THE GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY: Fats & Oils
The myth that fats & oils are fattening is partially incorrect. You have been learning about the importance of eating foods in their natural unrefined state and the same principle should be applied to fats and oils. Comparing a piece of raw corn to refined corn oil is like trying to compare a raw apple to sugar-added pasteurized apple juice. Did you know that it takes about 40 ears of corn to make only a few ounces of corn oil which is then heated? That proves how concentrated even 1 Tbsp of oil is and why it is not as easily absorbed as eating an ear of corn, which has only a fraction of oil in comparison. Our body wasn’t designed to consume heated and refined oils in large amounts. Raw, unrefined oils and raw foods naturally rich in fat (avocados) are easily absorbed and don’t stick to our colon and arteries.
Raw fats in their natural state and cold-pressed oils do not pack on excess fat, rather they are essential to assist the body with cleansing out the stored acidic fats. Think about this…you have to eat healthy fats in order to lose weight naturally and maintain your weight long term. This is true! Health conscious people that I know who understand the value of “good” fats aren’t afraid of them and eat them freely while remaining slim and trim. Same goes for me. I kept a food journal for a week once and realized in the end that I was consuming over 80 grams of healthy fats per day, which is well over 150% of the RDA. Meanwhile I felt energetic, lean and my digestive system cleansed regularly.
What I am trying to convey is that fat does not necessarily equal fat internally. Someone eating 80 grams of fat per day of cooked saturated animal fat and cooked refined vegetable oil will not have the same result. It is the same principle as the calorie…100 calories of Oreo cookies affects the body completely different than 100 calories of raw chocolate. All of the previously learned principles apply to our fat discussion today. Good fats, as you will notice are generally alkaline, nutrient rich, functional, high energy, etc. while the bad fats are generally acidic, empty nutrients, dysfunctional and low or negative energy foods.
Let’s explore the specifics of which fats to eat and avoid and the role they play in your body…
- What separates good fats from bad fats?
- Raw fats and digestion
- Good fats and oils & how they affect weight balance
- · Myth: Fats make you fat. Just the opposite: Good fats help you lose weight and gain energy.
Yes, fat is important!
Fats are needed for their high-energy value and are the main form in which energy is stored in the body. A certain amount of fat is absolutely necessary in our diet. “Good” fats are important for the proper functioning of your entire body. Fats are crucial for lubricating our joints; are anti-inflammatory; are important for the immune system; balances our hormones (guys and gals); lend to hair, skin, and nail health, the digestive tract, cleansing of stored fats, neurological function, focus, brain power, and ultimately are crucial on the cellular level because every cell needs fats to function properly. Fats are critical for the bodies’ nervous system. Of course, fats are important for insulation. The body would freeze to death without them. Women could not have babies without fat. So, as you can see, fats are critical for human life.
Fatty acids are the building blocks of fat. Essential fatty acids are external fats that our body does not produce, so we must consume them daily for the optimal balance of fat. So, what you must understand at this point is that a certain amount of fat is necessary in the diet because they provide our bodies with an adequate supply of essential fatty acids, and allow fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E & K) to be efficiently absorbed in the intestines.
Good and Bad fats explained…
The “bad” fats are simply the varieties of fats and oils that should either be eliminated from the diet or at least minimized as much as possible. They don’t really serve much of a purpose and are not essential to our health and existence. If anything, the unhealthy fats that we will discuss cause more harm and acidity than anything.
#1 Bad Fats – Hydrogenated Oils: I am sure you have heard about the bad trans-fats and hydrogenation process. Here is why they are considered the worst oils… Hydrogenated oil is a saturated fat, and is the most dangerous fat you can ingest into your body. It is an unnatural oil imposter, usually extracted from soybean, cottonseed, palm, coconut, or other liquid oils. The oil begins as an unsaturated vegetable oil, extracted from plants, liquid at room temperature, and is then converted into solid, saturated shortening. The oil is then heated and processed to the point where its chemical structure has been altered to a Frankenstein like mutation. When oil is hydrogenated, its fatty acids are converted to the trans form, thus the term, Trans-fat. So, essentially, hydrogenated oil is a type of Trans-fatty acid. Trans-fatty acids can attach to your good cells in the body, mutate them, and over time possibly create disease and disorders. Trans-fat is the leading cause of bad cholesterol (LDL), which is the leading cause of heart disease, which is the leading killer of humans.
Hydrogenated oil and trans-fats can be found in commonly consumed highly processed foods including margarine, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, french fries, and white bread.
#2 Bad Fats – Saturated Fats: Not all saturated fats are equal, there are actually healthy types of saturated fats but for now let’s talk about the unhealthy ones… Long Chain Saturated fats are the culprits. “Long Chain” is the culprit behind unhealthy saturated fats. They are the reason saturated fats have such a bad reputation. When LCSF’s are consumed, they are directed to the small intestine where toxic fat cells are produced. These acidic fats flow throughout the veins and arteries creating storage and blockage.
These have been proven to raise “bad” LDL blood cholesterol levels, contributing to heart disease. These “bad” fats are extremely concentrated, a key to obesity, carry many toxins, and are difficult to break down. They are found most commonly in animal and dairy products. They are highest in beef, pork, chicken and dairy products. Other sources are palm oil and cottonseed oil – all oils used extensively in processed foods. Saturated fats such as butter or margarine are solid or semi-solid at room temperature and should be omitted from your diet as much as possible.
It does not take a nutritionist to realize why heart disease is the number one killer of Americans since animal and dairy products most likely make up over half of the average American’s food intake.
#1 Good Fats: The best and ideal form of fat is of course in its raw natural state. Foods such as avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and even acai berries have been designed by nature to provide the most absorbable form of good fats. The reason that fats found within raw foods are the most absorbable is because the food also has fiber and water content which help to transport the fats to the rest of the body. Plus, the food is rich in enzymes which will aid in digestion of the natural occurring fat, preventing it from being stored as acidic fat that adds to your waistline.
There is no natural occurring oil, except through some form of extraction. Flaxseeds don’t simply “bleed” out their oil content. The oil must be pressed out and extracted. What I want to convey is that oils, no matter how nutritious, should be consumed in moderation. If you are going to eat oil or take flaxseed oil, primrose oil, hempseed oil, cocout oil, fish oil, or any others, make sure it is raw, cold-pressed, and organic. Cold-pressed means the oil has not been cooked, so the enzymes and nutrients have not been killed. The only oils I cook with, which have high smoking points, are coconut, grape seed, macadamia nut, and avocado oil. All other oils are best used in their raw, cold-pressed state, such as olive oil.
#2 Good Fats – Omega-3 EFA’s (polyunsaturated): Experts agree that the typical western diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids because most people do not eat enough omega-3-rich foods. One of the most beneficial actions you can do to help prevent disease and other health problems is to increase your intake of the omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are high in two essential fatty acids: DHA and EPA. Fish oil is higher in DHA and EPA than any other food. Omega-3 is also found in flaxseeds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, coconut oil, and dark green leafy vegetables, among many other foods.
#3 Good Fat – Medium Chain and Short Chain Saturated Fats (MCSF & SCSF) – Although we do need a certain amount of saturated fats in our diet, they should only come from “Medium and Short Chain” saturated fats, such as cold-pressed coconut oil. What makes these saturated fats so vital to health is their ability to be absorbed directly by the liver, where they are immediately available to the body and are sent out as a pure source of energy. These types of fatty acids are unlikely to cause obesity due to their quick digestion and energy conversion, never having the opportunity to be stored as body fat.
Coconut oil is the new butter! Yes it is true that Coconut oil is a type of saturated fat, however, as mentioned above coconut oil is a medium chain saturated fat and in its raw cold-pressed state belongs to the healthy variety while animal saturated fats are the harmful ones. You can’t get fat on raw cold-pressed coconut oil. Your body does not store coconut oil instead it burns it as fuel, cleanses out the bad stored fats and helps your skin radiate. Not to mention it tastes delicious – very buttery & a perfect replacement for butter!
Key functions of Coconut Oil…
- The coconut is highly nutritious and has fed and nourished people around the world for generations. It is classified as a “functional food” because of its numerous health benefits and nutritional content. Coconut oil is a combination of short- and medium-chain saturated fats. Nearly 50% of the fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid. Lauric acid helps the body to fight against bacteria, yeast, fungi, and other viruses and immune disorders. Lauric acid also increases the metabolic rate, aiding in weight loss.
- Coconut oil has been long used for its healing properties in traditional medicine among the Asian and Pacific populations. They consider it as a cure for all illness. Modern medicine has finally caught up to and confirmed the wide range of health benefits. Some such benefits include: anit-viral, -fungal, and –bacterial; improves endurance, energy, digestion, bowel function, immune system function, cholesterol, free radical protection, thyroid function, loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate, the prevention of obesity and related problems, skin and hair health, and many more.
- Coconut Oil is a stable cooking oil, with a smoking point above 400 degrees – meaning that you can heat it up to 400 degrees without it losing it’s nutrients or changing chemically. Therefore, it is one of my favorites along with macadamia nut oil for cooking. Coconut oil tastes great in deserts, stir fry’s, breads, melted on hot grains, on popcorn and used in the place of butter.
Now You Know!
The good news is that we can take advantage of our diet to correct this imbalance of unhealthy cholesterol and toxic fat storage. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (Omega 3, 6 and 9), mostly found in plants, and are not linked to increasing cholesterol and when consumed raw and cold-pressed should not increase the waist line.
Fats and oils can be healing or harmful. Use what I have presented today to make wise choices about which foods and oils you consume. Energy and weight management are directly affected by the good and bad fats. I encourage you to eat and cook with the fats and oils I have recommended. Moderation is the key. On your path towards just good energy, minimizing and eliminating the harmful fats (hydrogenated, saturated, cholesterol), while replacing them with healthful fats (Omega 3, 6 and 9), will change your life.
Congratulations on coming so far with these lifestyle lessons! The last two lessons coming up are applying what you have learned to better understand how to plan your meals and substitute with healthier food and beverage choices. As a bonus I am leaving you with a 14 day sample menu that incorporates everything you have learned into this new high energy lifestyle of eating.