Healthy Fats

Posted November 28th, 2013 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Fats, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Fat is essential for the proper function of the body, it is an integral part of every cell membrane, regulates the immune system, reduces inflammation, and vitamins A, C, E, and K require fat to be properly absorbed in the body. Deficiencies in these vitamins are linked to malabsorption, bone density issues, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome. Here’s a brief overview of the different fats, and healthy food sources.

Essential fats – omega-3 and omega-6 – These fats are not produced by the human body and must be acquired from the diet. They promote cardiovascular health, keep cell membranes fluid, lubricate joints and skin, boost metabolism, nourish the nervous and immune systems and help keep hormones in balance.

Food sources: mechanically cold-pressed chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed oils, algae, fish, krill and walnut oils; almond, black currant seed, borage seed, evening primrose seed, pumpkin seed, safflower seed, sesame seed and sunflower seed oils. Once you open the bottle, they need to be consumed rapidly – store in refrigerator.

Monounsaturated fats – important for the healthy function of the brain and all cell-membranes, and reducing reduce inflammation. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

Food sources: avocados, cold-pressed avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grape seed oils, nut oils.

Saturated fats – make up 50% of your body’s cell membranes, bones require saturated fat to properly assimilate calcium, your lungs and heart use saturated fat for nourishment and proper function.  Additionally, saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristeric acid and lauric acid), play a large role in immune health.

The brain is made up of fats and cholesterol, mainly saturated fat. A diet low in saturated fats deprives the brain of the building blocks it needs for proper repair and function. Saturated fats are also needed for nerve communication; they function directly as signaling messengers and influence the metabolism.

Food sources: Organic butter and ghee (clarified butter), cheese, grass-fed meat, free-range eggs and poultry, coconut oil and palm oil.

Cholesterol – 1/5th of the brain’s weight is cholesterol, it makes up much of the myelin sheath, facilitates brain communication and function, is a powerful brain antioxidant and is a precursor to steroid hormones and Vitamin D.

Food sources: Grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and eggs.

Fats to avoid – Refined, processed, chemically extracted, bleached, damaged, and hydrogenated oils are toxic to every cell of the body. Margarine and processed or genetically modified products such as vegetable oil, cottonseed oil soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and any hydrogenated oils should always be avoided. These fats are anti-nutritive, denatured, highly processed, pesticide and solvent laden, rancid, and refined. Of course, we all now know about the dangers of trans fats so avoid all fats that have hydrogenation listed on the label. NO AMOUNT OF TRANS FATS is safe to consume.

Guide to Cooking with Fat

As a rule of thumb, if the predominant classification of an oil or fat is polyunsaturated, then we should never cook with it – regardless of its smoke point. Lipid oxidation and free-radical production quickly takes place when these types of fatty acids are exposed to any degree of heat – even very low heat. This is a big red flag for producing inflammation and irritation within our bodies.

Heat (above 350°F): saturated fats and cholesterol – lard from animal fat, butter, ghee, coconut oil

Low to medium heat (moderately stable oils): extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil. When cooking with these oils, use broth or water to keep the temperature down and stop them from overheating.

Not to be heated (very unstable oils): nut and seed oils (including grape seed oil) , camelina oil – delicious drizzled over salads, fruit, and steamed vegetables topped with some lightly toasted nuts and seeds. They are delicate and easily damaged by heat, light, oxygen, and moisture, so refrigerate in a tightly sealed, opaque bottle. Look for cold-pressed, unrefined versions only.

Additionally, therapeutic oils such as cod liver, fish liver, borage, black currant oil, and evening primrose should NEVER be used for cooking.

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Insight of the Day

Posted May 23rd, 2011 in Fats by Rebecca Lane
Heating vegetable oils to the point where they smoke can cause trans-fats to form

Heating vegetable oils to the point where they smoke can cause trans-fats to form

Just read today’s insight from Bob Proctor and had to share because it is something that I believe completely:

“One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.” – Earl Nightingale, Author and Speaker, 1921-1989

This is something that I have always believed and never really followed through on. I’m always reading about food and its healing powers – and I really want to be knowledgeable so that I can share it with everyone that I meet. And I know that keeping on top of new research in the field is critical to helping people make change in their life.

Just yesterday, I was sitting at a Vegetarian Dim Sum restaurant in NY Chinatown with a table full of foodies and nutritionists. We had a disagreement about how trans-fats could be created. Most said that the flipped trans-bonds could be created only through hydrogenation – but I was sure that I had read somewhere that the trans-bonds could also be made from overheating vegetable fats and by deep frying. So, as soon as I got home (and remembered) I checked in Udo Erasmus’ book Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill and found that indeed trans-bonds can replace the natural cis-bonds if overheated – here’s the reference on page 107:

“Cis-double bonds have both hydrogen atoms on the carbons involved in double bonds on the same side of the molecule. The twist that occurs at high temperatures reached during frying, deep-frying, hydrogenation and, to a smaller extent, deodorization, flips the hydrogens on the carbons involved in double bonds onto opposite sides of the molecule.”

This is really important knowledge because frying unsaturated fats like olive oil and vegetable oil at high temperatures can cause not only the fats to break down and become rancid and full of free-radicals, but also can cause trans-fats to be formed which are unnatural and damaging to the body. If oils become so hot that they smoke or turn brown – the random free radical reactions due to light, oxidation-rancidity and heat-twisting effects combine, interact and synergize each other’s destructiveness.

Research has shown that damaged fats can produce atherosclerosis (trans-bonds are stickier than cis-bonds), can impair cell respiration and other cell functions, inhibit immune functions, and lead to cancer. (page 115 of Erasmus)

I realize that I need to give more background information and define some terms to make this valuable knowledge for everyone, but the point that I’m making is that removing margarine and shortenings and partially-hydrogenated oils from our diet is only a starting point. Fried foods can be just as damaging and we need to be aware of their effects on our bodies when we choose to include them in our diet. When heating vegetable oils, use vegetable stock and water to keep them cool and to stop them from burning and becoming damaged. This technique makes little difference to the taste but huge difference to the health of the oils.

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