Fats can be divided into a number of different categories which require lengthy explanations. For simplicity’s sake and for the purpose of this blog, I will divide fats into ‘BAD Versus GOOD’.
The primary building blocks of fats are fatty acids. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are unsaturated fatty acids that are regarded as essential for human life and cannot be synthesised from other fatty acids.
Our early ancestors’ typical diet had an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2:1. Now,that ratio is around 25:1, tilted to the omega-6 side.
According to a new study, omega-6 fats may promote the growth of prostate cancer. Working with human prostate cancer cells in tissue cultures, researchers found that adding omega-6 fatty acids to the mix created an environment that promotes cell growth. A diet high in omega-6 also makes us vulnerable to colorectal cancer and some forms of breast cancer as well.
Omega-3 acids are essential fatty acids, and are necessary from conception onwards, throughout life. To optimise your overall health and wellbeing, you need to change your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 back in favour of omega-3.
The use of vegetable oils and margarine in the modern western diet has led to an increase in our intake of unhealthy omega-6 fats. Margarine is made from vegetable oils that have been hydrogenated. It was once promoted as the healthy alternative to butter, but modern-day diets that are high in hydrogenated vegetable oils have been implicated in causing a significant increase in heart disease and cancer.Today most adults consume a staggering amount of vegetable oil per year.
- Vegetable oil, the worst offender. This cheap trans fat is used in most processed foods(as discussed in Chapter 6 of “Well Adjusted Babies”).
- Lower quality red meats and porks (e.g. bacon, sausages).
- Lower quality processed dairy products (e.g. processed cheeses).
- Margarines(as discussed in Chapter 6, WAB).
- Vegetable oil
- Safflower, sunflower, canola and corn oils
AVOID: Using vegetable, safflower, sunflower and corn oils when cooking. When these oils are heated, antioxidants in the oils are destroyed, creating toxins more dangerous than trans fats.
Most adults have some awareness about minimising fats and go to great lengths to prioritise low fat food purchases. More and more research indicates however that these low fat options are not necessarily a healthier option and are often loaded with transfats and additional calories. I have outlined below which fods are considered important fats and in the blog “Why are Good Quality Fats Essential to Health”
GOOD HIGH QUALITY FATS:
Cold water fish
Meats and chicken(with excess fat removed)
Nuts, nut butters, nut oils
Free-range organic eggs
Organic butter, high quality cheese and yoghurt
Good quality butter
Any oil that you use needs to be cold pressed and non-hydrogenated.
- Coconut oil * – Coconut oil should be your choice of oils to cook with. Because it is nearly a completely saturated fat, it is much less susceptible to damage from high heat.
*Source organic, unrefined oil that is not genetically modified, bleached, deodorised or hydrogenated, with no chemicals added, and is made from traditional palms only (not ‘copra’, used in most coconut oils).
- Organic olive oil
Olive oil is a stable non-essential fatty acid and doesn’t break down with cooking or harm other essential EFAs found in the food. For example, if you were cooking salmon steaks, it is better to utilise olive oil or coconut oil rather than vegetable oil. Better again—simply grill the salmon.
- Macadamia, avocado, flaxseed and sesame oils (please see below for Healthy Ways to Cook With Oils).
HEALTHY WAYS TO COOK WITH OILS
I love this simplicist way of dealing wth oils. When I know which oils are best for baking versus frying and which need to be keep for dressings I relax knowing that I am using oils wisely and safely.
(Please refer to the Which Foods When Chart for age-appropriate time frames if cooking for very little people)
• Dressings: macadamia, flaxseed, safflower, olive and sesame oils.
• Baking: butter and coconut oil (non-deodorised).
• Frying: olive oil (lower temperatures), avocado and coconut oils (higher temperatures).