One of the most controversial foods in the world of health are vegetables oils.
We’ve been led to believe, over the past 40 years, that vegetable oils are far more beneficial for you than the likes of artery clogging butter and cream.
But did you know that there is actually no science to back this up?
Vegetable oils are those extracted from seeds such as rapeseed, sunflower, corn, soy and can be found in liquid form for cooking or in solid margarine tubs for spreading.
Over a century ago, these fats were not around, simply because we didn’t have the chemical process that allowed them to be extracted.
So, whilst we consider these oils to be ‘natural’ even dare I say, ‘healthy’, there is actually nothing natural about them.
Let’s understand why.
To make rapeseed oil (aka Canola oil), the seeds are first heated to a high temperature along with a solvent to extract the oil. The oil is then heated again, but this time with an acid which removes any waxy residue. Then chemicals are used to make it smell and look more appealing.
Margarine is dyed yellow to look like butter!
When it’s to be transformed into a spreadable margarine, the liquid oil is hydrogenated and trans-fats are formed.
You may have heard of the term trans-fats.
They are the most dangerous source of fat known to man.
Research has shown that they raise cholesterol, and therefore increase the chances of developing Heart disease, Liver dysfunction, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
There’s also associations being found between trans-fat consumption and infertility.
Trans-fats are also hypothesised to contribute to certain cancers including ovarian and colon.
Basically, they are bad news.
Exerts have urged the government to ban trans-fats.
They calculate it would save thousands of lives, and millions for the NHS.
But unlike other countries – Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and certain US states, including New York and California, the UK, are slow to make this move.
So, instead, it’s down to us to wise up and educate ourselves.
Foods that contain trans-fats.
Foods that contain trans fats are typically refined carb based foods that have a short shelf life. Adding these man-made fats stops them going off so quickly, so they can stay on the shelf for longer.
These might include – cakes, doughnuts, biscuits, pastries, ice cream, pizza, bread.
Any processed food really.
Beware of the bakery section at the supermarket
Food made on the premises , E.g. ‘fast food’ at your local takeaway or restaurant and ‘freshly cooked foods’ in the bakery section of supermarkets, don’t need an ingredients list, so you may be eating trans fats without realising.
If you’ve read my post on supermarket bread, you’ll know that since 1961 80% of our bread has been made by a process called ‘activated dough development’, which turns flour to soft fluffy bread in under three hours.
The problem with this is that the method, which originated in Chorleywood Bakery, uses a chemical concoction of additives and fats.
Trans fats are used to extend the shelf life from days to weeks. Not like your holiday baguette from the French bakery which is rock solid by the next morning.
Fortunately, trans fats are now slowly being phased out and replaced by fractional fats . Which are meant to be less harmful, but we’ll see.
The big human experiment continues.
Before the early 1940’s people consumed natural fats, such as butter, lard and cream.
In other countries olive oil and coconut oil were staples.
Then somewhere in the 50’s, health experts began telling people that vegetable oils were better than saturated fats. Commercial food companies seized the opportunity to market their products as a healthy alternative.
Like suckers, we believed them.
With the demonization of butter everyone moved to sunflower margarine. It was cheaper and supposedly healthier.
Food chains started using it for cooking and frying.
Being born in the 70’s meant that I grew up with Flora Margarine. I can still remember the disgusting taste, I used to hate the way it didn’t melt properly on toast.
It’s not a coincidence that these companies are moving their products back to butter.
It’s important to remember that our bodies don’t need and shouldn’t have to deal with man made fats. But it does need fat to function.
Fat is needed for a wide range of metabolic processes too large to list here.
But to briefly summarise…
- We need fat for proper hormone production
- We need fat to build new cells
- We need fat for our brain and nerves to function
- We need fat to transport various vitamins
- We need fat for healthy hair and skin
The problem with polyunsaturated fats is that they oxidize easily in the body. Oxidized fats cause inflammation, which is the driver for disease – including – clogged arteries, arthritis, inflammatory skin problems, infertility, and cell mutation – leading to cancer!
They can also be very damaging to the developing bodies of children.
Our body contains almost pure saturated and monounsaturated fats. So, it doesn’t make sense that we’re eating these man-made fats.
Basically, forget the marketing spin you’ve been sold, do your body a favour and avoid, avoid, avoid!
When I was diagnosed as clinically obese at the age of 11, I was put on a strict low-fat diet.
My butter was taken away from me and replaced with Flora margarine, and I was given skimmed milk instead of full fat. Mum started using sunflower oil instead of lard, and …..
Did I lose any weight? NO!
Did I feel miserable and hungry? YES.
These changes made absolutely no difference to the scales, but they made food taste bland and unsatisfying.
Just for comparison, I’ve being doing a month of Keto where you eat a whopping 70% of calories from fat.
I’ve had coconut oil in my morning coffee, eggs most days.
Fatty fish, fresh nuts and seeds
Butter on my veg. Natural full fat yogurt.
Avocado and salmon salads with olive oil.
Low Fat Vs High Fat?
In less than a month, I’ve dropped the Christmas kilo’s without even trying and had more physical and mental energy than I had at age 10. I’ll be discussing the pro’s and con’s of diets on the blog very soon.
Now, I’m not suggesting we all go keto. I’m simply making a point. We’ve demonised fat to the point where we’ve lost touch with real food.
It’s like one of my readers said….
I’m starting to think that we need to unlearn everything we’ve been taught about what a healthy diet is from the media and really think it through ourselves.Sarah S
HEADS UP – it’s man messing around with our food that’s doing the damage.
We can’t cheat nature!
So, what should you be looking out for?
|Oils to Avoid||Products to be aware of – READ LABELS|
|Rapeseed Oil (aka Canola oil)||Mayonnaise|
|Palm or Vegetable oil & shortening||Salad dressings|
|Corn oil||Jarred sauces – ketchup, mustard|
|Peanut oil||Tartar, Hollandaise, Bearnaise sauce|
|Cottonseed oil||Fake ‘vegan’ cheese and other substitutes|
|Soya bean oil||Processed /packaged / frozen fast foods|
|Margarines that aren’t butter||Roasted nuts|
|Safflower oil||Ready made cakes, biscuits & crackers|
1. Coconut Oil
This is the superstar of fats and healthy oils.
Since our bodies are made up of mostly saturated fats, it’s no wonder that coconut oil is so favoured by our bodies; it’s made up of 96 percent saturated fat!
This oil does not oxidize easily and can be used safely in high temperature cooking. Great for popping popcorn!!
Studies show that including coconut oil in your diet helps you lose weight because it boosts metabolism and decreases appetite. I blend a spoon into my morning coffee and will often then exercise before I eat around 10am.
Meat gets a bad reputation, but when animals are raised correctly, they are a terrific source of healthy, saturated fats. Get to know your famer and if you can, buy grass fed, free range, organic meat. Lower quantity / better quality.
You are what you eat EATs!Michael Pollan
In other word’s the food that your meat is fed on, and the way they are grazed affects the quality of their meat and fat content.
Like meat, eggs from free range, organic chickens have more omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic caged bird eggs. The vibrant colour of the orange yolk is a good indicator of healthy fat.
Everyone knows that fish is healthy. Especially cold water fish, such as salmon and sardines, which are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Look for wild caught sustainable fish whenever possible.
5. Butter, Ghee and Full fat Natural Yoghurt
Is there anything more delicious than real butter?
However, whilst I prefer it to vegetable oils, I know many people do not tolerate dairy well, including my family – I talk about why this is here.
For that reason, we don’t eat a lot. But when we do, we opt for live full fat natural goat yoghurt, butter and cheese – which is delicious and more easily digested.
6. Avocados and Avocado Oil
Avocadoes are high in monounsaturated fats and taste good in salads, sandwiches and our favourite – tacos with guacamole!! The oil makes a delicious salad dressing.
7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This healthy Mediterranean favourite is high in monounsaturated fats, but low in polyunsaturated fats, perfectly suited for salad dressings, sauces, and your own homemade mayonnaise.
Don’t use this for high temperature cooking as it can oxidize at high temperatures. I use a technique called ‘steam frying’ which stops the fats spoiling.
Eating these fats has contributed to me solving my weight and skin problems and feeling fitter in my mid-forties than I did in my teens. What adjustments have you made that made you feel good?
What do you think of this post? I’d love to hear.