Author's Perspective: For years I thought that fat was bad, so I avoided it like the plague.
In fact, 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 and low-cholesterol diets during the 1970s - 1990s. Unfortunately, many of those low 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 and wild animal fats instead of conventional animal fats and processed fats.
Fat is a main component of the structure of our cells, especially the cell membranes and the nervous system. If you were to remove all fat from your body, you will die instantly.
So, don’t think about fat as a harmful substance unless you are thinking about highly processed fats. These fats cause several major health problems, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
However, fats in their natural state and consumed in moderate amounts as part of a balanced diet, are beneficial to your overall health and immune system.
Some of the health benefits of eating healthy fats include the following:
- Helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, K)
- Note: Low-fat diets reduce the absorption of these vitamins!
- Provides satiety and taste to meals
- Helps prevent blood clots
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad kind of cholesterol)
- Provides phytochemicals that act as antioxidants
- Prevents and fights cell inflammation in the body
- Provides structural integrity to all of the cells in the body
- Helps immune cells recognize and destroy dangerous pathogens
- Helps cells to send signals and communicate with other cells
In fact, eating healthy fats and oils can actually help to reverse Type 2 diabetes naturally!
The following super fats and oils help to prevent and reverse Type 2 diabetes, along with other diseases and health problems such as obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure:
- Extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil
- Extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil
- Extra virgin avocado oil
- Omega-3 EFA oils in wild salmon, nuts and seeds
- Monounsaturated fat in EVOO and avocados
- Macadamia nut oil (organic) -- occasionally
- Fat from wild game, such as bison and venison
- Raw organic butter -- occasionally
- Flaxseed oil (organic) -- occasionally
- Unprocessed cod liver oil
- (Note: Eat freshly ground flaxseed instead)
Note: Although hard to find, raw butter is actually a healthy (saturated) fat. That's raw butter -- not organic butter. Organic butter is still pasteurized. Also, unprocessed cod liver oil is healthy for you -- again, not the traditional cod liver oil such as Carlson's cod liver oil, which is heated and overly-processed, destroying its nutrients.
The following least healthy fats and oils Help to fuel many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, autoimmune diseases and thyroid disease:
- Vegetable oils (i.e. corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower)
- Canola oil
- Pasteurized butter
- Hydrogenated oils, Trans fats
- Fried foods
Various industrial chemicals and highly toxic solvents are used in the manufacture and processing of vegetable oils. These chemicals increase cell inflammation, oxidative stress and toxicity within your cells -- precursors to diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
Vegetable oils convert to seriously damaged breakdown products that have been linked to heart disease and neurological disorders. These include the fatty acid-derived toxin 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE).
Many studies have linked HNE consumption to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, liver problems and cancer.
Researchers explain that HNE's toxicity stems from the fact that it reacts extremely energetically with biomolecules once it is absorbed into the body by way of food. Also, it reacts with the various kinds of amino groups--proteins, DNA, RNA--affecting basic cellular processes.
Based on these findings, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association recommended that if a person is worried about the health aspects of HNE, they should refrain from heating any oil to the point of smoking and should never reuse the same oil when cooking at home.
One of the most important recommendations, however, 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 from 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. An excellent source of saturated fat is extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil.
There is a lot of confusion about what oils to use for cooking. One of the reasons for this is that most people assume that just because an oil is healthy in its raw form, then, that oil must be healthy for cooking. But, that's not true!
Also, all oils have different compositions and smoke points, so oils are a lot more different than you think. Each oil has a unique ratio of saturated fat (SF) to monounsaturated fat (MUFA) to polyunsaturated fat (PUFA).
This ratio determines whether the oil is a solid or a liquid, how well it can withstand high temperatures, and what effects it will have on your body.
There are 4 key factors to keep in mind when selecting an oil:
1. Check for the processing method: Choose "cold-pressed" and/or "expeller-pressed" when possible.
These terms refer to the way the oil was processed. Cold-pressed oils are pressed at low temperatures, which means they retain all the flavors, aromas, and nutrients that would otherwise be destroyed by heat. Expeller-pressing is another clean way of producing oil: It means that oil was extracted mechanically (i.e., good old-fashioned squeezing) instead of chemically.
2. Check for the oil's smoke point: Choose a higher smoke point for high-heat cooking such as deep-frying.
The smoke point is the temperature at which oils start to break down, lose nutrients, and develop off flavors. You'll know it's happening if the oil is letting off wisps of smoke.
Some oils have higher smoke points, so they're better for high-heat cooking like deep frying and searing. Other oils have low smoke points, and should probably be reserved for uses such as dressing. Each oil's smoke point is listed in the list below so that you can choose accordingly.
3. Select oils with a high MUFA content for cooking.
When you expose oils to heat and oxygen, they go through a process called oxidation. Apply enough heat, and oil forms byproducts called "cooking oil polar compounds." These compounds may be harmful to human health—preliminary research shows they could raise blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease risk.
You can curb your exposure to these compounds by cooking with oils that are composed mainly of MUFAs rather than PUFAs. Because of their chemical structure, MUFAs are less sensitive to heat and oxidation.
Examples of mostly-MUFA oils for most cooking include olive, avocado, canola, sunflower, sesame, soybean. If you need to make an exception here and there, using a PUFA-based oil for cooking every once in a while is okay.
4. Strive for balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Unfortunately, a typical Western diet includes far too much omega-6 [found in abundance in packaged foods, many refined plant oils, poultry, eggs, and some nuts and seeds] and far too little omega-3, creating an imbalance that is associated with cell inflammation.
While fatty fish and fish oils are arguably the best sources of omega-3s, you can also find them in some cooking oils. Ideally, it's best to seek out oils with a more favorable ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, like organic walnut, and flaxseed.
But, again, if you use plant-based oils with a higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio every once in a while, it's not going to be detrimental to your health.
Concerning choosing the right oil for cooking, salads, stir-fry, etc. usually 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.
The best oils for different purposes are as follows.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
77% MUFA, 9% PUFA, 14% saturated
Made from: Olives
Smoke point: 375–470ºF, depending on variety
Olive oil is the healthiest oil you can buy, as it contains the highest monounsaturate content. 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. Also, make sure that it's really extra virgin or cold-pressed.
FYI: Olive oil is primarily a monounsaturated fat (MUFA), which means it has one double bond in its fatty acid structure. Although a MUFA is inherently more stable than a polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), when too much heat is applied, MUFAs become unstable, creating oxidized oil that can do more harm than good to your body.
Note: Actually, extra virgin avocado oil provides more health benefits and has more monounsaturated fats, antioxidants (e.g. lutein, Vitamin E), beta sitosterol, and a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil.
Flaxseed Oil (Organic)
18% MUFA, 73% PUFA, 9% saturated
Made from: Flaxseed
Smoke point: Some sources say 225ºF, but don't use this for cooking.
Since the oil is more condensed than whole flaxseeds, it provides more omega-3s, but you lose the fiber and lignans. Flaxseed oil is a terrific option for individuals suffering from high blood pressure, and studies show that supplementing with flaxseed oil on a daily basis can lower blood pressure and have a cardio protective effect.
However, flaxseed oil can go rancid very quickly (even faster if you heat it), so this oil should be stored in the refrigerator and only used for low-temperature uses such as dressing salads.
23% MUFA, 63% PUFA, 9% saturated
Made from: Walnuts
Smoke point: 160–200ºF
Walnut oil is one of the few plant oils that will give you a healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
But, its high PUFA content makes it prone to rancidity, and its low smoke point means it's not great for cooking.
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 only.
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.
Sesame seed oil has a smoke point of
What Causes Oil to Get Rancid?
All oils will eventually get rancid just sitting around in your cupboard. In addition to smelling and tasting nasty, rancid oil contains harmful free radicals and shouldn’t be consumed.
The more polyunsaturated fat there is in an oil, the faster it will spoil.
For that reason, be careful with nut and seed oils because they are high in polyunsaturated fat. Buy these oils in small quantities and store them in the refrigerator.
Oils that are lower in polyunsaturated fats, such as like olive, canola, and coconut oil, are fine stored in a cool cupboard.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Choose this oil for cooking because it is nearly a completely saturated fat, which means it is much less susceptible to heat damage.
But, make sure that the coconut oil is first-pressed, organic, extra virgin,or virgin -- avoid the refined coconut oils.
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. It has a higher smoke point, making it a good choice for baking and light-heat cooking.
71% MUFA, 13% PUFA, 12% saturated
Made from: Avocados
Smoke point: 400ºF
This light-tasting oil is not only high in monounsaturated fats, but has a high smoke point so that it can also withstand some light-heat cooking.
Avocado oil is also loaded with vitamin E, which may help to strengthen our skin and immune system. However, this oil can be really expensive.
Sesame oil: Its strong flavor is used for Asian cooking, and light frying. However, be careful because this oil is high in polyunsaturates (42%), with MUFA (40%) and SF (9%).
Grapeseed oil: This oil is made from grape seeds that are discarded after wine making. It has a relatively high smoke point (390ºF). But, this oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids with basically no omega-3s.
But, more importantly, grapeseed oil can occasionally have dangerous levels of harmful compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) due to the drying process, which involves direct contact with combustion gases.
So, buy organic grapeseed oil, as this means it is produced without any chemical substances.
Note: PAHs are not unique to grapeseed oil — you can be exposed to them by eating charred foods, too.
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. But, be careful because most grapeseed oil using chemical solvents, so look for expeller-pressed.
Canola oil: After olive and sunflower oil, canola is the next highest in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. But, because rapeseed is commonly sprayed with pesticides, and since this oil is man-made, you should avoid canola oil.
Almost all canola oil grown in the US is genetically modified, so choose organic if you want to avoid GMOs. Avoid non-organic canola oil, which is also usually processed using a chemical solvent called hexane.
If you decide that you still want to use this oil, choose organic, cold-pressed, or expeller-pressed canola. Hexane is not allowed in the organic production of this oil.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Choose this oil for cooking because it is nearly a completely saturated fat, which means it is much less susceptible to heat damage.
48% MUFA, 34% PUFA, 18% saturated
Made from: Peanuts
Smoke point: 450ºF
The super high smoke point means peanut oil is a great choice for deep-frying. But, be careful -- most commercial brands are chemically processed, though expeller-pressed brands are available at specialty stores and online.
Because peanut oil can sometimes be chemically extracted, select varieties labeled "expeller-pressed", "roasted", or "toasted".
24% MUFA, 61% PUFA, 15% saturated
Made from: Soybeans. While vegetable oil blends sometimes contain oils from seeds, like canola or safflower, they're usually composed largely of soybean.
Smoke point: 450ºF
Soybean oil is inexpensive, widely available, and has a high smoke point. But, this oil is one of the worst for your health. It's always refined and it's typically found in processed foods and snack items. Plus, it's usually genetically modified, and new research shows that it may be even more harmful than sugar!
25% MUFA, 62% PUFA, 13% saturated
Made from: Corn germ (the innermost part of the grain)
Smoke point: 450ºF
Similar to soybean oil and other vegetable oils, corn oil is inexpensive, widely available, and has a high smoke point. But, this oil has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 49:1 vs. the optimal ratio of 4:1. And, since almost all corn grown in the US is genetically modified, so is the corn oil (unless you buy organic).
So, avoid soybean oil, corn oil and other vegetable oils.
When you cook with polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as canola, corn, and soybean oils), oxidized cholesterol is introduced into your system.
As the oil is heated and mixed with oxygen, it goes rancid. Rancid oil is oxidized oil and should not be consumed—it leads directly to vascular disease.
Trans fats are introduced when these oils are hydrogenated, which increases your risk of chronic diseases such as breast cancer and heart disease.
In addition, the majority of these vegetable oils are made from genetically engineered crops, and they're heavily processed on top of that. So not only are the polyunsaturated fats being oxidized, but these oils also contain GMO toxins, such as glyphosate and Bt toxin found in genetically engineered corn and soy.
Another important factor is that most vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fats and it is the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats that plays an important role in determining many illnesses. So if you are consuming large amounts of vegetable oils you will seriously distort this vital ratio and increase your risk of many degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can' t make them -- you have to get them through food.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as wild salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils.
Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function.
In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.
It is important to have the proper ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which many nutritionally oriented physicians consider to be way too high on the omega-6 side.
Diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the Death to Diabetes diet, on the other hand, have a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease or diabetes. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.
Omega-3 EFA food sources include: walnuts, free-range eggs, leafy greens, flaxseed, unprocessed cod liver oil,and fish (especially wild salmon and sardines).
Note: Be careful if you decide to take an Omega-3 supplement. Most of them are overheated and overly-processed such that the beneficial nutrients in the oil are destroyed.
Coconut oil has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels and facilitate weight loss, helping to reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Coconut oil 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.
And, because coconut oil can supply needed energy without insulin, it helps slow down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
In Type 2 diabetics, this breaks the cycle of high glucose levels, high insulin levels and insulin resistance.
Because of the problems with absorbing glucose, your metabolism slows down, your energy level drops and you gain weight.
Coconut oil can counter this effect when it is absorbed by the cells, boosting the metabolism, allowing your body to burn more fat faster.
Other health benefits of coconut oil include:
- Heart healthy
- Skin care and hair care
- Improving digestion
- Boosting immunity against infections and diseases
- Regulating thyroid gland activity
- Fighting candida
Take 2-3 tablespoons daily with or before your meals to reap these benefits.
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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