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Good luck with your fat

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I have been wanting to write a post about fats and oils for some time. Honestly, it is a rather difficult post to write. Not only are there so many differing opinions about fats and oils, but there are so many different processes (and science) behind the production of fats and oils. So in order to be thorough, books would have to be written and read, but this is just a humble blog post. So the purpose of this post is to, hopefully, give you things to consider as well as point you in the right direction.

Having changed the way I eat years ago, viewing how foods are processed and manufactured has become more of a matter of common sense (yes, your common sense can increase:). With regard to fats and oils, everything is processed to some degree. Knowing what is good, healthy, and beneficial is made easier by having the record of history and seeing what has nourished people for thousands of years. Of course, if you do not want to look at history you can study the processing and science of today and see how rancid industrial oils become, how much oxidation they undergo, what nutrients they are stripped of, or how they are bleached, deodorized, and refined.

So I suggest asking some questions when choosing your fats and oils:

1) How stable is the oil? Does it go rancid easily (how sensitive to light, air, and heat is it)? For this question, most likely you will have to know if it is saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated. Saturated fats are much more stable and better for cooking (Butter, tallow, coconut oil, palm oil), but several monounsaturated fats are good for moderate heat as well (olive oil, avocado oil).

2) What is the smoke point? The smoke point is just like it sounds… the point at which the fats begins to burn and smoke and breakdown. Many times producers will list the smoke point on the oil, but you can definitely tell when you are using them at home. In order to raise smoke points, producers have to heavily refine oils (which then make it an unhealthy product), so look for oils that are able to tolerate high heat naturally (avocado, ghee, or tallow).

3) How processed is the oil? Is it cold pressed, heated, or were chemical solvents used? For example, with olive oil, the best quality oils are first cold pressed or “extra virgin”. The terms “cold pressed” can sometimes be loosely used, so it is good to look up the producer.

4) What and where does it come from? For example, Canola is the name given to a breed (cultivar) from the rapeseed plant, which had too much erucic acid and thus a hybrid was needed in order for the oil to be deemed fit for human consumption, and so here comes Canola oil (Canadian Oil Low Acid).

Most people I know do not get enough saturated fats in their diet. Changing the fats and oils you cook with greatly affects the health of your food (fat soluble vitamins) but also the health and processes of your body. Saturated fats make the use of essential fatty acids (like omega-3) more efficient in the body and thereby you need less. Most people receive far too much omega-6 in their diet and too little omega-3. Also, because saturated fats are short chain or medium chain fatty acids, they are used for energy and burned much quicker in the body, where as longer chain fatty acids are more likely to contribute to the buildup of body fat.

Typically for baking I will use butter or coconut oil. For saut√©ing I will use olive oil, butter, or coconut oil. I like avocado oil, but I haven’t really used it that much. I would definitely like to experiment more with tallow, palm, and avocado oil. I realize for many people it is hard to find high quality sources, like raw butter or organic butter, but usually you can find it at health food stores or through a local farmer or coop.

On the other hand, I avoid pretty much all vegetable oils. When out and about it is almost impossible to avoid them since they are in chips that I am going to dip into my guacamole (unless I make my own chips) and maybe, perhaps I just want a slice of whole foods pizza and I am thinking “why O why would you not just use olive oil in your crust instead of canola oil?”. Money. … So I cheat too.

Good luck with your fat : )





Foods For Weight Loss – Part 1

Monday, February 9th, 2009

A couple of blogs ago I mentioned that I was going to start a series with regard to foods for weight loss. Well here it is. I have given it some thought and decided that 1. I want to start with some foods that you SHOULD be eating if you are serious about eating the right foods for weight loss and 2. I didn’t want to limit any post to a certain format but would just keep adding parts… after all this is not a book, it’s a blog. I will provide links though to all of the parts. Also, I wanted to mention that the series will not only be about losing weight… but more about losing weight from fat, since you can gain good weight from muscle. Now, on we go with part 1.

One of the first things I want to touch on is something I mentioned in that earlier post, and that is CLA. CLA stands for Conjugated Linoleic Acid. After seeing “linoleic” many of you may realize that CLA is a fatty acid. It is found mainly in meat and dairy products from animals that graze. So if the animals do not graze then the amounts are greatly diminished.

CLA is not only an anti-carcinogen (cancer fighting compound) but it also reduces body-fat. I believe it reduces body fat by accelerating the metabolism as well as slowing the body’s conversion of dietary fats into body fat. Animals that graze on grass are leaner and healthier than animals that are grain-fed. The effect is the same on your body when you eat from grass-fed sources. You become leaner and healthier.¬†

It is most important to note that you should not take a CLA supplement. You should obtain it in whole food form from grass-fed meat and dairy products. As I mentioned in an earlier post, grass-fed lamb is an excellent source of CLA. Also, there are non meat sources like whole raw milk from grass-fed cows or goats. Raw milk cheeses like parmesan and eggs can also be good sources of CLA.

Before I move on, I want to first point out one of the keys to losing weight from fat: You need to eat good fat to lose fat. Do not subscribe to the unhealthy lowfat diet. Certain fats are excellent for you and your body needs fat to survive. All fats are not created equal. Just the fact that I am even discussing it shows how far astray our culture has gone in the United States with regard to food.

One of the healthiest fats that you can consume is unrefined extra virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is a saturated fat that is stable even when cooked with high heat. It does not go rancid easily like so many vegetable oils and has an excellent shelf life. It also is burned very easily by the body due to its medium chain fatty acid makeup. It also contains lauric acid which is anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial. Do I need to repeat that? It is anti-viral! You know how you get sick from the common cold and it is cause by a virus (most of the time). Well, ahem, coconut oil is anti-viral. Point made. It also speeds up the metabolism and is good for digestion. So you can look around but it doesn’t matter if you look at avacodo oil, grapeseed, walnut, olive, palm, peanut, sesame, flax, or any other oil… none of them pack as many benefits into one as does coconut oil.

Having said the above, certainly there are other good cooking oils and fats you can use. Butter from grass-fed cows is not only a great source of CLA but is also an excellent fat that is easily metabolised. If the butter is clarified (the milk solids taken out) it is even better for high heat cooking (since the milk burns at lower temperatures). This is also called ghee.

 Olive oil is another excellent oil. It is a classic oil, used by mediterranean cultures for thousands of years, that has excellent health benefits. One may be more prone to gain weight with excessive use, however it is extremely healthy for the heart and has a high concentration of antioxidants.

Now I am going to tell you one of the most powerful fats for losing fat. Are you ready? Ok, here it is: Omega-3 fatty acids. Most people do not get near enough omega-3 fatty acids and get far too much omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3’s help your blood circulate and decreases the blood insulin level. High insulin levels not only promotes the storing of excess fat but also negatively affects the lipase enzyme in your blood (lipase is the enzyme that helps to metabolize fat).

By adding these fats to your weight loss plan you will see tremendous differences over time. They must be a part of the rest of your plan though. So to summarize:

INCLUDE:

1. Omega-3’s (naturally occurring, one of the best sources is sardines, then salmon, then other fish)

2. CLA (naturally occuring from animals that graze on grass, minimally processed meat and dairy products)

3. Cooking with coconut oil, olive oil, and butter. Occasionally using avacado oil, sesame seed, flax, walnut, etc.

AVOID:

Vegetable oils like:

1. Canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and rapeseed oil.

2. Heavily processed, refined, deodorized, bleached oils (they will not say but you can tell if you know what to look for, also, the ones that are not refined will say “unrefined” and “extra-virgin” and “unbleached”, etc)

Lastly, I want to mention that when oils are oxidized they become dangerous for plaque buildup Рarterial build-up that can cause heart-attacks and heart disease. Remember that Рoxidized. So many oils oxidize with heat, oxygen, and light. Such is the case with vegetable oils and even good oils like avacado oil can rapidly oxidize when too high of heat is used in cooking with it. Olive oil even goes bad over time or when used with too high of heat. 

Just look at the trend of heart attacks and heart disease over the last fifty years and see how drastically it has increased right along with recommendations to switch to margarine and crap like that. At the same time Mediterranean cultures are using olive oil and butter and are not having near the rates of heart attacks and heart disease.

Sorry this was so long… once I get going… shoot. I will be surprised if you actually made it this far. And this is only part 1…. haha. Later this week I will start part two on more foods for weight loss and sooner than you know it you will be a lean, mean, uhuh.

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Foods For Weight Loss – Part 2
Foods For Weight Loss – Part 3
Foods For Weight Loss – Part 4
Foods For Weight Loss – Part 5
Foods For Weight Loss – Part 6