By Jenni Madison
Understanding Your Oils & Fats
This can really be kept quite simple. Basically there are three types of oil they are Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated and Saturated. The difference between the three is the molecular structure of the oil. That is the length and the placement of the hydrogen atoms that make up the oil compounds. I have also mentioned Trans-Fatty-Acid’s as this is a dangerous by product of hydrogenated or rancid oils that is important for you to know about.
The structure of polyunsaturated fat is long chain. They are the most un-stable of all the oils, meaning they are very sensitive to heat and light damage. These oils are commonly found as vegetable oil and commercial cooking oils. In this form they have been hydrogenated to give them a long shelf life. This process creates trans fatty acids that are poison and highly toxic to the body. Polyunsaturated fat in its natural form includes hempseed oil, hemp seeds, chia seeds, primrose oil, borage seed oil, flax, flaxseed oil and walnuts. When consumed in their natural state these fats are an excellent source of omega three and six essential fatty acids. They are best eaten raw.
The structure of monounsaturated fat is also long chain. They are slightly more stable than polyunsaturated fats, however still very sensitive to heat and light in comparison to saturated fat. The best of these include avocados, olives, nuts (except polyunsaturated walnuts), some seeds and durian. These oils are loaded with essential omega-3 fats, vitamins, minerals and good energy. They are high in calories and more likely to add to the build up of fat so for weight management smaller amounts might be more suitable. They are best eaten raw.
Saturated fat can be found in two forms, animal or plant based. There is a remarkable difference between the two when it comes to health benefits, metabolism and digestion. Animal based saturated fat found in dairy and animal products, is made up of long chain fatty acids. It is stable and heat resistant and being long chain is converted in the body directly into fat. This type of saturated fat can be heavy on the internal organs such as the liver, kidneys and pancreas when it comes to digestion and absorption of nutrients.
The best saturated fats to include are plant based such as cold pressed coconut oil, cacao butter, and palm kernel oil. Coconut oil is unique in it’s molecular structure of medium chain fatty acids making it not only stable but also easy to digest, gentle to the inside organs, and unlike animal fat it converts directly into energy. The unique MCFA’s in coconut oil is also what gives it its powerful healing properties.
Here’s an interesting thing about coconut oil and omega-3 fats. Research findings indicate that coconut oil appears to double the body’s ability to use antioxidant, omega-3 fatty acids. Because of this, I recommend that individuals take omega-3-containg oils (flax seed, hemp seed, krill, fish oil etc.) with coconut oil.
When unsaturated vegetable fats are subjected to the process of hydrogenation, a new type of fatty acid is formed. This new type of fatty acid is called trans fatty acid. So when manufacturers began substituting partially hydrogenated vegetable oils for saturated fats in processed foods, they began adding - for the first time - relatively large amounts of trans fatty acids to the typical diet.
The problem with trans fats is that they are detrimental to cholesterol levels and cardiac health. They are also highly toxic causing free radical and skin tissue damage.
These fats are found mostly in processed foods and commercial oils. The words ‘hydrogenated oils’ also means trans fats. Food label regulations have allowed manufacturers to write ‘no trans fats’ on packaging if they claim that it has less than 0.1g. Manufacturers have then loop holed this by reducing the serving size on the packaged ingredients tables so that they read less than 0.1g. My strong recommendation to you is that you read all labels carefully and even if there is the slightest amount of trans fat in the food, avoid it. Trans fat in any amount is poison to your body.
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