Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

There has been quite a drive to reduce the amount of fat we eat in our diet, this has been due to the belief that all fat is bad for our health.

More recently it has been discovered that there are many types of fat, some of these are very bad for us and some of them are really quite good for us, in fact some of these are essential to our diet. One nice simple way for someone like me to understand this is to separate the foods available to us into those that contain mostly good fats and those that contain mostly bad fats.

Good fats generally come under the terms monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, whilst bad fats can usually be found under saturated and trans fats. There are some exceptions to this rule but generally good fats come from plants and fish, whilst bad fats come from animals and the man made products of unscrupulous food manufacturers.

Look out for hydrogenated vegetable oil too. This is vegetable oil that has been through a manufacturing process, which involves firing hydrogen through it. Manufacturers often use this fat due to it’s long shell life, amongst other convenient qualities. However it can be just as harmful as saturated fats to our health. Omega 3 oils have been linked to improved mood and feelings of well being, along with significant increases in brain power.

Good Fats

Vegetable oils have numerous beneficial properties such as being good for the heart, lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of cancers. However they tend to have a shorter shelf life and some, such as flaxseed oil, can go rancid quickly. When they go rancid they develop a bitter taste, they also lose some of there beneficial qualities and take on some harmful properties.

When choosing oils, look for cold pressed oils, sometimes labelled as virgin oils (as with virgin olive oil). This tells us that the oil has not been extracted with the use of solvents or by heating. Both the heat extraction and the solvent extraction techniques are commercially cheaper but degrade the goodness, nutritional quality and taste of the oil.

Good fats for cooking with:

Coconut oil

Rice Bran oil

Safflower oil

Grapeseed oil

Good fats for drizzling and not using in high temperatures:

Olive Oil

Contains omega 3, omega 6, vitamin E, vitamin K, plant sterols, phenols and polyphenols. Extra light olive oil has the higher smoking point amongst olive oils at (242c/468f) whereas some olive oils can be as low as (190 c 374 f).

Rapeseed Oil

Has a higher smoking-point (242C/468 f) than most olive oils, higher omega-3 content and lower saturated fat content. Contains a good ratio of omega 3 and 6, also contains vitamin E and K and beneficial plant sterols and stanols. (British Cold Pressed Organic Rapeseed Oil is amongst the best rapeseed oil in the world).

Walnut oil

Walnut oil provides a great source of Vitamins B1, B2, and B3, along with Vitamin-E and niacin. This oil is lovely drizzled over salads and pasta.

Avocado oil

Avocado oil contains antioxidants such as vitamin E which is believed to reduce coronary artery disease and help the skin. It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that protects the eyes against diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration and that may guard against prostate cancer.

Smoking Points

All oils have a smoking point, some higher, some lower. When they have been heated to smoking point again they take on toxic qualities and become more like harmful trans fats. Many experts say it is best to keep frying to a minimum, if you want to fry use appropriate oils when doing so (ie oils with higher smoking points) to maintain the virtues of the oil. When choosing oils, look for cold pressed oils, sometimes labelled as virgin oils (as with virgin olive oil). This tells us that the oil has not been extracted with the use of solvents or by heating. Cold pressed, virgin oils have been shown to have higher contents of beneficial antioxidants.

Bad Fats

Limiting foods high in saturated fat or avoiding foods containing trans fats will help maintain a healthy lifestyle for your children which will in turn help them in their future.

Fats to avoid or limit consumption of include;

  • Butter, ghee or margarine
  • Animal fats (particularly fats from red meat)
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil

Please note, we are not experts in nutrition or medical professionals. The information on this site is a result of the research we have carried out and from information sourced from reliable sources on the internet and in books.

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