Friday, February 22, 2013

The Skinny on Fats!

There are new findings all the time on fats and oils, and it is still a subject of controversy. There is still a large amount of unknown when it comes to whether a low fat diet is beneficial.

Fats have been the subject of misinformation and faulty research.  There have been holes in the arguments that dietary fat causes heart disease. It has been trans fatty acids, as opposed to saturated fats, that have been linked by researchers to be a factor in atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, cancer, and other assorted ailments.

Healthy fats have been associated with the reduction of cardiovascular risk factors, promoting weight loss and weight maintenance. They are important because they perform many life-supporting functions in each cell of our body.  Fats are;
  1. Part of the cell membrane and every organ and tissue
  2. Essential for our nervous system and production of certain hormones
  3. Needed for the absorption of Vitamins A,D, E and K
  4. Vital in Vitamin D absorption which is necessary for calcium be absorbed by our bones and teeth
  5. Able to keep our body cells protected from invasions by micro organisms and damage from chemicals
  6. Good source of energy
  7. Protect organs from trauma and temperature changes
Here are guidelines on what to avoid, and what to enjoy, in order to reap the benefits of healthy fats and oils!

Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. These are found in most packaged foods if you read the label carefully. The front often states “no trans fats” however through chemically induce hydrogen saturation the structure of the unsaturated oil is changed.  This alters the way the body metabolizes the fats and may be carcinogenic and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Avoid most commercially produced vegetable oils that come in clear plastic or glass bottles.  They are usually highly refined, using high heat and a chemical solvent process as well as bleaches and deodorizers to enhance shelf life. They also usually start with the most inferior nuts and seeds, and are often found in:

  • Margarines, Canola, Sunflower, Corn, Grapeseed and many Olive Oils
  • Commercial salad dressings, and prepared foods

Choose high quality unrefined polyunsaturated vegetable oils and consume in moderation.  These can be more expensive but you can use less, and the health benefits are priceless. Look for:


  •       Oils labeled “unrefined” like brands such as Omega, Flora, Spectrum and others. The are mechanically processed using cool temperatures and no chemicals
  •       Flax, Hemp, and Essential Balance oils are fantastic to pour on your vegetables, salads, etc. Try 1tsp for a serving.
  •       Extra Virgin Olive Oil form cold pressing, and use only for low temperature cooking
  •       KEY TIP: Do not allow your oil to smoke when cooking with it! If this happens, start again with fresh oil and reduce heat!

Cook with stable fats such as:

  • Butter, coconut oil or organic palm oil
  • Try Sautéing with ½ butter and ½ extra olive oil

Make your own salad dressing by blending:

  •       ½ cup unrefined oil (your choice of kind)
  •       ½ cup raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  •       Your favourite herbs and spices such as basil, oregano, pepper
  •       Add mustard or honey
  •       Shake well, and store in glass bottle for up to 4 weeks in the fridge

Buy oils in glass dark glass containers and avoid large, plastic, and light coloured oils. The more oil is exposed to heat, light and air, the faster it will turn rancid and enter your body as a free radical. 

Quality fats are an essential part of a healthy diet and by using the guidelines above you will have no trouble navigating right past the bad fats, and on to enjoying the good stuff! 

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