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Choosing Good Fats Over Bad Fats

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.

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In my last article I introduced the idea of the importance of fats and oils as essential to the performance of cellular membranes and for their providing caloric energy as fats provide 9 grams of energy potential in comparison to 4 grams of energy potential provided by protein and carbohydrates.  Both become essential and provide different needs for our bodies to function optimally.

Fats and oils can oxidize.  This means they become rancid, spoil, and then become unusable by our bodies.  Not only do they become unusable, they become a product our liver has to detoxify.  Detoxification requires many  essential nutrients to accomplish its elimination, so ingesting the wrong kinds of fats taxes the activities of our livers to get rid of them.

So what fats do we choose?  We now recognize the importance of fats in our diet to support cellular activity and especially brain health.  In the saturated fat category, coconut oil and palm oils stand on top of the list.  Coconut oil contains lauric acid.  This ingredient helps the body to fight harmful microorganisms.  Coconut oil comes from plants, a more natural product easily recognized by the human body.  If we remember our ancestry that relied on gathering plants as part of their diet rendered from the wild, we can see that natural plant products become more easily recognized by our current human bodies and are able to accomplish natural remedies.

There is much research that condemns the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) as it is high in saturated fats, trans fats, and inundated with additives and flavorings proven to be harmful to human health.  Our lifestyles and our frame of mind to want “quick fixes” has tainted us to choose foods marketed to us as easy but in the long run they are not supportive of human health.

Processed saturated fats hold a different molecular configuration from natural saturated fats as suggested above with coconut and palm oil.  Processed fats undergo high heat processing that alters their molecular structure rendering them a “trans fat” – a harmful fat to the human body.

So again, what oils do I choose?

Our Standard American Diet is lacking in Omega 3 oils.  We get these from fish and fish oils.  Omega 3 oils are essential to our health and must be in balance with Omega 6 oils – oils we receive in abundance in our relatively normal diets high in meat foods.  We need to be ingesting more fish each week to bring this into balance.  The best fish choices are salmon, sardines, mackerel,, herring, and cod.  These fish products provide essential fatty acids important for the production of other essential enzymes needed for digestive function and for supporting brain health and organ health.

I have learned in the course of my study to be wary of canola oil.  This oil is manufactured from rapeseed.  Rapeseed is genetically modified.  Who knows what has been infiltrated into this seed—mostly herbicides/pesticides, etc – an unknown.  So I avoid canola oil at this point until further research is completed.

The best oils at the present time to use:  cold pressed olive oil for salad dressings and low heat stir frying, coconut oil for higher heat stir frying and flavoring.  When it comes to general “oil”—toss your corn oil and your vegetable oils—mostly they are already rancid.  We must buy our oils in dark bottles, small amounts we can use within a month or two.  Use seed and nut oils that have a pressing date or state they are high oleic processed.  These are best and safest for health.  Do not fry foods.  Heating oils spoils them.  I have learned to sauté my stir fry foods first in organic broth—adding more broth as the onions and veggies cook, then at the end adding the oils for flavor.  This saves destroying my cooking oils with the higher heat by preserving their benefits as flavor in my stir-fry veggies and meats as more normal to their natural form.

Next week I will share with you some ideas about how to properly cook with oils to receive the maximum benefits from these vital and essential parts of our dietary needs.

Krystle Shapiro is a licensed massage therapist and is completing her masters degree in holistic nutrition.  She can be reached at 208/290-6760.

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