FATS - THE GOOD AND THE BAD

Updated: May 13, 2021

When I was in high school I remember that we had a chip shop just across from our bus stop where we had to change busses in the afternoon. They had the BEST tasting chips (fries) ever. We would run across the road to get a dollar or two of chips while waiting for our next bus in the afternoon. One day my friend remarked to me that they used lard to fry the chips in and that was really bad for you. A few years later all the take away food shops were advertising that they were using healthier vegetable oils for their cooking. It was the 90s.




The consumption of vegetable (seed) oils in our diets has increased exponentially in the last 30 years. In the 80s, the low fat movement touted the seed oils as heart healthy and so called healthy alternatives to butter and lard like margarine and hydrogenated vegetable fat were sold as the answer to problems of high cholesterol. We were told to replace butter in our baking with healthier polyunsaturated canola and soybean oil in an effort to reduce the amount cardiovascular disease and heart attack. The result? The incidence of cardiovascular disease kept climbing, the rates of diabetes kept soaring and the population kept getting more and more unhealthy and overweight.


Vegetable oils, also sometimes referred to as seed oils, might sound like a healthy alternative, the truth is that they are more than likely contributing to inflammation in the body. Not only are they often extracted with chemical solvents, but many vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids. This is an issue because scientists have hypothesized that eating too much omega-6 can lead to increased inflammation in the body. We know that chronic inflammation is attributed to the development of a whole host of chronic diseases: everything from heart disease and cancer to diabetes and arthritis is linked back to inflammation in the body. Vegetable oils are also a source of unsaturated fats, which, when heated, have a tendency to oxidise. Oxidized unsaturated fats can also potentially trigger inflammation.


SKIP THE SEED OILS

Vegetable oils are refined and highly processed, which means they lack nutrients and flavor in addition to their potentially inflammation-causing properties. Though we’re not 100% sure yet what the exact relationship is between seed oils and inflammation, you might want to consider avoiding highly processed vegetable oils high in omega-6 content. This includes oils like:



● Corn Oil

● Safflower Oil

● Soybean Oil

● Canola (rapeseed) Oil

● Peanut Oil

● Cottonseed Oil

● Sunflower Oil


It also means skipping products that contain these oils and fats too. Most commercial mayonnaise contains these oils as do salad dressings, processed products and many more. Even if a dressing or mayo is touted as using a healthier oil, do check the label as it may just be a small percentage of this oil and the rest seed oil.


You can easily make your own mayonnaise using a healthier oil (olive oil or avocado oil are my favourites). If you want to buy a healthier version then you can find one I recommend by a local company in the UAE called Thrrive. You can grab yourself a 10% discount on their products by using the code MIM10 (I do not receive any financial incentive for recommending this brand, I just believe they do an excellent job of trying to provide the healthiest food possible).

Check it out here.




HEALTHY FATS

This is not to say that you should be avoiding oils altogether! There are plenty of healthy

(and tasty!) alternatives to vegetable oils.



OLIVE OIL

Olive oil is probably the best known healthy oil, and for good reason. Both nutritionists and cooking experts stand behind its heart-healthy benefits and its flavor. Opt for extra-virgin olive oil which is not only high quality but also ensures that it is not refined or overly processed. Olive oil is a great option for both cooking as well as salad dressing, and of course, it is delicious simply drizzled over fresh bread. Olive oil has a low smoke point, which means it isn't a great idea for high heat cooking or frying.


AVOCADO OIL

Avocado is a lesser-known healthy oil alternative, but it's right up there with olive oil when it comes to health benefits and nutritional value. It’s higher smoke point means it can be used for higher-heat cooking like stir-frys, and its unobtrusive flavor means it can also be used in baking. You will commonly find avocado oil as an ingredient in healthy mayonnaise options, as well.



NUT OILS

Nut oils are a good source of healthy nutrients, though they lack the fiber that is found in whole nuts. Nut oils like walnut oil, macadamia nut oil, or pumpkin seed oil are a delicious option for homemade salad dressings or for cooking. Though cooking with nut oils can be tricky as overheating them can render the oils bitter. Macadamia oil is probably the most flavour neutral with the highest heating point.


COCONUT OIL

There are many cultures that use coconut oil as their oil of choice and if you like the taste, it sure is a great alternative for cooking in, using in baking and even in the famous bulletproof coffee for a great recipe for bulletproof coffee, check out my

FREE KETO MEAL PLAN in my shop.


BUTTER

For taste and mouthfeel, butter is one of the best fats you can use. Just be careful as it can burn easily. Grass Fed or organic butter is superior to conventional butter as it has a better nutrient profile.


LARD AND TALLOW

Much maligned in the last 30 years, these natural animal fats have made a huge come back. Choose them for roasting or frying to give great flavour to foods.


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