Fat. Why do you need it?

Fat is one of the most demonised macro nutrients, and unfairly so. Profit led research and bad science in the past has made the western world think fat is the enemy. In this blog post i’ll be cover the different types of fats, the benefits of them, as well as which ones you should include in your diet, as well as the evidence!

In todays post, lets start off with the fat that is most promoted (and prominent) in our diet, the PUFA’s, or Polyunsaturated Fat as we like to call them. Studies are now showing that rancid (Means gone off) PUFA’s such as vegetable oils play a role in the same effects that saturated fats were demonized for – atherogenesis (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16270286)

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Vegetable Oils are the main source of rancid PUFA

The reason why PUFA’s are very prone to becoming rancid (Oxidised/gone off) is because of their molecular structure. They are very unstable, going rancid as soon as they see light, air and heat. Please bear with me for the scientific bit! 

So, Polyunsaturated:

  • Poly= many
  • Unsaturated= Having the power to dissolve more of a substance (such as oxygen which makes it gone off when it reacts with the air)
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Notice the double bonds (=) The more of these there are, the more space there is for oxygen to react and make it rancid.

PUFA’s are highly sensitive, meaning that simply exposure to air or heat and make them rancid. So think about it, all those bottles of vegetable oils that have been sitting in the supermarket for months, do you think they are not rancid?

PUFA’s have been linked to the following:

  • Oxidising cholesterol (this is when the damage really occurs)
  • Inflammation – Do you have a stuffy nose? headaches? back pain?
  • Free radical damage (the opposite of an anti-oxidant!)
  • Wrinkles

Where are they found?

  • Grain products
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts
  • Fish Oil (However this can be a very beneficial type if not oxidised)
Polyunsaturated Fats: the Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)
 
As you may have heard, EFA’s are a type of fat that is necessary for health function. They are called essential as the body cannot produce it itself. There are 2 types: Omega 6 and Omega 3
 
In the western world, we consume far too much omega 6 from vegetable oils (cooking oils), corn (in nearly every processed food). Back when we used to eat real food, the ratio was more like 1:1 of omega 3 to omega 6. Now the western world is consuming as much as a 1:10 ratio, meaning that our intake of omega 6 is far higher. 
So whats the problem?

Omega 6 can be inflammatory- and inflammation is what causes most major diseases- including cardiovascular health disease. ( I will make a post explaining inflammation soon)

Whereas Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory, meaning it prevents all those problems associated with inflammation – arthritis, pains, aches, stuffy nose, and a general feeling of wellbeing. 

Unbalanced levels are now also being associated with depression.

So whats the ratio in most oils? (Omega 6:Omega 3)

  • Olive oil is 3:1
  • Soybean Oil is 7:1
  • Corn Oil is 46:1
How will this affect your diet and what do you need to do?
 
Firstly, eat more oily fish to balance your omega 3 levels. If you dont like fish, take a high quality fish oil supplement. Most fish oils in the shops are rancid – causing the aforementioned problems! So only buy the best quality: eg. Nordic Naturals, Minami Nutrition. With fish oils, you get what you pay for.
 
Eat less processed food- most processed food is cooked in cheap corn and vegetable oil. 
 
Eat more grass fed butter and meat. It may have lower levels of omega 6, and more omega 3.
 
Thats it for today, but tomorrow ill be discussing monounsaturated fat!
 
 

Sources:

http://augmentinforce.50webs.com/Chart%20Image%20of%20PUFA%20and%20SF%20oils.jpg

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fats/#axzz1vnhT1Abp

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