When we think of “fats and oils”, we often associate them with problems such as weight gain and bad heart health. Other misconceptions include conflating the two: ”fats and oils difference” is a popular Google search.
However, fats and oils are actually incredibly important in maintaining bodily health and moderating ageing! And just like any other nutrient, they should be consumed in a healthy and balanced way.
To understand this, let’s look at how fats and oils function and what they are.
What are fats and oils?
Chemically speaking, fats and oils are a type of lipid, organic compounds that do not dissolve in water (which is why oil never mixes with water!). Edible fats and oils are often referred to as “triglycerides”, stored away by the human body as an energy reserve. This means that fats and oils are actually a very important source of energy for the body!
Although the two terms are interchangeable, there are some slight differences. Fats are solid at room temperature, while oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Solid fat products include butter, milk and cheese, while oil products include olive and palm oils.
There are several types of fats and oils:
- Saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature (and are the first thing that come to mind when we talk about “fats” in the layman sense). They’re mostly found in animal foods, especially red meat, as well as products like margarine and shortening.
- Unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature (and are the first thing that come to mind when we talk about “oils” in the layman sense). Typically, they originate from plants and some types of seafood (especially salmon and trout)!
- Trans fats, also known as “hydrogenated fats”, are processed fats (through a process known as hydrogenation) meant to increase the shelf life of a product.
What fats and oils are healthy for me?
Fats and oils not only provide energy, but they can also be used to calm inflammation in the body caused by our diets! According to Author Nicholas Perricone, MD, and other researchers, inflammation may lead to premature aging/ degenerative diseases. Hence, choosing the right fats and oils are essential to reducing internal inflammation.
For starters, ditch the trans fats. Man-made trans fats are highly hazardous: they raise bad cholesterol levels significantly, damage the inner lining of your blood vessels and hence increase your risk of heart attack. In fact, they’re so dangerous that it’s banned in countries like Canada, and the American Heart Association cautions against it entirely! Foods with trans fats include:
- Margarine/ buttery spreads
- Corn oil
- Vegetable oil
- Soybean oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Sunflower oil
- Shortening made from one or more of the above-listed ‘’ditch’’ oils
On top of that, eat more naturally occurring, minimally processed fats. Unsaturated fats, in particular, are good for you, but do pay attention to the source of these unsaturated fats—organic, extra-virgin, unrefined and cold-pressed oils contain the healthiest types of unsaturated fats for the human body.
The table below gives you a good idea of food sources that contain the healthiest types of saturated and unsaturated fats.
Contrary to popular belief, saturated fat is not entirely bad for you! In fact, medical studies have shown that saturated fats from foods like coconut oil actually increase the amount of good cholesterol, known as HDL, in your body. This type of cholesterol helps remove unhealthy cholesterol types from your bloodstream, has anti-inflammatory benefits and even lowers your risk of heart disease! The key is to eat in moderation and be aware of what goes into your body.
On that note, do not consume damaged fats! Unsaturated fats (usual oils) are easily damaged by heat and become trans fats in the process—bringing with it all the risks and dangers of trans fats.
Figuring out what’s good for you…
Figuring out your exact nutritional intakes can be a daunting and frustrating process, especially with so many statistics. This is no different with fats and oils.
One tip is to always read the nutrition labels on products. These labels provide precise information on the types, amounts and proportions of fats and oils in the food, which is important for planning your diet and knowing what types of foods to avoid.
As mentioned in the first article, good nutrition is key to reducing biomechanical stress and accelerating musculoskeletal recovery. In the final part of this series, we’ll be looking at omega-3 and probiotics.
So, if you ever find yourself in need of nutritional advice for your chiropractic issues, or have any general questions, give us a call at 62084669 or drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org!