have the most serious adverse effects are the industrial fats and oils.

Identifying unhealthy industrial FATS & OILS:

  • Hydrogenated oils and fats
  • Partially hydrogenated oils and fats
  • Fractionated palm kernel oil
  • Margarine, shortening, lard
  • Vegetable oil, cottonseed oil
  • Canola oil, Soybean oil: Sources for this oils are likely GMO crops, and most options are highly processed with chemicals
  • Sunflower oil, palm oil (unless identified as “non-hydrogenated or cold pressed”)
  • Cooking oils
  • Artificial whipped cream
  • Non-dairy creamers
  • Snack foods (chips, pretzels, cookies)
  • Cake frosting
  • Fried foods
  • Commercial mayonnaise & Dips
  • Commercial salad dressings
  • Commercial nut butters and spreads
  • All fast food, including pizza
  • Most restaurant food

The Good Fats

The GOOD FATS are traditional fats and oils that mankind has used for thousands of years. These are mostly saturated animal fats. Saturated fats are actually very healthy, needed for proper growth, fertility, healthy babies, cell function, hormone production and optimal function of the heart, lungs and kidneys. They also provide important vitamins A, D and K2.

  • Butter and ghee for cooking and spreading
  • Cream and whole raw milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Lard (pig fat) and bacon grease for cooking
  • Tallow (beef fat) for frying
  • Duck fat and goose fat (good sources of K2)
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Olive oil for salad dressings
  • Sesame oil (cold pressed) in small amounts
  • Flax Seed Oil (cold pressed)
  • Cod liver oil in small amounts for vitamins A and D

Top 10 Healthy Oils for cooking (Organized from high heat to low heat cooking)

Tallow: Beef tallow can be used in all types of cooking methods, but is most often used in high-temperature cooking like frying. However, you can also use beef tallow in baking or to coat your raw vegetables before roasting in the oven for an added touch of rich flavor. Amazing for deep frying your home made French fries!

Lard: Lard is an extremely versatile fat: It doesn't smoke at high temperatures, so it's perfect for high heat cooking or frying. This also means it doesn't break down and oxidize, creating harmful free radicals (the reason you don't cook with flax seed oil at high temperatures).

Coconut oil: Very unique oil that’s high in saturated fat and is linked with overall reductions in cholesterol, increasing energy, memory and promoting a healthy digestive tract. It’s great for high heat frying as it has a smoke point around 450°F. Has very little scent and also great for soups, stews, curries, baking and making popcorn! Main points: High heat frying, health benefits, multi-purpose.

Grapeseed Oil: This healthy oil has a low saturated fat level, making it good for your waistline as well as your recipes. A medium-high smoke point of about 420°F makes this a good cooking oil, but grapeseed is mostly polyunsaturated fats, which are delicate so keep it in a dark, sealed bottle to avoid oxidization when from light, air, and heat. Good source of vitamin E and oleic acid.

Extra-virgin olive oil (Parthena brand – it’s 100% extra virgin): Olive oil is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which help control cholesterol levels and have been linked with heart health. At temperatures over 400°F it can oxidize, which may not be good for your body. Main Points: Medium and low heat cooking, frying, sautéing. Drizzle it on steamed veggies or onto a nice cold salad. Beware of brands that you don’t know as labels can be deceiving.

Red palm oil (not to be confused with palm kernel oil):

Taken from the fruit of the palm, it’s high in saturated fat, which makes it a nice stable cooking oil. It also has a high ratio of “good fats,” with new research finding health benefits similar to olive oil. It contains a high content of carotenes, including lycopene, and numerous tocotrienols, highly potent forms of vitamin E. Main Points: High heat cooking, nutritious.

Avocado Oil: This oil can withstand the heat with a smoke point of about 510°F, and yet is full of healthy fats. Main Points: Multi use — for high heat cooking, sautéing, frying, baking and in salad dressings and has great health benefits.

Walnut oil: This is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and has about a medium-high smoke point. Main Points: Healthy omega-3s, can take heat up to about 320°F (unrefined) and 400°F (refined). Use for baking, sautéing at low-to-medium heat, or drizzle cold on a salad. Has a hint of walnut flavor, making it good for salads, marinades, and sautés.

Sesame seed oil: Best used for light sautéing and low-heat baking. It has a nice light flavor great for stir-fries. Linked to health benefits like lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. Main Points: Rich, nutty flavor.

Pastured Butter: Has a rich, creamy butter flavor and an excellent 1:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats. Made from the milk of pastured cattle - not confined conventional dairy operations. Great for low temperature frying/baking. Yes, butter is good for you!


Healthy Oils that are NOT for cooking

Many oils are very good for you, but break down more easily when exposed to light, heat, and air, which means they’re not as healthy for cooking. Some include the following:

Evening primrose: This oil has a high level of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but it doesn’t do well with heat. Great as a supplement for hormone balance and healthy looking skin.

Flaxseed oil: A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, but it has a smoke point of only about 225°F, so it’s not good for cooking. Stir it into dishes after heating or into salad dressings.

Hempseed oil: Full of healthy fatty acids that may reduce risk of diabetes, according to studies. Not for cooking or frying, but it`s great for dips and dressings or straight up from the spoon!

Hazelnut oil: Provides vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats. Use this delicious oil on cooked rice, quinoa, or oatmeal. Also great mixed with lemon juice over pasta, roasted veggies, or steamed greens.

Sachi Inchi oil: A nutty flavored oil which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E. This oil originates from Peru`s rainforests. Great for those homemade salad dressings or for drizzling over roasted veggies.

Wild Salmon Oil: It’s no secret that fish oil keeps inflammation down and your digestion in check. It can also impact everything from bone density to fat burning and brain power. Very high in those healthy omega 3 oils along with DHA – a special component found in very high concentrations only in wild salmon (not farmed salmon).

Cod Liver Oil:Cod liver oil is the oil extracted from the livers of Atlantic cod. It is commonly taken as a dietary supplement and is packed full of nutrients. It is one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), and it contains relatively high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D, which is what makes it so important and so different from Salmon Oil.

7 ways to get more healthy fats in your diet:

  1. Make your own salad dressings with Udo’s Oil and Parthena Olive Oil
  2. Take a high quality wild salmon or cod liver oil supplement
  3. Eat cold water fish 2-3 times per week
  4. Put ground flax seeds on your oatmeal
  5. Put more butter on everything!
  6. Fry with Lard or Tallow
  7. Put chia seeds or hemp hearts on your salads

Resources:

www.westonapricefoundation.com

Colquhoun I, Bunday S, Med Hypotheses 1981 May;7(5):673-9.

Crawford MA. Postgrad Med J 1980 Aug;56(658):557-62.

https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/know-your-fats/trans-fatty-acids-are-not-formed-by-heating-vegetable-oils/

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