Choosing the right fats and oils in food preparation has a dramatic impact on your health. There is a lot of information and misinformation about what constitutes healthy fats. This information simplifies the best fat options for cooking, fats that should not be heated, and which ones to avoid altogether. Take a look and draw your conclusions.
The Complete Guide to Fats and Oils : What to Cook With and What Not to Cook With
It took decades for our health communities to recognize the dangers of trans fats in margarine and other butter replacements. And only recently are the anti-inflammatory and immune benefits of coconut oil, a saturated fat, being publicized. How much longer do we have to wait for “heart-healthy” vegetable oils to be recognized for their inflammatory effects and as major contributors to modern disease?
Doing what traditional healthy disease-free societies have done for generations, like eating fats from nature’s foods, and avoiding processed fats and oils that are industrialized in factories, must be our job if we want to reduce the risk of disease. Chronicles.
Fats and oils 101
All fats and oils are made up of a combination of three main types of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated linoleic (LA) or linolenic acid. These refer to the kind of structure these fatty acids have between their carbon and hydrogen atoms.
Saturated fatty acids
The carbon chain in a saturated fatty acid is filled, or saturated, with hydrogen atoms.
This saturation creates a compact and very stable structure that resists oxidation, even at high temperatures.
Saturated fatty acids are found in animal fats and tropical oils.
Monounsaturated fatty acids
The carbon chain is missing two hydrogen atoms and has a (mono) double bond in place between two of its carbon atoms – so it is not saturated (unsaturated) by hydrogen atoms.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are not tightly packed and fold into the double bond – why these fats are liquid at room temperature and cannot be exposed to high temperatures like saturated fatty acids.
They are found in olive oil, avocados, and walnuts.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
The carbon chain is missing several hydrogen atoms and contains two or more (poly) double bonds.
PUFAs are very unstable and sensitive to heat and light that can cause free radicals that damage your body.
They are found in corn, canola, soybeans, sunflower, safflower, rice bran, and grapeseed oils.
Vegetable oils and the omega ratio
“In the MI (myocardial infarction) free days before 1920, the fats were butter and lard and they all benefited from the kind of diet they had at a time when no one had heard the word corn oil. . ”
– Dr. Dudley White
Vegetable oils may seem healthy but they are highly processed foods that require these industrial processes to extract their oils. Part of the process involves the use of toxic chemicals like hexane and bleaching agents to help extract and deodorize these oils.
Even pressure-extracted organic vegetable oils undergo tremendous treatments and are exposed to heat and therefore easily oxidize resulting in a toxic food.
A crucial factor for good health is the proper ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in the diet. (Omega 3 fatty acids are triple unsaturated linolenic fatty acids (3 double bonds), and omega 6 is a double (2 double bonds) unsaturated linoleic acid. The exponential increase in the consumption of vegetable oil in our diet (found in all processed foods) and feeding grains of livestock and poultry, has altered the healthy ideal of Omega 3 for Omega 6.
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Health problems associated with processed vegetable oils
Omega 6, polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn, canola, soy, sunflower, safflower, rice bran, and grapeseed oil, increase inflammation in the body and are associated with:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Weight gain
- Blood clots
These polyunsaturated vegetable oils – especially when heated – damage cells, metabolic function, gene expression, and hormonal functions. (Borage, evening primrose and hemp oil are the exception, although they are PUFAs they work as anti-inflammatory: They are Gamma-linolenic acids FFA). This is why the addition of fish oils and cod liver oil (omega-3) supplements are very popular in the natural health industry.
Vegetable oils, if they are not organic, are likely to be from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or also called GMOs, another important reason to avoid them.
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What about saturated fats
“The greatest scientific hoax of this century, perhaps of any other century.”
– Geroge Mann , American scientist, criticizing the hypothesis of the diet for the heart; because of the idea that high cholesterol foods cause heart disease.
The heart diet hypothesis or lipid hypothesis, first proposed by Ancel Keys , has surprisingly little evidence to support it.
Heart disease was rare in the 1900s, when our diets were much higher in animal fats. The elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood related to heart disease do not come from dietary fats, but are produced in the liver from sugars in excess of carbohydrates such as refined sugars, white flour and fructose.
What contributes to heart disease is the excessive consumption of vegetable oils , hydrogenated fats, and refined sugars in the modern diet.
Essential functions of saturated fatty acids
- Improves the immune system (needed by white blood cells)
- Necessary for strong bones (helps absorb calcium)
- Provides energy and structural integrity to cells
- Protects the liver from alcohol and other toxins
- Healthy lungs (saturated fatty acids create the surfactant that protects and coats the air spaces of the lungs)
- Building blocks for hormones
- Helps in mineral absorption and
- Cardiovascular health
- Building blocks for a healthy brain and nervous system