The word “fat” throws off a lot of people. But not all fats are bad.
In fact, if your brain is to continue running clearly, and your memory is to remain intact, you need essential fatty acids (EFAs) in your diet.
People who don’t have enough EFA’s in their foods eventually start to complain of Brain Fog. The key is to be able to distinguish the ‘good fats’ from the ‘bad fats’.
Which Are the Bad Fats?
There are ‘saturated’ and there are ‘unsaturated’ fats. It’s saturated fats that have given ‘fat’ a bad name. Saturated fats come from animal products like: red meat – beef, pork, lamb, lard; and dairy products like: milk, cheese, butter. People who eat a lot of this in their diet run a high risk of developing coronary heart disease, cancer, hormonal problems, and inflammation in the body. You don’t have to avoid these foods completely, but you need to lower your consumption of them, and to seek out products, preferably from animals that are free-range or pasture raised.
Why are Essential Fatty Acids or EFA’s Important in Our Diet?
Essential fatty acids in our diet are vital for the uptake of the thyroid gland. Wild fish from the seas as opposed to farmed fish are one good source of fatty acids. It’s best to get the ocean variety if you can. I have been avoiding ‘tuna’ for years because of the mercury contamination. Now we have to avoid ‘farmed fish’ if we want the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids (the good fat). Only ocean fish have Omega-3 fatty acids in their bodies because they feed on algae in the sea.
Trans Fatty Acids – the Deadliest of All Fats
Trans fatty acids are so bad that they are dangerous to your health. You find them used in fast food restaurants, in junk foods, packaged bakery products, deep-fried foods, and processed foods. They are bad because they have been put through a process called hydrogenation to prolong their shelf life.
When we eat these refined oils, the body doesn’t know what to do with them, because they are synthetic or artificial and unknown in the natural world. Our bodies only know how to process naturally occurring fats which includes saturated animal fats. The body can process them. But the problem occurs when the body meets something it doesn’t recognize that is not naturally occurring. It is programmed to store anything it is unsure of. So, it stores these fats. It does not eliminate them like it can do with natural fats. Where does it store them? Along artery walls, and in fat cells. Could that be why we have an obesity epidemic? Could that be why we are developing degenerative diseases like cancer, arthritis and coronary disease at rates unheard of in the history of humankind?
Familiar favorite foods that contain these deadly fats are: potato chips, French fries, baby biscuits, breakfast cereals, cookies, microwave popcorn, and of course, margarine.
Which are the Good Fats?
There are three kinds of good fats: omega 3’s, omega 6’s and omega 9’s. Omega 3’s and omega 6’s are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), because the body cannot make them. We must get them from foods or food supplements. The important thing is to maintain a maximum of 4 parts Omega 6 to 1 part Omega 3. A 4:1 balance is better – moving to a 1:1 ideal.
The Standard American Diet with an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 20:1 tends to be deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, when compared to the diet our ancestors ate, which laid down our body’s expectations.
Omega 9’s are manufactured by the body and are less problematic. They are also found in: flaxseed, olives, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts and fresh coconut.
Best Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids: walnuts, flax seed, chia seed and fish or fish oil (from unfarmed fish).
Omega 6 EFA’s come from: soy, safflower, sunflower, corn, flax, hemp, pumpkin, peanut, canola, borage, evening primrose oil and even cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil. Most soy, sunflower, corn and canola products are not recognized by the body, because of the modifications that have been made to them. Canola is genetically modified rape seed which is unfit for human consumption. One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg.
There are good Omega 6’s and bad ones. Every cell in the body needs omega 6 to control cell metabolism, the problem occurs when there is too much omega 6 in the diet. If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that trigger inflammation. Inflammation is the beginning of the disease process. And we don’t need to go down that road.
To help select foods that have less omega 6 and more omega 3 in them, download this guide
– Omega 3 and 6 in Oils, Fats, Nuts, Seeds, Meats and Seafoods
How to Tell the Difference Between the Good and the Bad Omega 6 Oils
The Good Oils always contain Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA). The Bad Oils are highly refined and contain no GLA.
The richest sources of GLA are: Hemp Oil – 2-4% GLA; Evening Primrose Oil 8-10% GLA; Echium Oil – 12-18% GLA; and Borage Oil – 20-24% GLA. Every woman should include GLA containing oils as part of her diet to improve overall hormone balance, protect her breasts and to contribute to vaginal lubrication.
The highly refined bad oils are the ones that are cheapest and easiest to buy: corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower and sunflower oils.
The healthy oils are: pure cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, flax, hemp, pumpkin, borage, evening primrose. As long as they are not heated above their smoking point. See below.
Note: Cold pressed safflower or sunflower oils are not recommended because they do not contain any GLA.
What is the best way to get your EFA’s?
Butter and coconut oil are the easiest sources for us to get our EFAs. Contrary to what we were told in the past 40 yeas, we now know that they do not clog the arteries with plaque, or cause heart disease. They are good for the body. But cold pressed, organic, virgin coconut oil is the one you must look for. Never buy coconut oil that has been hydrogenated.
Butter is also a rich source of Vitamins A & E and selenium. These protect from free-radical damage of the tissues and artery walls. Butter from free-range, grass-fed cows is high in linoleic acid, which allows safe weight loss and regulation of metabolic processing in the body
1 cup High Quality essential fatty acid (EFA) oil – eg. flaxseed oil, Udo’s Oil, MCT oil, any organic, cold pressed oil
Cut butter into small chunks and add to your food processor.
Add the oil.
Blend until smooth. Spoon into a glass jar. Refrigerate.
You’ll find this keeps the butter soft and increases it’s nutritional value.
Note: Do not cook with this butter. Heat destroys the good EFA’s. Use this as your table butter.
I leave you with these recommendations as a guide for healthier food choices.
- Don’t eat margarine – even if it’s not hydrogenated
- Don’t fry your foods
- Don’t use Canola oil – it comes from genetically modified rapeseed
- Don’t use peanut oil because it’s heavily processed
- Don’t use lard & shortening.
- Do use coconut butter instead of processed and refined shortenings
- Do use the heavier, cold pressed olive oil, especially if you are frying.
Note: Avoid extra-light olive oil – the extra processing removes all the good fats.
- Do saute foods on low heat. Even better, steam them.
- Do use clarified butter or ghee, sesame oil or coconut oil
- Do make your own salad dressings using cold-pressed oils from: flaxseed, hempseed, walnuts, pumpkin or macadamia nuts.
- Read the labels on the foods you buy.
Recent research out in the field of Nutrigenomics – which tells us how food affects the expression of our genes – is changing the way we look at cooking oils. Guess what, extra virgin olive oil has been downgraded.
How Does “Nutrigenomics” Figure in This?
From this research it was found, that the information that programs our genes comes from messages sent out from the lipid-bilayer of our cells, that’s the fat layer around our cells.
So when things are going wrong in the body, it’s the cell membrane, made up of the fat we eat, that signals to the genes that: “We need a change of program here”.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Declared a Hazard to Health
Up to now, extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, from the first cold press, was the cooking oil of choice. But now, we find that when we cook with this healthy oil, when it reaches its smoking point (320 degrees F), it turns rancid. That’s right! The oil is healthy up until we start to cook with it. So you can use it on salads, and in sauces, as long as you don’t heat it. But when you heat it above its smoking point, it turns into a trans-fat. And that’s bad news!
We already knew to avoid margarine. And vegetable oils are extremely processed, containing high levels of Omega-6 fats, which create a state of inflammation within our cells. Now we know that cell membranes are sensitive to the rancidity of oils that we may be cooking with. And since our cell membranes are made up of the EFAs we eat, that sets up conditions that can lead to chronic disease.
So What Are the Best Oils to Cook With?
Considering that the ideal temperature for frying is 356 degrees F, these oils are your best bets.
1. Coconut oil – because it has a very high break down point – or a high smoking point of 450 degrees F
2. Ghee – Organic Clarified Butter – which has a high smoking point of 485 degrees F
3. A Heavier Olive oil – which has gone through several cold presses. That means it’s a much more stable fat, which doesn’t break down as fast as the early, cold-pressed Extra-Virgin Olive oil.
Note: You may be thinking that there are other mild-tasting oils that have high smoking points, like canola, cottonseed, corn, palm, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower. But most of these are now GMO products, which is another aspect of these oils we need to be aware of.
The Battle to Stay Informed
So what else do we not know about the foods we eat, that is killing us? It’s a constant battle to stay informed. And we must never give up!
Stay tuned. As soon as the research comes out, you’ll know about it.
Information is power. That power in your hands, will keep you healthy. Act on it, now.
The Road to Perfect Health: Balance Your Gut, Heal Your Body A Modern Guide to Curing Chronic Disease – Brenda Watson