Oils and Fats Explained
Omega-3 vs. Omega-6
We need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. Note that omega-3 fats are necessary for the complete development of the human brain during pregnancy.
On the other hand, vegetable oils like corn, soy, sunflower, canola are rich in omega-6 oils and shouldn’t be used for cooking.
How Best To Ensure Omega-3 Intake?
Since our bodies cannot make omega-3 fats, we must obtain them through food.
Many nutrition experts believe we need at least 4% of the total calories (approximately 4 grams) as omega-3 fats.
Flaxseeds and walnuts would be at the top of the omega-3 rich foods list. 40 grams of flaxseeds (1/4 cup) contain about 6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. 40 of walnuts contain around 4 grams (1/4 cup of walnuts is around 3 grams)
Beans, fish, winter squash and olive oil are other important sources.
Frying Oxidizes the Oils and Damages Omega-3
Frying destroys the antioxidants and oxidizes the oils.
As the oil is heated and mixed with oxygen, it becomes rancid (oxidized) and should not be consumed as it leads directly to heart disease.
The best is to stay away from frying. Even frying fish and frying with olive oil will damage the omega-3s.
Olive Oil – Great for Salads, Not Great For Cooking
Olive oil is one of those miraculous gifts of nature. Extra virgin olive oil is considered by many as one of the healthiest fats on Earth. Real “extra virgin” olive oil is 100% natural and very high in antioxidants. Many of the lower quality olive oils have been processed and adulterated with cheaper oils.
However, olive oil is extremely “fragile” and need to be carefully stored and handled with care.
Olive oil is best to be consumed in when not heated. Olive oil is not the best oil to cook with as cooking makes it prone to oxidative damage. Also the olive oil go rancid quickly.
Tip: To help protect extra virgin olive oil from oxidation, you may add one drop of astaxanthin or lutein (by piercing and squeezing the gellule). Astaxanthin or lutein cause oil to turn red or orange so once when the color fades, the oil should be thrown away.
Another good strategy is to keep olive oil at the dark place and buy smaller quantities.
Butter is Healthy!
Butter is a great source of vitamin A, (D, E and K2), which are often lacking in the urban diet. It also contains minerals like selenium, it is good source of iodine, fatty acids, contains a perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats and many other benefits.
However, not all butter is created equal, and you need to take care to buy the butter made from raw, unpasteurized, organic milk.
Avoid Margarine, Butter-Mimicking Products and “Cholesterol-Free” Cooking Fats
Margarine and all other butter-mimicking foods including “cholesterol-free” advertised cooking fats should be avoided at any cost.
There is a myriad of unhealthy components in margarine and the likes including trans fats (unnatural fats that contribute to heart disease, cancer), free radicals (linked to cancer), emulsifiers, preservatives, bleach, additives and many, many others.
Key Things to Remember
- Take care of your omega-3 fatty acid intake. Adding some flaxseed and walnuts would be the easiest way to go about it.
- For cooking and baking the best is to use exclusively coconut oil or ghee.
- Consume, but do not heat other healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and butter (from raw, organic milk). Avocados, egg yolks are additional sources of healthy fats.
- Stay away from margarine and “butter-mimicking” foods including “cholesterol-free” advertised cooking fats.