Let's talk about which types of fats are deadly and which ones are essential to our health and most importantly what RATIO of these fats should we consume?! I have also added some tip on how to select the best fish, oil and nuts in the market!
Types of fat:
Saturated Fat: Usually solid in room temperature. They have a straight molecular structure and are found mostly in animal products like meat and poultry.
Monounsaturated Fats: Almost all seed oils and olive oils are examples are monounsaturated fats. They have on carbon double bound in their structure, are bent and are usually liquid in room temperature.
Polyunsaturated Fats: Divided into two major groups of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids. They have 2 or more carbon double bonds in their molecules and include some of the healthiest fats that are essential to our health. We will get deeper into these fatty acids in this article!
Trans-fats: These types of fat are the unhealthiest type. They occur both naturally and in processed oils. The natural type of these fats are usually attached to saturated fats found in dairy and animal product and the unnatural ones are made during the process of hydrogenation or extraction of oils in factories. They are the reason processed vegetable oils are considered to be some of the unhealthiest forms of fat! They also include one carbon double bond in their molecular shape but they get so saturated with Hydrogen that they form a straight shape and they cause your LDL (i.e. bad cholesterol) levels to go up!
Saturated and monounsaturated fats are usually used as energy provision and polyunsaturated fats are mostly used for hormone like functions like controlling blood pressure, metabolic functions, controlling inflammation and blood clotting.
How much of each fat do we need?
Omega 6 and Omega 3
There are 2 main kinds of Polyunsaturated fats: Omega 6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) and Omega 3 fatty acids (linolenic acids) .
Omega 6 fatty acids
are responsible for transforming the fat in your food through your liver and transforming it into energy. Here is a list of all the foods that contain Omega 6 fatty acids. As you can see omega 6 is very common in most of the foods we eat and it is rare for somebody living in North America to be deficient in it.
Omega 3 fatty acids
are responsible for collecting the fat left over from your arteries. Without omega 3, excess fat in your food will be deposited in your arteries. This will out your heart heath at risk! Therefore we need a good balance of these two. 4:1 ratio to be specific for the fat to be digested and cleaned up from your system efficiently. Here is a list of all the food that contains omega 3 in them.
Most Americans are deficient in Omega 3
Tips on buying fish
Cold water fishes like salmon, tuna and sardines are high in omega 3s. When shopping, please keep a few things in mind:
I like salmon and I found out that farmed salmon are much more fattier and contain 25% more omega 3s but wild caught salmon contains a lot of other healthy minerals and lot less antibiotics and pesticides. Farmed fishes in general are kept in a swimming pool or a closed part of an ocean and they are fattier because they are not able to swim around freely.
Keep in mind they are more pricy (almost double the price!!), however, I believe in eating less but healthier, right? It is recommended to have 2-3 servings of fish per week! You know it’s always best to get all your nutrients from food but if you must you can always use fish oil supplements.
Tips on nuts:
When buying nuts, make sure you buy organic. It is not only healthier and contains less pesticides but it also more environmentally friendly. Walnuts have the best ratio of omega 6 and 3 and in order to make sure you absorb most of its nutrient it is best to soak them over night. Soaking nuts have proved to help maximize the nutrition absorption.
Tips on buying oil:
Most nuts and seed oils are high in monosaturated fat, therefore, are considered to be the healthiest kind. However, their nutritional value it depends on how they are processed. Extracting oil from seeds is a long process that usually involves pressing, heating, hydrogenating, bleaching, and filtering the oil before putting it in a bottle. Through this process, oil will not only lose its healthy omega 3 fatty acids, it will also create some carbon double bond and change its shape to a flat structure and forms TRAN-FATS! For this this reason, you must pay extra attention to labeling when you are purchasing oils, specially seed oils such as canola and grapeseed oil. Look for the word "cold pressed". The cold pressed process is closely monitored and the pressing machines shut down after they heat up to a dangerous temperatures.