THE SKINNY ON FAT
Hello everyone. I apologize for being late on delivery of my recent blogs but my brother’ passing kept me occupied. I will be sending out new blogs probably every other week instead of every week because of new time constraints. But they should be every bit as alluring as before. With that in mind let’s talk about fat.
Inflammation starts with the type of fats that you consume.
Fats come from numerous sources both plant and animal. They can be saturated meaning that all of the carbon atoms have their full complement of hydrogen atoms bonded to them or they can be unsaturated in the form of omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Ω6 PUFA). The cheap cooking oils like Wesson vegetable oil or Mazola corn oil are examples. It turns out that every cell in the body can make certain powerful hormones called eicosanoids from the FA’s we eat. Because of their chemical structure, the cheap seed oils form inflammatory eicosanoids which I will define in the next section. We also have Ω3 PUFA
The Ω3 PUFA’s on the other hand produce anti-inflammatory or neutral eicosanoids. There are other oils that for one reason or another are good for you and there are others that are very bad. The lists below come from a slide I use in seminars and teaching on proper diet and nutrition. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list but I did try to jot down the most common oils you’ll encounter. Listed are good and bad fats, ones that reduce inflammation and the pro-inflammatory fats respectively. EVOO stands for extra virgin olive oil. Recently the tropical oils have been vindicated. They are good for you. These medium chain FA once vilified as being artery clogging no longer have that stigmata except in the empty halls of nutritionist’s minds and in hospital menus still showing evidence of the ancient ways like viewing 30,000 year old cave paintings.
Medium chain FA, commonly called medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are formed when three MCFA are bound together as a “tri”-glyceride molecule. These are found in human milk, butter and coconut oil. It is the MCT that makes coconut oil unique and very healthy. It is immediately broken down and used as fuel much like glucose. Little can be stored as fat.
In fact, a New York Times article goes on to say how lauric acid the main fatty acid in coconut oil actually increases HDL. MCT if obtained from extra virgin coconut oil are rich in cancer fighting flavonoids. MCT are metabolized in the body like glucose but will not raise your insulin level. It’s an excellent source of energy. For health maintenance try a tablespoon per day, or cook with it since it is heat stable and reusable also because of its stability. I will cook breakfast using coconut oil. On the rare occasion that I eat this kind of food, such as Christmas day, I’ll fry bacon, Canadian bacon, eggs and French toast using coconut oil. The food tastes really great with it. On the other hand I experimented browning meatballs with coconut oil to be used in a tomato sauce, and it was let’s just say not indicated. Recently I have read about “pulling” or using this to rinse your mouth out to help treat gingivitis and general mouth care. You swish it around your mouth for 10-20 minutes and then discard it. Do this in addition to flossing and brushing.
Also short chain FA, another saturated fat, is good for you too. Short chain fatty acids come from the bacterial breakdown of fiber in the gut into FA like butyrate which is anti-inflammatory. It nourishes both the colon and the person.
Extra virgin olive oil or EVOO and hazelnut oil are mostly made up of monosaturated fats like oleic acid which is also found in lard, tallow, avocado and eggs. EVOO is rich in hydroxytyrosol a powerful anti-inflammatory polyphenol found in olives and known to be cardioprotective. The first cold pressing EVOO is the olive oil to use since it is the only one with high levels of polyphenols. Its oleic acid content has anticancer, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective properties. Some have suggested that the high intake of EVOO in both Crete and Sicily may account for the longevity of these islanders. The Cretans also eat greens with every meal choosing from among thousands found in the mountains and foothills. Use the expensive EVOO first cold press for all of your non-heat related activities like for salad dressing. Use every day EVOO for cooking at lower heat levels, and use the saturated fats like coconut for high heat sautéing. If you must eat polyunsaturated oil look for the high-oleic versions such as high oleic safflower oil. Do not be lulled into thinking that high oleic oils are good for you however. They are still omega 6 FA and therefore proinflammatory.
CLA which is not on my list is another very healthy fat. Pastured butter from grass fed cows is one of the richest sources of CLA available. This fat has been shown to dramatically decrease the risk for breast, colon and possibly prostate cancer. A little per day is all that is needed as a preventative. It may help in weight loss too at doses of 1,000 mg per day. Some studies show that CLA supplements don’t work. It’s best to get your CLA from pastured animal products such as butter and full-fat cheeses.
Numerous studies verify the health giving effects of nuts and their oils. Some nut oils are better than others: hazelnut is one of the best, walnut and almond oil are both high in polyunsaturated fats which are not healthy overall but are still good relatively speaking when compared to the bad fats on my list. Although many of the nut oils are high in Ω6PUFA they contain other elements that help to reduce CVD risk. The PREDIMED study found that eating a handful of nuts per day and the liberal use of EVOO dramatically reduced the risk for stroke among other things. A quick literature search confirms the multitudes of studies that put nuts in the very good for you category. Although most of the studies used cooked nuts, raw nuts would be far better.
Most people use animal fat and saturated fat interchangeably since we have been conditioned to believe that animal fat is synonymous with saturated fat and that both are bad for you. Dr Willett a world authority on nutrition feels otherwise:
In 1990, Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University found that by evaluating the best studies to date, no correlation existed between saturated fat intake and risk of heart disease. Subsequent diet studies conducted in 1995 and 1997 found similar results.
Most also believe that animal fat is 100% saturated. Well it turns out that neither is true. The truth is that red meat fat, beef fat, is only about 46% saturated; lard 40% saturated; chicken fat 30% saturated; they also contain a special fat called palmitoleic acid which has powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.
OXIDIZED OIL IS DANGEROUS
One of the big problems is the oxidation of oils either before we eat them or after that makes them dangerous to human health. This is one of the biggest reasons why I promote only the very best fish oil products. Fish oil can oxidize very quickly to become a massive source for generating inflammation. It’s the same for food preparation. Once a cooking oil becomes oxidized it takes on a new role as a pro-oxidant: a free radical maker. The oils that oxidize most readily are the omega 6 polyunsaturated oils. These are the oils that nutritionists and cardiologists have been telling you for decades to consume more of because they lower your LDL. While your Ω6PUFA oxidizes on your plate as you are eating, the Elites loudly proclaim they are good for your heart because of this LDL lowering effect. That’s what happens when you try to layer scientific findings on top of dead paradigms, like the Diet-Heart Hypothesis. These oils will lower your LDL cholesterol while they promote metastasis of cancers and atherosclerosis. They generate high levels of free radicals and arachidonic acid (AA) which encourages inflammatory diseases to sprout up like dandelions in the spring. They are not healthy for you.
When cooking with good fats use the tropical oils or toasted sesame oil for sautéing at a higher heat setting (over medium). Cook with butter and EVOO at lower heat ranges (medium or lower). Use the nut oils and first cold press EVOO for salads. Heating these delicate oils will alter their molecular structure and render them less powerful as an anti-inflammatory substance.
There are many reasons why bad fats are bad. After you finish this section you’ll start to appreciate the fact that had I followed my cardiologist’s advice and continued to eat these dangerous fats I’d be dead. The very worst are the TFA simply because they are completely unnatural and have very powerful inflammatory actions which I will discuss later. Before I do I want to finish my discussion of the omega 6 fats. The whole omega 6 FA thing got started when researchers discovered that the omega 6’s reduced total and LDL cholesterol. In this myopic world they assumed it must be good for you. It’s true they can lower cholesterol but they also generate oxLDL and AA among other decidedly unhealthy things. It’s only a matter of time before the public learns the truth regarding the dangers of the omega 6 oils which include all of the fats listed in the last two categories above: canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, cotton, soy, grape seed and peanut oil to name most of them. If you come across some other seed oil it is probably not good for you unless its sesame. I will go into greater detail on the mechanism of why the omega 6 FA’s are bad but for now let’s look at a few highlights as to why they should be avoided.
1. Cooking your food in omega-6 vegetable oils produces a variety of very toxic chemicals, as well as forming trans-fats. Frying destroys the antioxidants in oil, actually oxidizing the oil, which causes even worse problems for your body than trans-fats.
2. Most vegetable oils are GM (genetically modified), including more than 90 percent of soy, corn and canola oils.
3. Vegetable oils contribute to the overabundance of damaged omega-6 fats in your diet, throwing off your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Nearly everyone in Western society consumes far too many omega-6 fats — about 100 times more than a century ago — and insufficient omega 3 fats, which contributes to numerous chronic degenerative diseases.
4. These are known to suppress immunity, especially cell mediated immunity, and they are frequently and easily oxidized without heating, which converts them into especially harmful oils.
5. These oils are powerful inflammation generators. They provide the starter molecules for the production of a key inflammatory fatty acid called arachidonic acid (pronounced arakidonic) or AA. AA goes on to give you a variety of inflammatory prostaglandins which contribute to pain, decreased blood flow, and cellular aging.
6. One of the most disturbing features of omega 6 FA’s is that they also contribute to the generation of cancers, the spread of metastasis, and the increase in growth of tumors.
7. Furthermore, they are one of the key ingredients responsible for causing heart disease.
8. Omega 6 oils should be removed from your kitchen pantry and replaced with EVOO and other fats on the good list.
Keep in mind that any product made with GMO seeds or grains will also be significantly higher in Roundup pesticide residues. Avoiding pesticide residues is mandatory if you wish to stay healthy.