There’s been a lot of hype about incorporating fat into our diets lately. The Keto diet is one of the most popular diets out there right now which consists of low carb, high fat foods.
Fat is a super important component of our nutrition. We ARE fat. All of our cells that make life possible is mainly comprised of fat. Every cell in our bodies have a membrane around it that allows compounds in and out of the cell for proper functioning. This membrane is derived of the fats we consume through our food. This means the condition of our cells (ie: how permeable they are to nutrients) is directly dependent on how much and which kind of fats we are eating.
Sneaky Processed and Damaged Oils
Damaged Fats are consumed all the time without our knowledge. Ever been to the Whole Foods hot bar and feel kind of foggy or bloated after? Or you ate out at a nice restaurant and you did your very best to eat healthy by ordering sautéed veggies and steak, but still went home feeling like a blob? This is because most of our foods are being cooked with low quality oils such as canola oil, corn oil, sunflower or safflower oil, or a vegetable oil blend. Even some pricey fine dining restaurants cut their olive oil with canola oil to cut costs. (Love you, Whole Foods, but step up your oil game!)
Why Does It Matter?
As I mentioned, the proper functioning of our cells is directly related to the amount and quality of the fats we consume. When we consume damaged and highly reactive fats, our cell membranes incorporate these fats, wrap the rest our cells in them, and then we have damaged, under-performing cells. Our brains are a perfect example of this. Fat is an essential component of our brains, making up about 50% of its dry weight. These fats insulate and protect our brains, help the nervous system, and are closely connected to the transmission of signaling through neuron synapses which is how our brains interpret information. Behavior, mood, and sleep are controlled by neurotransmitter levels which is directly affected by fatty acids.
Processed fats also cause inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection and tissue damage, but chronic inflammation leads to disease such as obesity and arthritis. A lot of us are aware that chronic inflammation is harmful, but sugar has namely been the stated cause of this issue. Damaged oils are actually are greater cause of inflammation than sugar because sugar can be metabolized by the body or “burnt off.” The fat you eat becomes part of your cell structure and there’s no way to undo that. When it comes to fat, you literally are what you eat.
How To Spot Processed or Damaged Fats
When Canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, or even a higher quality olive oil are heated too long or at too high of temperatures, it causes oxidative and thermal degradation which in turn modifies the nutritional value of your food. Most chips, French fries, or precooked packaged foods are used with these oils. If you take a look at the ingredient list on the back of a bag of Doritos, Corn, sunflower, AND canola oil are the first three ingredients. Vegetable oil blend is a tricky way to say “cheap blend of bad oils.” Be aware of your ingredients before buying. At restaurants, just ask which kind of oil your food will be cooked in.
Healthy Oil Alternatives
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a very beneficial fat source. However, it is best to consume it cold or add it in after you are done cooking to maintain its natural structure (ie. drizzle it over your cooked veggies). Same goes for Sesame oil. These oils should be stored in a place where sunlight cannot get to it to avoid it going rancid. (Rancid was the first concert I ever went to. My dad took me. He’s the coolest.) Coconut oil and avocado oil have extremely high heat points and are safer to cook with. Butter or ghee can also be used for cooking. (Butter is the easiest to request at restaurants if you’re trying to avoid processed oils) There are also plenty of brands on the market using avocado and coconut oils now. Primal Kitchen and Chosen Foods have an entire line of salads, mayos, and other condiments used with avocado oil. Good Health, Kettle Brand, and Siete offer chips and tortillas baked with avocado or coconut oils.
Cooking at home is your best bet to avoid the unwanted health risks that come along with bad oils, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying eating out or snacking on some treats! Just advocate for your own health!
I have plenty more tips and tricks on this. Just reach out!
Love and Light,