Fats & Oils
Good, Bad, & Confusing
To the point!
Fats & oils, a health topic that is very conflicting, confusing, and as with many health related issues, has many elements of the seven deadly sins. Hopefully, this bit of information will help you to make better-informed choices about the foods you eat that have fats & oils in them.
Polyunsaturated (oils), contrary to some expert opinion, are considered bad by many experts because they are prone to oxidation and free radical production. Processed polyunsaturated oils are extremely pro-inflammatory because of their high reactivity to heat and light.
Soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, safflower oil and other similar oils, have a lot of polyunsaturated fats. These are in almost all the baked goods (breads, crackers, chips, cookies, cakes, etc.) that we buy off the supermarket shelves. It seems we are always stoking the inflammation fire in our bodies! As a side note, white or processed flour and sugar are very proinflammarory as well, so we are being exposed to a triple whammy!
It is this inflammatory production that causes or is related to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and other degenerative diseases.
* A confusing but important distinction is polyunsaturated fat sources that are not processed (whole foods like nuts and seeds) are okay, and you need these foods in your diet.
Most vegetable oils that are used in cooking are heavily refined during processing and this makes them pro-inflammatory even before you cook with them.
Saturated fats are now becoming considered the healthiest oils to cook with by some experts. Old science and new science supports this recommendation as they are much more stable and less inflammatory than polyunsaturated oils.
The order of stability of fat when exposed to heat and light from the least stable to the most stable is as follows: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated.
Tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil (even animal fats such as butter) are best for cooking. They have very little polyunsaturated fat and are mostly composed of natural saturated fats. These are least reactive to heat and light and, therefore, the least pro-inflammatory in your body after cooking.
Many professionals feel that saturated fats are bad for you, however, according to other expert opinion; the reality is they are actually neutral in most instances.
The best cooking or baking fats are generally butter or tropical oils such as palm oil or coconut oil. Olive oil is okay for lower cooking temperatures since it’s mostly monosaturated. This makes it moderately stable. The mostly polyunsaturated oils such as soybean, grape seed, cottonseed, safflower, etc., are the least healthy for cooking or baking.
Look for the bad oils in the list of ingredients in the foods you buy in the store (i.e. breads, cookies & crackers) and avoid them.
Top choices for healthy cooking oils include: Virgin coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, (only low temp cooking), and real butter (grass fed if possible). One expert shared that extra-virgin olive oil was not as good as once thought because it had chlorophyll in it which went bad sooner making the oil rancid (free radicals).
*Bear in mind that even too much of a good thing can be bad as well. Moderation is the key. Too much of anything is going to make you fat and unhealthy. As a matter of fact, some experts believe that over consumption is one of our main problems. From observation and personal experience, I tend to agree. Your body converts carbohydrates and protein into fat when in excess in the diet, and we all have a tendency to over eat.
Open attached link: The Truth About Saturated Fats. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2002/08/17/saturated-fat1.aspx
Words to the wise, however, do not use this information as an excuse to go animal with your diet, pun intended. There’s plenty of sound evidence that whole food, plant based diets are far healthier for you. It does; however, seem to leave a little wiggle room for animal fats. Oils are oils, however, whether animal or plant based and you can get plant-based saturated fats without animals. Plants are more likely to have higher levels of polyunsaturated fats whereas animal fats are higher in saturated and monounsaturated fat. This isn’t a rule, though. For instance, olive oil and canola oil are mostly monounsaturated fat, and coconut and palm oils are mostly saturated fat. As long as the fat is from a natural source and is not cooked or refined it is fairly healthy.
Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are all considered macronutrients. All three are sources of energy. Proteins and carbs can, however, be converted to and stored as fat when consumed in excess. If you eat more food in general, than you need, your body will become a fat hoarder. That means, in effect, that you are unable to part with your obsession to eat.
A few interesting excerpts from The Truth About Saturated Fats:
One reason that polyunsaturates cause so many health problems is that they tend to become oxidized or rancid when subjected to heat, oxygen, and moisture, as in cooking and processing. Rancid oils are characterized by free radicals, that is, single atoms or clusters with an unpaired electron in an outer orbit. These compounds are extremely reactive chemically.
They have been characterized as “marauders” in the body for they attack cell membranes and red blood cells and cause damage in DNA/RNA strands, thus triggering mutations in tissue, blood vessels and skin. Free radical damage to the skin causes wrinkles and premature aging; free radical damage to the tissues and organs sets the stage for tumors; free radical damage in the blood vessels initiates the buildup of plaque.
Extraction: Oils naturally occurring in fruits, nuts and seeds must first be extracted. In the old days this extraction was achieved by slow-moving stone presses. But oils processed in large factories are obtained by crushing the oil-bearing seeds and heating them to 230 degrees.
The oil is then squeezed out at pressures from 10 to 20 tons per inch, thereby generating more heat. During this process the oils are exposed to damaging light and oxygen. In order to extract the last 10% or so of the oil from crushed seeds, processors treat the pulp with one of a number of solvents, usually hexane. The solvent is then boiled off, although up to 100 parts per million may remain in the oil. Such solvents themselves are toxic and also retain the toxic pesticides adhering to seeds and grains before processing begins.
Elevated triglycerides in the blood have been positively linked to proneness to heart disease, but these triglycerides do not come directly from dietary fats; they are made in the liver from any excess sugars that have not been used for energy. The source of these excess sugars is any food containing carbohydrates, particularly refined sugar and white flour. (Think About It !)
The Worst Cooking Oils of All Polyunsaturated fats are the absolute WORST oils to use when cooking because these omega-6-rich oils are highly susceptible to heat damage.
This category includes common vegetable oils such as: Corn, Soy, Safflower, Sunflower, Canola
Damaged omega-6 fats are disastrous to your health, and are responsible for far more health problems than saturated fats ever were.
Trans fat is the artery-clogging, highly damaged omega-6 polyunsaturated fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened into margarine or shortening.
I strongly recommend never using margarine or shortening when cooking. I guarantee you you’re already getting far too much of this damaging fat if you consume any kind of processed foods, whether it be potato chips, pre-made cookies, or microwave dinners…
Trans fat is the most consumed type of fat in the US, despite the fact that there is no safe level of trans fat consumption, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.
Trans fat raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels while lowering your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you want. In fact, trans fats — as opposed to saturated fats — have been repeatedly linked to heart disease. They can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.
Pure Virgin Coconut Oil is the most resistant to heating damage, but also a great source of medium chained triglycerides and lauric acid.
So, cleaning these oils out of your kitchen cupboard is definitely recommended if you value your health.
The emerging medical consensus is that many of our modern day illness(s), as we traverse through our lives, are related to chronic low-grade inflammation of our systems, leading ultimately and indubitably, sooner or later, to a myriad of illnesses that health science calls degenerative diseases. Inflammation, free radical damage and oxidative stress lead to disease, and are implicated in cancer, heart disease, strokes, MS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis, fibromyalgia, premature aging and almost any debilitating, degenerative condition you can name.
The sad irony is that many times these illnesses are avoidable, yet, for some reason we continue lifestyle choices that are unhealthy, in spite of the evidence to our detriment!
One reason for the above puzzling behavior on our part might be that we have been conditioned (duped) into believing that check-ups and visits to the doctor for treatment are the main pathways to health. Healthcare and health insurance are harmonious discords, better known as an oxymoron. Health care is actually illness care, and health insurance is illness insurance. It’s wonderful that we have good healthcare, but the reality is that our healthcare system is woefully inept at effectively treating degenerative diseases.
Much of our mind-set, both individuals and the healthcare system, is what I call the Redliner Mentality. We’ve all heard of hitting the redline when it comes to running an engine too hard, whereby if it continues it will become severely damaged. Well, that’s our “healthcare” mentality. We’ve also all heard the story of the patient who just had a health physical, passed with flying colors and died the next day of a heart attack, stroke, or was diagnosed with cancer a short time later, etc. That’s because our screening process for illness and disease, for the most part, only picks up on illness and disease when it is present or has redlined. Many diseases are insidious and only become apparent after redlining. In other words, most degenerative diseases develop by means of slow degradation until you finally present with the full-blown disease or an event such as a heart attack or stroke. In most instances, once the signs and symptoms of cancer are present, you have cancer! You can’t depend on seeing the doctor!
Another reason we fail to stay healthy is we believe in the system without question. The way our social system communicates and processes information to the public is thought to be straightforward and transparent; it’s not. Given just this topic, fats & oils, the data remains complicated and confusing.
There’s a multitude of things that contribute to chronic inflammation. Food is a primary source and one that we have the ability to have a great deal of control over. Cooking oils are some of the primary suspects and a good place to start making positive changes to your diet.
So, in fact, to better ensure your health, you must stop being only a dependent, passive recipient of treatment and become a responsible, proactive steward of your own health as well as your family’s health!
In closing, with respect to the “seven deadly sins” comment; one must always remain vigilant, critically thinking about the data you are given, with respect to your health. That goes for this information I just put forth to you as well. The entities and conglomerates that influence what you are told about what you consume, even in the name of good, can and will pursue the profit margin over your well-being.