Fats and Oils
Fats are the most misunderstood of all three groups listed and has been unfairly labelled the bad guy. Without adequate amount of dietary fat, your body can not manufacture hormones or carry on normal cellular oxidation and energy production. This slows the metabolism and interferes with the development of lean muscle mass.
Fats are a vital component of the human body, fats provide the structural component of cell membranes and hormones, and help the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat is also the highest concentrate of energy (1g = 9calories)
Unlike carbohydrates fat does not trigger an insulin response – your body’s reaction to elevated blood sugars – so by consuming fats as part of a meal, we are slowing down the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream, so in this respect fat actually helps us to control our weight.
Fats when altered (trans fats) or consumed in excess, have been implicated in many degenerative diseases such as; obesity, heart disease, breast cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. But did you know that deficiencies in essential fatty acids can also participate in the onset of those same degenerative diseases.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) are like essential amino acids, meaning you body can not produce them you must acquire them from your diet. Linoleic acid (LA)(omega 6) and linolenic acid (LNA)(omega 3) are the two essential fatty acids that make up all of the other fatty acids humans need.
Sources of EFA are; Fresh nuts and seeds, legumes, lentils, sprouted grains, green leafy vegetables and fresh cold water fish, Oils and seeds from Flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and safflower are also sources of EFA. EPA / DHA (fish oil) have been shown to reduce the chronic inflammation, triglycerides and other risk factors for chronic diseases.
Types of fats are defined by their solubility;
Saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature examples are; butter, and coconut butter as well as the fat on meats.
Monounsaturated fatty acids like Oleic acid have been shown to have a protective cardiovascular effect, they are liquid at room temperature and their sources include; olive, almond and some other oils.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids consist of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they are very unstable and should never be heated or cooked with. Sources include; fish oils, sunflower oil and canola oil.
Trans Fatty acids should be avoided, they are found most commonly in biscuits, cakes, margarine, pastries, sausages, crackers and take away foods. Trans fats are produced by a process called hydrogenation, this is where liquid vegetable oils are chemically altered to form a semi solid fat. Trans fats while still unsaturated fat, in studies has been shown have a negative impact on health, and are far worse than saturated fats.