17 November 2014
(NaturalNews) Perhaps the most confusing aspect of diet and nutrition revolves around fats and fatty acids. There are many disagreements with what fats are healthy and unhealthy, and very few of the different types of fats have a solid consensus on health.
So far, there seems to be consensus on omega-3 fatty acids as both essential and healthy. These fatty acids are found in various fish oils, nuts and seeds like flax and chia. For optimal digestion, flax seeds should be ground and eaten within two hours, and flax seed oils should be refrigerated to avoid spoiling.
Another solid consensus has been established with trans fatty acids or processed plant oils that are partly hydrogenated. This consensus agrees that processed oils, such as hydrogenated margarine and various hydrogenated plant or seed oils are very unhealthy. They’re used often because they’re cheaper than cold-pressed plant oils, have longer shelf lives and are perfect for deep frying with the same oil over and over. They are ubiquitous in processed and fast foods.
Where consensus is lacking revolves mostly around saturated fats. Those are mostly animal or dairy fats such as butter or cheeses. Then there are the saturated fats in plant oils such as coconut and palm oils. The recommendations range from the extreme of avoiding all saturated fatty acids (SFA) to indulging in them.
Many health specialists and even cardiologists now disagree with the long-held supposition that SFAs are responsible for poor heart health and arteriosclerosis (arteries hardening or clogging). Coconut oil’s medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) have demonstrated a unique ability to be converted to ketones, which act as both a brain fuel booster and neuron restorer to improve dementia sufferers’ lives.
There has been some success with using a diet high in saturated fats to reverse cancer in some. The Paleo Diet focuses heavily on saturated fats, and more and more are seeing the health follies of avoiding saturated fats that are pure and untainted by external chemical influences. Too bad for the low- or no-fat food makers who have exploited the fat myth long enough.
Saturated fats tend to remain solid at cool room temperatures, while cold-pressed or mechanically extracted polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats remain liquid unless heavily chilled.
If an oil smokes while cooking, it’s becoming toxically tainted. The least stable oil for cooking would be monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, while polyunsaturated fats such as safflower oil are more stable heated. For cooking, saturated fats are the most stable.
So what about fats and cardiovascular health?
A University of Eastern Finland group recently concluded a 21-year epidemiological study on 1,981 men between the ages of 42 and 60 who are part of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study.
The KIHD study is an ongoing prospective, population-based cohort study designed to investigate risk factors for cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis among middle-aged men from eastern Finland, a population with one of the highest recorded rates of coronary heart disease (CHD).
During the 21.4-year follow up, 565 men were diagnosed with a coronary heart disease, out of which there were 183 cardiac death events. The researchers concluded:
Our results suggest that SFA intake is not an independent risk factor for CHD, even in a population with higher ranges of SFA intake. In contrast, polyunsaturated fat intake was associated with lower risk of fatal CHD, whether replacing SFA, trans fat, or carbohydrates.
Remember to avoid all fats that have the word hydrogenated on the ingredients list. Those are the nasty unhealthy trans fatty acid fats. Also watch out for GMO sources such as cotton seed and corn oils. Despite the commonly held notion as being healthy, canola oil is considered an unhealthy option by many experts.
So loosen up. Go ahead and enjoy healthy fats of all types. Our bodies need fats for brain and nervous system tissue, cell walls and the ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D3.