Good quality fats make food taste good, protect our organs, insulate our bodies, and help make up our cellular membranes. They are necessary for absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K. Fats are required for properly managing inflammation. Fats are the longest burning energy source, slowing the absorption of food, and satisfying our appetites. Humans are designed to burn fats, not carbohydrates.
The SAD (Standard American Diet) suggests we reduce our fat intake, especially saturated fats. However; most of us aren’t consuming enough of the quality fats. We are eating too many hydrogenated trans-fats, leading to epidemic rates of obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, so they are stable for heating and cooking. Good saturated sources include wild deep water fish and organic grass fed animal fat, which contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Butter contains anti-microbial benefits, and is good for the gut. Organic Virgin Coconut oil is another great choice. These fats have been consumed by our ancestors for thousands of years.
Unsaturated oils are less stable, and are named so because they have one (mono) or many (poly) available spaces for atoms to bond. They are liquid at room temperature. Extra virgin olive oil is a good example of monounsaturated fat, and a good source of Omega-9 fatty acids. Canola oil is a widely used polyunsaturated fat created within the last century, and was genetically modified from rapeseed oil. A better choice would flax seed oil, high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Unsaturated oils become rancid if not refrigerated or if they are exposed to light.
To extend shelf life, manufacturers artificially saturate oils through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogen atoms are placed beneath unsaturated oils and heated to extreme temperatures. Under pressure, the hydrogen atoms fill in the available spaces, saturating the molecules. Unfortunately, heat destroys the nutritional qualities of the unsaturated oils. The synthetic hydrogenated oils become unstable when later heated, breaking down and attracting dangerous free radicals. Crisco and margarine are some examples of hydrogenated trans-fats.
Eat fresh, local, organic, wild, and grass-fed. Avoid labels with the term “hydrogenated”. Namaste!