The Ten Week Challenge Syllabus

I walked people through a ten week challenge, using the following syllabus.

Week 1 - Sugar-free
Week 2 - Whole grains
Week 3 - Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats
Week 4 - Raw dairy
Week 5 - The microwave
Week 6 - Fats and oils
Week 7 - Cultured and fermented foods
Week 8 - Local and organic produce
Week 9 - Processed foods
Week 10 - Implementing lifestyle changes

Visit my Recipe Index over at Going Green in a Pink World.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Three Types of Fats

You've heard all the hype about the "good" fats, like those found in nuts, avocados, and olive oil. Well, I'd like to give you a brief run-down of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. My own diet consists of mostly saturated fats, including coconut oil, butter, and animal fats, with some monounsaturated fats in the form of nuts and olive oil salad dressings, and zero unnatural polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated Fats

Common Types:Animal fats and tropical oils (palm, coconut)

Uses: Baking, sauteing, and topically

Structure:Stable, and solid, making them useful for high temperature cooking

Health Benefits: Numerous; Good for chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, mood swings, thyroid imbalance, food cravings, gallbladder ailments, bacterial infections, fungal issues, digestive problems, gas and bloating, skin problems (eczema), wrinkles, dandruff, protects liver against toxins, like tylenol...

Drawbacks: They've been vilified by the media and the FDA for decades.

Notes: Fifty percent of our cell membranes are made of saturated fat. Because of their solid nature, they give stiffness and integrity to our cells, and some say even prevent saggy, wrinkly skin. Dr. Mary Enig even recommends including coconut oil in the diet to combat cellulite! An article in the Food Lipids and Bone Health journal claims that in order for calcium to be properly assimilated into our bones, our diet should consist of 50% saturated fat.

Monosaturated Fats

Common Types: Olive oil, sesame oil, nuts, avocados

Uses: Baking, stir frying, snacking and topically

Structure:Liquid at room temperature, solid when refrigerated

Health Benefits:Antioxidant rich, protects against cancer, contributes to healthy hair and skin

Drawbacks: You want to make sure that you're not heating the oils past their smoking point (which varies depending on how it's been processed). Once an oil is heated to its smoking point, the composition of the oil breaks down, leaving you with free radicals - the very thing you were hoping your anti-oxidant rich oil was protecting you against!! Because of this, I try to only use olive oil for stir frying and light sauteing. Check out this chart for a full list of smoking points.

If you use a lot of olive oil, it's important to understand the various terms:
* Extra-virgin: derived from the first pressing of the olives (has the most delicate flavor).
* Fine virgin: created from the second pressing of the olives.
* Refined oil: unlike extra-virgin and fine virgin olive oils, which only use mechanical means to press the oil, refined oil is created by using chemicals to extract the oil from the olives.
* Pure oil: a bit of a misnomer, it indicates oil that is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. (WHFoods)

Polyunsaturated Fats

Common Types:Industrial processed oils, such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower, and vegetable; also, small amounts are found naturally in legumes, grains, nuts, green vegetables, fish, olive oil and animal fats

Uses: Stay away from unnatural sources of polyunsaturated fats if at all possible


Health Benefits: ?? None that I can come up with.

Drawbacks: According to Dr. Mary Enig's well-researched article on fats,
"Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including increased cancer and heart disease; immune system dysfunction; damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs; digestive disorders; depressed learning ability; impaired growth; and weight gain."

The main issue with these fats is that free radicals are formed in the high temperature, high pressure processing, which leads to a host of issues as mentioned above. I recently looked at a bottle of Canola oil and was shocked to see that it was touting itself as "heart healthy" and "rich in Vitamin E". Perhaps it was rich in vitamin E at one point, but the processing renders these benefits unavailable to us. If that weren't reason enough, how about the hexane they use to extract the pulp from the seeds? Although most of it burns off, 100 parts per million can still remain. Eek! Just goes to show that money talks, and usually, it's not saying anything good...

For more information on Canola oil, check out this article. Enjoy your fats!

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