Author's Perspective: The fat phobia is very powerful. Most of us have been taught or told that fat is bad. So, for years, I avoided adding fat to my meals.
But, after I did some research and discovered the health benefits of plant oils such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, I became more comfortable with adding fat to my meals.
Gradually, I learned to accept that fat was good and that I needed to eat fat on purpose! :-)
Extra virgin olive oil is a super fat because it provides anti-inflammatory and glucose stabilization benefits, both of which are beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes.
In addition, extra virgin olive oil is a super fat because it contains phytonutrients called polyphenols, which are well-known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
The anti-inflammatory strength of olive oil rests on its polyphenols. These anti-inflammatory compounds contain several well-researched anti-inflammatory nutrients, including the following:
- Anthocyanidins (cyanidins, peonidins)
- Flavones (apigenin, luteolin)
- Flavonols (quercetin; kaempferol)
- Flavonoid glycosides (rutin)
- Lignans (pinoresinol)
These anti-inflammatory nutrients help to decrease inflammation markers, such as homocysteine, C-reactive protein (CRP), TNF-alpha, interleukin 1-beta, thromboxane B2, and leukotriene B4.
This provides health benefits to people with systemic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Heart disease reduction has been identified in numerous studies of the Mediterranean Diet, which uses olive oil. This reduction in heart disease is due to a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and an increase in the HDL:LDL ratio; and a decrease in blood pressure.
Olive oil contains heart-healthy fat in the form of oleic acid, a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid that provides most of these benefits.
Other benefits of EVOO include:
- Anti-clotting benefits
- Cancer prevention
- Digestive health benefits
- Improved cognitive function
Warning: Be careful! A lot of olive oil is not extra virgin! Make sure it's cold-pressed, unfiltered, looks cloudy and is stored in a dark glass bottle.
In order to reap the maximum benefits of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), do not cook this oil! Heating the oil causes oxidation of the polyphenols in along with acrylamide formation at cooking temperatures in the 300°F/148°C range.
Instead, use EVOO in its raw form with foods such as steamed vegetables, raw salads and green smoothies.
If you have to cook with olive oil, be careful not to burn the oil -- use it with meals that don't require a lot of heat such as a stir fry.
Here are some ways to use EVOO (taken from the DTD Cookbook):
- Mix extra virgin olive oil with organic apple cider vinegar to make your own salad dressing.
- Note: Avoid most bottled salad dressings because they contain high levels of sodium, soybean oil, HFCS, and color dyes.
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over sautéd or steamed vegetables before serving.
- Purée minced garlic, cooked cauliflower and extra virgin olive oil together to make delicious and healthy "mashed potatoes".
- Purée extra virgin olive oil, garlic and your favorite beans together in a food processor to serve as a dip.
- Mix extra virgin olive oil with raw organic butter or extra virgin coconut oil to place on top of steamed vegetables.
Note: Actually, extra virgin avocado oil has more monounsaturated fats, antioxidants (e.g. lutein, Vitamin E), beta sitosterol, and a higher smoke point than extra virginolive oil.
Warning: Beware of scams where they use hazelnut oil or soybean oil, and add enough beta carotene to give it a more mellow, rich, full-bodied flavor. Then, they add a touch of industrial-grade chlorophyll to give it that lovely greenish tint characteristic of first cold-pressed oil from green olives.
Note: For more information about where to buy the best super foods such as extra virgin olive oil, get the DTD Nutritional Supplements and Super Foods Brand Names ebook.
Similar to EVOO, extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO) is a super fat because it also provides anti-inflammatory and glucose stabilization benefits, both of which are beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes.
As a super fat, extra virgin coconut oil provides many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, heart-healthy and diabetic-friendly.
About 50 percent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat called lauric acid. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-protozoa properties.
Lauric acid is a powerful virus and gram-negative bacteria destroyer, and coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on Earth.
Coconut oil is about two-thirds medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. These types of fatty acids produce many health benefits.
MCFAs are sent directly to your liver, where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. MCFAs help stimulate your body's metabolism, leading to weight loss.
Your body sends medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) directly to your liver to use as energy. This makes coconut oil a powerful energy source for your body.
This is very beneficial to diabetics, who rely on eating simple carbohydrates for their primary energy source.
Coconut oil added to the diets of diabetics and pre-diabetics has actually been shown to help stabilize weight gain, which can dramatically decrease your likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Other health benefits of coconut oil include:
- Heart healthy
- Skin care and hair care
- Improving digestion
- Boosting immunity against infections and diseases
- Fighting candida
As previously mentioned, the super fat in coconut oil has a number of beneficial properties that make it ideal for reversing the effects of type 2 diabetes.
Coconut oil's unique molecular structure allows it to act like glucose to feed your body on the cellular level, boosting your metabolism and powering up you immune system with its healing properties.
Its ability to improve blood circulation and reduce numbness and neuropathy make it ideal for those who suffer from the effects of type 2 diabetes.
Five of the key benefits of coconut oil for diabetics are:
- Coconut oil doesn't require insulin
- Coconut oil boosts metabolism
- Coconut oil regulates blood sugar
- Coconut oil lowers glycemic index
- Coconut oil helps circulation and neuropathy
1. Coconut Oil Doesn't Require Insulin
Normally, when you eat something, your digestive system breaks it down and converts it to glucose. The glucose enters your bloodstream, which triggers your pancreas to make insulin. Insulin attaches to a cell and then helps bring glucose into the cell, where it is used as energy.
With diabetics, the insulin cannot attach to the cells, and the cells are unable to pull in the glucose and use it for energy.
What's so great about coconut oil is that it does not need insulin to be absorbed by the cells and to be used as energy. Your body can use the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil in much the same way as it can use glucose, but it doesn’t require insulin to do it. This allows the pancreas to rest, allowing it to heal, and in some cases, recover the ability to make insulin.
2. Coconut Oil Boosts Metabolism
Because of the problems with absorbing glucose, a common problem with type 2 diabetes is lower energy levels and weight gain. Without the glucose to power your cells, your metabolism slows down and your energy level drops.
Coconut oil can counter this effect because of the way that it is used by the body. As coconut oil is absorbed by the cells, it boosts the metabolism, allowing your body to burn more fat faster.It also helps to regulate the acitvity of the thyroid gland.
Coconut oil also slows your digestion and allows you to feel fuller for longer. Because coconut oil can be used so quickly by the cells, it creates a burst of energy, which then increases metabolism and your energy levels, and aids in weight loss.
Several research studies have been done on metabolism and coconut oil, and studies showed decreased body fat in rats and in humans.
3. Coconut Oil Regulates Blood Sugar
If your body is unable to control blood sugar levels, many complications can arise, including obesity, constant hunger, food cravings, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia and diabetic shock. This can lead to loss of consciousness, which can be life-threatening.
Because coconut oil can supply needed energy without insulin, it helps slow down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Coconut has a low glycemic index and helps prevent blood sugar fluctuations. This balances the amount of sugar that enters the bloodstream with the amount of insulin produced, helping reverse insulin resistance and improve glucose control.
Taking 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil can lower blood sugar levels that are 80-100 points above normal within an hour, reducing cravings and improving energy levels.
4. Coconut Oil Lowers Glycemic Index
Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index (GI) of 35 so it is a useful tool in reducing the GI for other foods.
And, when coconut flour is added to foods, including those high in starch and sugar, it lowers the glycemic index of those foods.
This was clearly demonstrated by T. P. Trinidad and colleagues in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2003. In their study, both normal and diabetic subjects were given a variety of foods to eat. These included muesli bars, carrot cake, and brownies—all foods that a diabetic normally limits because of their high sugar and starch content. It was found that as the coconut flour content of the foods increased, the blood sugar response of the diabetic and non-diabetic subjects became nearly identical.
In other words, coconut flour moderated the release of sugar into the bloodstream so that there was no spike in blood glucose levels.
5. Coconut Oil Aids Blood Circulation and Neuropathy
Good circulation is critical for diabetics, especially if you are experiencing numbness in your feet. Many diabetics get infections or cuts on their feet and don’t realize until it is too late.
If this happens, serious complications can arise. Coconut oil is very beneficial for improving blood circulation and preventing or even reversing problems with lack of feeling in the feet and legs.
Eating 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil daily can reduce or even reverse poor circulation and return feeling to the affected area in as little as ten days. Eating coconut oil every day can also help reduce or eliminate diabetic neuropathy or nerve pain and tingling that occurs in the extremities.
Note: There are many other health benefits associated with coconut oil. These benefits are strictly focused on Type 2 diabetes.
How to Use Coconut Oil with Meals
Here are some ways to use extra virgin coconut oil (taken from the DTD Cookbook):
- Use coconut oil as the base oil to coat the pan when cooking eggs, stir frys and other pan-cooked dishes
- Use coconut oil as a substitute for butter in most baking recipes.
- Use coconut oil to replace margarine and vegetable oils in most cases.
- Use for baking, stir-frys.
- Add to a smoothie
- Use to season cast iron skillets
- Mix extra virgin olive oil with raw organic butter or extra virgin coconut oil to place on top of steamed vegetables.
Make sure that you purchase extra virgin or cold-pressed coconut oil; and, avoid the refined coconut oils. These refined oils have been heated, bleached and overly-processed and contain hydrogenated oils (trans fats).
Many of the experts in the fields of medicine and nutrition believed that fat was bad for us. That led to all of the low-fat, no-fat and low-cholesterol diets of the 1970s - 1990s.
Unfortunately, many of those low fat and no fat diets of the past 30-40 years actually made us fatter, and created the diabetes epidemic of today!
As most experts finally discovered, the human body requires fat in order for us to be healthy. The key is to eat the right types of fats, e.g. plant oils instead of vegetable oils, processed fats (trans fats), and animal fats.
Fat is a main component of cell membranes and the nervous system, so, most low-fat diets are not healthy. If you were to remove all fat from your body, you would die instantly. So, don’t think about fat as a harmful substance unless you are thinking about highly processed fats.
Fats in their natural state and consumed in moderate amounts as part of a balanced diet is beneficial to our health and immune system.
However, many of the fats that are part of our life today cause several major health problems, including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and diabetes.
The healthiest oils, especially for people with diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, include the following:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Extra virgin coconut oil
- Omega-3 EFA oils in wild salmon, nuts, and seeds
- Macadamia nut oil (organic) -- occasionally
- Flaxseed oil (organic) -- occasionally (Eat freshly ground flaxseed instead)
- Raw butter -- occasionally, better than organic butter
- Unprocessed cod liver oil
The unhealthy oils and fats include the following:
- Vegetable oils (i.e. corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil)
- Canola oil
- Processed butter
- Fried foods
- Animal fats (not organic)
Note: Vegetable oils convert to harmful chemicals that have been linked to heart disease and neurological disorders. Many studies have linked these harmful chemicals to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, liver problems and cancer.
One of the most important recommendations, mentioned in the DTD Cookbook, would be to avoid eating fried foods at restaurants, as there are no industry-wide rules that govern the choice and maintenance of cooking oils used in restaurants.
Note: Concerning saturated fat in animals, the best saturated fat comes from animals in the wild or animals raised without antibiotics and growth hormones, e.g. free-range chickens, deer, bison, organic beef.
The best fats and oils for cooking are as follows:
Monounsaturated fats: The best fats are those high in heart-healthy monounsaturates and other important nutrients such as oleic acids and omega-3 fatty acids, e.g extra virgin olive oil.
Polyunsaturated fats: These oils provide essential fatty acids called linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Examples of oils high in polyunsaturated fat include sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn, grapeseed, hemp, flaxseed, and walnut.
Vegetable oils: However, you should avoid vegetable oils, even though they may contain some beneficial fatty acids. Vegetable oils are oils that have been extracted from various seeds. The most common include rapeseed (canola oil), soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut, etc.
Unlike coconut oil or olive oil that can be extracted by pressing, these oils have to be extracted in very unnatural chemically-induced ways.
Unlike traditional fats (butter, lard, olive oil, etc.) vegetable oils are a relatively new addition to the “food” world. In fact, they were practically non-existent until the early 1900s. But with the invention of certain chemical processes and a need for “cheap” fat substitutions, the world of fat hasn’t been the same since.
Consider that at the turn of the 20th century that amount of vegetable oils consumed was practically zero. Today the average consumption is 70 lbs a year per person. During that time, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cancer increased dramatically. Coincidence? I don't think so ...
And, despite the fact that heart disease, diabetes and cancer continue to rise at an alarming rate with vegetable oil consumption at an all-time high, people are still believing the hype and buying this non-healthy food-like product.
Concerning linoleic acid, most of us already get plenty of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that’s widespread in processed foods made with soybean and corn oils. But, we don’t get enough ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in flax, walnut, and hemp oils that may help lower the risk of heart disease.
Some cooking oils are also good sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells from the harmful effects of unstable oxygen molecules (free radicals). Best oils for vitamin E content include grapeseed oil, almond oil, and avocado oil.
But you can't use the healthiest oils for every purpose. Choosing the right healthy oil often depends on its smoke point, the stage at which heated fat begins to emit smoke and acrid, flavor-altering odors.
Generally speaking, the higher an oil's smoke point, the better it is for high-heat cooking.
Here are the best oils for different purposes:
For Dressings and Drizzling
Extra virgin olive oil: Olive oil is the healthiest oil you can buy, as it contains the highest level of monounsaturated fats. Extra-virgin is the oil that results from the first cold pressing of the olives. Being the purest olive oil, it's also the most expensive. But because it has a low smoke point, it should not be used for cooking.
Virgin olive oil: This oil is also excellent for salads, dressings and drizzling.
Note: Mixing ev olive oil with organic apple cider vinegar produces a very nice light and healthy salad dressing.
Virgin olive oil: This is also the result of the first pressing of the olives, but it is more acidic and the flavor is less robust. Always choose cold-pressed. Most mass-produced varieties are extracted with chemical solvents. Use for cooking foods at low and medium temperatures.
Safflower oil: Choose the high-oleic version of this light, neutral-flavored oil. It's high in monounsaturates and has a high smoke point.
Grapeseed oil: Has a high smoke point of 475 degrees.
For High-Heat Cooking
Light olive oil: "Light" refers to the oil's color and taste, not its calorie content. It has the same amount of beneficial monounsaturated fat as regular olive oil has. Because of an extremely fine filtration process, it has little of the olive oil taste and fragrance and a higher smoke point, making it a good choice for baking and high-heat cooking. It's usually a combination of refined virgin olive oils.
Peanut oil: An all-purpose oil that's high in monounsaturated fats, peanut oil is also about 30 percent polyunsaturated fats and 20 percent saturated. Because it has a high smoke point, it's prized for frying. Most commercial brands are chemically processed, though expeller-pressed brands are available at specialty stores and online. Peanut oil has a longer shelf life than other oils.
Sesame oil: Although this oil is high in polyunsaturates, its strong flavor means a little goes a long way. For Asian cooking, it's a must. Choose dark for seasoning and light for frying.
Avocado oil: This light-tasting oil is not only high in monounsaturated fats, but can also withstand high-heat cooking.
Grapeseed oil: Although grapeseed oil is high in mono- and polyunsaturates, it has a high smoke point and is often used as a substitute for olive oil.
Sunflower oil: This mild-flavored oil is high in vitamin E. As with safflower oil, look for the high-oleic version, since it is 80 percent monounsaturated and has a high smoke point.
Canola oil: After olive and sunflower oil, canola is the next highest in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Because rapeseed is commonly sprayed with pesticides, be sure to look for organic, expeller-pressed brands of canola oil. But, since this oil is man-made and may contain trans fats and carcinogens, you should avoid this oil.
Nuts & Seeds
Nut & seed oils: Especially high in healthy monounsaturated fats are macadamia, hazelnut, hemp, and almond oil -- the latter can even be used for high-heat cooking.
Although walnut oil and flaxseed oil are both high in polyunsaturates, they have a beneficial additive: They contain omega-3s, the same healthful fatty acids that are found in fish oils.
Because nut oils have a distinctive nutty flavor, you may want to mix it 3 parts ev olive oil and one part nut oil.
Now that you realize the health benefits of plant oils and other fats, make sure that quality fats are part of your nutritional program.
If you're diabetic and want to make sure that you're using fats the right way in your diet, then, get the ex-diabetic engineer's Death to Diabetes book or his 3-in-1 Diabetes Cookbook (which includes a 90-day meal planner).
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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