Today's topic is oils and fats. What a topic hey, poor fat has been so degraded in the past 20 years, what with the introduction of low fat, skim and no fat products. This marketing strategy has brought with it the idea that fat is bad for the body full stop, and this simply isn't the case. Our bodies actually need fat to be healthy, but in saying this, there are fats and there are fats!
Let me explain: Generally speaking, there are saturated fats, trans fats, and unsaturated fats.
Trans fats are the kind that we don't need or want, and are found in very low levels in meat and milk, and in quite high levels in foods that are highly processed and chemically modified. Particularly margarine, baked goods, fried foods and snack foods. The effect of trans fats on the body include suppression of our immune system, increase in cholesterol in the blood and damage to our cell membranes.
Saturated fats are different to trans fats, and come mostly from animal and some plant sources. They are a very stable form of fat, not sensitive to heat or light. Our bodies do need an amount of saturated fat in order to maintain healthy cell membranes and for brain and nerve health. Coconut oil is a plant source of saturated fat, and may even help with fat burning in the body.
The benefits of saturated fats are particularly seen in cooking. This sounds a bit weird, so i'll explain what I mean. When we cook with high heat such as stir frying, we need to use a stable fat, such as butter or coconut oil. These oils are both saturated, and because of this they maintain their integrity during exposure to high heat, and can therefore be beneficial in the body. Macadamia oil and rice bran oils are other good choices for cooking with heat, as they also remain stable at high temperatures.
Unsaturated fats on the other hand are very sensitive to light, heat and oxygen. This means that the wonderful olive oil with bountiful health properties is no good for use when cooking your yummy stir frys. This also means that when buying unsaturated fats you need to make sure they are in a dark bottle or tin, and store them in the fridge tightly sealed. Our bodies respond well to unsaturated fats in the diet, and they are particularly useful in maintaining the health of our cardiovascular systems, immunity and skin health. They also help to maintain the integrity of all the cells in our body, and can even have an anti-inflammatory action.
To include unsaturated fats into your diet, you can use olive, almond, flaxseed and walnut oils for salad dressings, or add them to stir frys after they have been cooked. They can also be added to smoothies, porridge, breads, pretty much anything after it has been cooked (just make sure the oil isn't exposed to direct heat).
This is a pretty basic low down on fats and oils, and which oils to use when. If you have any questions please ask away in the comments section. Also if you have any great info on the topic of fats/oils we'd all love you to share it with us.
Cheerio for tonight
Love and Light, Ally :)