Fats & Oils
What is the importance of good oils?
The Western diet tends to be deficient in beneficial oils (essential fatty acids). Many people in the Western World are afflicted with inflammatory diseases due to the typical western diet which sees people eating high amounts of refined foods, red meats and sugar. These foods cause an imbalance to the ratio of oils in the body and may cause inflammation in many individuals as well as cardiovascular diseases, immune depression, integumentary system inflammation, dry skin and brain and learning problems.
There tends to be a lot of controversy surrounding which oils and fats are most beneficial for good health and which ones are not ideal. If you decide to take a supplementary form of beneficial oil it is important to purchase quality oil which is cold pressed from the seed rather than ones extracted with chemical solvents and heat processes as this degrades the vitamin E levels within.
The cheap oils often use the latter method of yielding the oil, it may be economical but it also leaves the oil void of many of the life giving components. These oils are also bleached to make the oil cleaner tasting, odourless and the appearance clear. This process also leaves chemical residues in the oil as many chemicals are fat-soluble and therefore stay with the oil to be bottled and eventually digested. Some of these chemicals such as Hexane which is used as a solvent is a derivative of petroleum refinement.
Cold pressed extra virgin oils are made as the name implies, with no heat, via one pressing of the seed. Using no heat means that the chemical structure of the lipids within the precious oil is not changed, leaving it in its natural state for better absorption and health giving properties. The healthiest forms of oils to use internally are extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oils (linseed oil) and small amounts of coconut oil.
There are many television advertisements, which harp on about the value of margarine as a source of good oils. However, common table margarine provides mostly Omega 6 oils. It is estimated that 80% of the Western Population is deficient in the Omega 3 oils and this is why there is such a large predominance of inflammatory conditions such as excema, dermatitis and arthritis in today's society. This is also why many of the margarine companies promote that they have added extra Omega 3 oils to their coloured, hydrolysed, heat -treated products.
When cooking with oil it is best to use oil in its raw state rather than heating it. When people make stir fry's and heat the oil, when oil boils it is rendered useless as the chemical structure is changed (oxidized), making it unstable and toxic to the human body. This is also why there are so many health risks with consuming take away and deep fried foods, the oil becomes rancid and contributes to cardiovascular diseases.. Use oil liberally on salads, add it to smoothies or at the end of the meal when the food is taken off the heat to maximise the anti-oxidant, free-radical scavenging properties of the oil.
Oil is sensitive, so the best way to store oils is in a dark glass bottle or a coated, non-reactive metal container away from direct light, oxygen and heat sources. This will ensure that your oil stays rich in the anti-oxidants needed for good health. Oils contained within plastic containers and stored on the supermarket shelves under bright lights will no doubt be void of many of the tocopherols and carotenoids (the two main anti-oxidants found in olive oil).
Good Fats vs Bad Fats
There are good fats and bad fats which you can yield from your diet. Good fats should make up the bulk of your dietary fats as they help to lower cholesterol and heart disease.
- Monounsaturated fats
- Polyunsaturated fats
- Avocado oil
- Chia seed oil
- Coconut butter
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Macadamia oil
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Virgin coconut oil
- Emu oil
- Krill oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Sacha Inchi oil
- Fish oil
- Nuts & Seeds - almonds, brazil nuts, macadamias, pistachios, walnuts, chia seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini and nut butters
- Saturated fats (animal fats)
- Trans-fatty acids (margarine, butter-like spreads, deep fried and baked foods)
- Hydrogenated fats
What are Essential Fatty Acids?
Essential fatty acids (EFA's) in your diet to help moisturise the skin and reduce sensitivity. Many westerners are chronically deficient in the omega 3 essential fatty acids due to a diet full of Omega 6 essential fatty acids and this is the primary reason for many inflammatory diseases being prevalent in the western society.
Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids vs Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids
The Omega 3 oils are anti-inflammatory in action whereas the Omega 6 oils cause inflammation (Omega 6 do however have some health promoting properties):
Omega 3 Essential fatty acids
- Fish and fish oils
- Nuts and seeds
- Avocado oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Krill oil
- Perilla seed oil
- Cod Liver oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil
- Emu oil
Omega 6 Essential fatty acids
- Saturated fats and trans-fatty acids
- Peanut oil
- Animal products - meats, eggs, dairy
- Borage, Hemp and Black currant oils
- Evening Primrose oil
- Vegetable oils
- Krill oil
- Sunflower and safflower oils
- Emu oil
Fish oil is a well known supplement used by thousands of people with great success. Fish oil is yielded from the flesh of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies.
Fish oils specifically contain two essential fatty acids called Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). EPA is a potent anti-inflammatory helpful for the cardiovascular system to reduce inflammation, viscous blood and sticky cholesterol as well as reducing inflammation present anywhere in the body. DHA is helpful for brain health and is found to be deficient in people with autism, dyslexia or any learning difficulties as well as protective to the nervous system.
- Emu Oil is the Oil derived from the Australian native bird, the Emu. Emu oil has many health benefits when used topically and taken internally due to its high lipid content. Emu oil contains essential fatty acids also, however it contains the whole specturm (Omega 3, 6 and 9) rather than just Omega 3 (fish oil). The following are some indications Emu oil can be used for:
- dry skin, wound healing and scarring
- psoriasis and eczema
- hair loss
- arthritis and inflammation
- muscle aches and pains
- insect bites
Supplemental krill oil is a relatively recent addition to the natural therapies industry, in regards to availabilty to purchase it for consumption. The health benefits of krill oil closely resemble the effects of fish oil due to the essential fatty acid component of Omega 3, however unlike fish oil it contains also Omega 6 essential fatty acids. It also yields other health giving nutrients and is high in pospholipids for the health of the nervous system, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is a type of dietary oil yielded from the liver organ of the species of cod fish. Cod liver oil contains Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Phospolipids and high amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin D3. Cod liver oil is typically used for the health of the respiratory system, immune system, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system. Cod liver oils direct actions are due to its anti-inflammatory actions and the oil has a specifically demulcent (soothing) effect on the mucus membranes to reduce inflammation due to allergies.