6. CHOOSE HIGH QUALITY HIGH FAT DIET
For years, nutritionists (and doctors) have advocated a low-fat diet to stay healthy. Yet the incidences of obesity, heart disease and stroke are on the rise. It is obvious that more than just the amount of fat, it’s the types of fat you eat that really matter.
This may scare you, especially since you have been told to stay away from fats. Therefore, let’s start by understanding why fat is important and learn how to differentiate the good and bad fats.
Fats and oils are absolutely vital for optimum health. Just to list a few of their critical functions:
- They serve as a rich source of energy for the body,
- They insulate body tissues,
- They facilitate the transportation of vitamins A, D, E and K through the blood. Without the fat, your body's absorption of these nutrients are suboptimal
- They provides the essential building blocks for all cells and nerves in the body.
Why is fat important?
Fat's role in the cells membrane
Did you know that the cellular membranes of all our cells are primarily composed of a mix of lipids (fats) and proteins? Phospholipids are the major component and they form double-layered membranes that are called phospholipid bilayers or biphospholipids. The basic functions of the cell membranes are to protect the cells from their surroundings and provide form for the cells. These semi - permeable membranes also allow the passage of essential chemical signals, ions and nerve impulses, necessary for various bodily functions. When the permeability of the cell membranes are destroyed or compromised, various health problems arise. The fats and the oils you consume form the raw materials needed for the formation of the membranes. Therefore, it is important to provide the right fats. The objective is not to avoid fat, but to know how to choose the right fats and oils.
Differences between fats and oils:
- fats are solid at room temperature whereas oils are liquid at room temperature
- fats are more saturated compared to oils
- fats are generally an animal product whereas oils are often a plant derivatives
For the purpose of this guidebook, fats refer to both fats and oils.
Categorization of Fat
The Unsaturated fats and oils differ from each other in their configuration and in their degree of unsaturation; ie monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. All naturally occurring fats are mixtures of saturated fats and unsaturated fats (mono and poly). Refer to table on the right for the fatty acid composition of some fats (Percent of Total Fatty Acids).
S – Saturated Fatty Acid
MUFA – Monounsaturated Fatty Acid,
PUFA – Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid
Source of the chart on the right: www.chartsbin.com
What are good fats/ oils?
These are the unprocessed or minimally processed fats/oils from natural sources of plant or animal origin. They can be saturated, unsaturated or monosaturated such as:
Ö Coconut oil and coconut cream
Ö Palm oil
Ö Olive oil
Ö Fat from organically raised farm animals (eg. chicken, duck, goose, pig, beef)
Ö good old fashion butter and ghee from grass fed cows.
Virgin, cold press or expeller press are the best
For oils of the plant origin, virgin, cold press or expeller press are the best as they still retain their maximum nutritional value due to the gentler extraction processes. The more refining or processes they undergo, the worse they become, to the point of being toxic. Refer to pictures on the below on the extraction of palm oil. The red palm oil is less process and is more nutritious than the refined palm oil. The red colour beta carotene (phytonutrient) is still present in the red palm oil whereas for the refined palm oil, these are being removed.
Red palm oil
Refined palm oil
Olive oil and olive margarine or olive spread
Another example: Virgin olive oil (picture below) is good oil, but olive spread/ margarine is not as it has undergone the ‘hydrogenation’ processes to make it saturated or solid. Olive spread are often mixed with other oil to improve tastes.
Olive margarine/ spread (to be avoided)
as it has trans-fat
Olive oil and olive margarine or olive spread
Another example: Virgin olive oil (picture on top left) is good oil, but olive spread/ margarine is not as it has undergone the ‘hydrogenation’ processes to make it saturated or solid. Olive spread are often mixed with other processed vegetable oil to improve tastes.
Good fats can also turn bad when they are subjected to high temperature and repeated usage. During deep frying at approximately 190 degrees C, the oils thermally and oxidatively decompose, resulting in harmful free radicals and products which altered the nutritional qualities of oils. For this reason, heating oils (for deep frying) beyond their smoke point is never a good idea.
Oil for deep frying: Palm oil, coconut oil, ghee - because they stand up well to the heat.
Caution: We do not recommend deep frying as it encourages oxidation and formation of free radicals and destroy the nutrients in food.
For sautéing or stir frying: All the good oils as above can be used.
Extra virgin olive oil is heat sensitive and is best used in situations where it won't be highly heated such as salad dressings, dipping oils, finishing a dish, etc. For stir fry, use the lighter colour olive oil.
Other sources of good omega 3 fat
- Raw nuts and seeds, such as flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts
- Fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna
- Avocado fruits and oil
- Egg yolks from pastured hens (rich in beneficial omega-3s)
More about oil
Plant oil can be highly processed RBD oil (refined, bleached and deodorized) or the unrefined ‘virgin’ oil.
‘Virgin’ oil or ‘cold pressed oil’ is oil when no chemicals are used during the extraction process (or low heat may be applied). It retains its original nutrient content, flavor and color and as such, has the highest nutritive values. For example, extra virgin olive oil is made simply by crushing olive fruits and extracting the juice — without the use of chemicals and industrial refining. It is fragile and exposure to high temperatures and even light can lead to their deterioration. Hence, use ‘virgin’ oil for salad dressing or very light stir frying.
Does ‘pure’ necessarily means good?
The labels “pure olive oil” or “pure coconut oil” or pure ‘grapeseed oil’ still indicate an RBD production oil — the process that removes most of the flavor, color and nutrients from the oils. Therefore, when purchasing for good fats/ oils, look for ‘virgin’ or ‘cold pressed’ on the labels (this indicates less processing).
Natural Saturated fat in coconut oil vs. margarine/shortening
The fat in coconut oil is more than 90% saturated (butter is about 64%). However it consists of short chain and medium chain fatty acids and are highly nutritious. The saturated fats found in coconut occur naturally, while other saturated fats that have been found in margarine and shortening have been artificially manipulated into a ‘saturated state’ through the man-made process called hydrogenation.
Benefits of coconut oil
More than half of the coconut oil is made up of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs. Coconut oil is nature's richest source of these healthy MCFAs. By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils comprise long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs).
Coconut oil behaves more like carbohydrates than fat, but without the insulin surge – it metabolizes rapidly to yield high levels of energy without affecting insulin level. Since cancer patients need significant amounts of energy but are discouraged from consuming simple sugars as energy, the MCTs solve this problem by supplying the body with the necessary energy without it being converted into sugar.
MCT oils have an anti-tumor effects on several types of cancer. It reduces inflammation and anything that reduces inflammation, reduces cancer growth and spread.
Let’s look at traditional method of extracting coconut oil - this is what makes the oil healthy
The coconut fruit itself is oil rich
The fresh coconut fruits are halved and the flesh grated. The wet grated flesh is then squeezed to express the milk (santan) and then left overnight in a container to separate the oil by allowing the heavier water to sink to the bottom of the container. The top part containing the coconut oil and coconut solids is then scooped out and put into a large "wok," and the oil is gently heated for a short time until the curds fall to the bottom. The oil is constantly stirred so that it does not reach boiling point, but it allows the coconut solids to fall to the bottom. The oil is then filtered and ready to be bottled. The wet-milling process of producing coconut oil, can be done by anyone in their own kitchen. It is the oil used by those in the tropical countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Polynesian Island and Philippines.
What are bad fats?
Bad fats are those that require harsh extraction processes that include bleaching, deodorizing and the highly toxic solvents such as hexane. In addition, high pressure and high temperatures are applied - which destroy the nutrient values of the oil and make them highly unnatural.
What are the fats that are highly processed?
--- ANY RBD oil (refined, bleached and deodorized) such as
* corn oil,
* soya oil,
* canola oil or rapeseed oil
* safflower oil,
* cottonseed oil,
* sunflower oil
--- ANY trans fat, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat/ oil )
* Margarine and shortening
More on Trans fat (hydrogenated fat)
Trans fat (also known as hydrogenated fat) is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature. It is found in a variety of food products, such as:
- baked goods. Most cakes, cookies, biscuits and crackers contain shortening or margarine, which is usually made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
- processed snack foods such as potato, corn and tortilla chips
- fried food. Such as french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken
- coffee Creamer and margarine.
In the United States food that has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat in a serving can be labeled as 0 grams trans fat. This are called ‘hidden trans fat’ and can add up quickly, especially if you eat several servings of multiple foods containing less than 0.5 grams a serving. Therefore, if you want to avoid these unhealthy oils, you must not only read labels! but also be aware of where they may be hiding.
When you check the food label for trans fat, also check the food's ingredient list for presence of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
Why are the above fat bad?
The above oils have been chemically extracted, deodorized and altered. They tend to be ‘seed or vegetable oil’.
In addition to being highly processed, vegetable oils are unhealthy for the following reasons:
- they are high in Omega 6 (also known as Linoleic Acid) which is pro-inflammatory and suppresses the immune system and drives cancer. They cause an imbalance in the Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. Ideally it should range from 1:1 to a max of 1:5. Vegetable oils are the biggest source of Omega-6 fatty acids in the diet. Excessive consumption of Omega 6 can contribute to all sorts of health problems.
- They have a very high level of polyunsaturated fats that oxidize easily - when you cook with polyunsaturated vegetable oils, oxidized cholesterol is introduced into your system.
- They have trans-fats (also called hydrogenated fats), created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid at room temperature and also less likely to spoil. Margarine, shortening and spread have undergone various degree of hydrogenation.
- They contain free radicals, emulsifiers and preservatives such as Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT). These are artificial antioxidants that help prevent food from oxidizing or spoiling too quickly.
- They are highly refined and thus have very little nutrients. The most common way to extract them from their seeds is via harsh chemical processes that involve bleaching, deodorizing and the toxic solvent hexane. Because of this, pretty much all of the vitamins and phyto-nutrients and naturally occurring anti-oxidants are removed from these oils.
- The seeds ( especially corn and soy ) used have been genetically engineered (GMO) to resist the huge amounts of pesticides (glyphosate) applied to them.
Various scientific studies conducted on animals have also shown serious health risks associated with polyunsaturated fats such as:
* Linoleic acid (Omega 6), the major polyunsaturated fatty acid found in vegetable oils, increased the risk of breast tumours1,2.
* Omega-6 fats promote prostate cancer growth3
* Polyunsaturated vegetable oils promote tumor genesis in animals( wild and organic) whereas saturated fats and polyunsaturated fish oils either have little effect or are inhibitory4.
Several lines of evidence have also suggested that vegetable oil consumption can raise the risk of cancer, which makes perfect sense given the fact that they make the cells more susceptible to oxidative damage.
However, for some reason, dietary guidelines still recommend that we consume vegetable oils instead of saturated fats like butter, palm oil and coconut oil, so do be aware of these differences and make an informed choice.
Using fat to overcome cancer
In cancer patients, due to a mitochondrial defect/ dysfunction, the energy metabolism of the cancer cell is almost entirely glucose and an amino acid called glutamine. This knowledge can be used in metabolic therapy by substituting carbohydrate with good fats and oils as energy sources. The popular diets which use this concept are the ketogenic diet and the ‘Budwig Diet’.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate and moderate-protein diet that was first developed in the 1920s at John Hopkins hospital to treat epilepsy. The diet was successful with some of the children where drugs had failed.
Today, the ketogenic principle of coconut oil as the main fat is being used to treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as well as successfully treating cancer.
High quality, high fat diet has also been the basis of another successful cancer therapy - the Budwig protocol. It is based on the fact that the body needs an adequate supply of electron - rich healthy fats for normal functioning of many metabolic processes. By switching to a high quality high fat diet and with carbohydrate caloric restriction, it is possible to metabolically starve cancer cells.
Fat as energy source can also be obtained through increased consumption of virgin coconut oil. Ways to increase the Medium Chain Tryglycerides (MCT) oil consumption are as follows:
Consume it as oil (not more than 2 tablespoon a day), and preferably not on empty stomach
- Use for cooking and as salad dressing,
- Coconut cream can be a substitute for milk in coffee, in curry sauces, for thickening soup and for making smoothies.
Get over your phobia of cholesterol! ( But be very worried about oxidized cholesterol and oxidative stress)
How can people who gorge on food be healthier than we are?
Want to know about a group of people who eat primarily only meat and fat, very little fruits and vegetables and still enjoy good health? Well meet the Inuits from the frozen North. They seemed to eat all the things that are blamed for heart disease and cancers (meat and fat) yet somehow have little to no diseases of modern man.
Irrespective of whether the fat is saturated or unsaturated, the fat is safe and full of nutrient.
Although more than 50 percent of the calories in Inuit native foods come from highly saturated fats, they remain free from heart diseases. Far from being harmful, the saturated fat from the animals sustained and nourish them. The answer is simply good fat free from toxins.
In Summary - “Nature doesn’t make bad fats, factories do!”
There are many healthy fats that our ancestors have been eating for hundreds of years without any problems (ie. before all the “modern” diseases started to explode in the last 50 years).
The fats in their diets are the saturated fats and oils from animals (chicken fat, lard, ghee and fish/seals) and ’fruit’(olive, coconut) oils. These fats are exceptionally healthy oil when consumed in a balanced, real food based diet. Cancer occurrences were extremely rare and vegetable oils were non-existent.
However, in this last century when we switch our oils in favor of the polyunsaturated and processed oils, cancer rates have soared (so are the other metabolic and degenerative diseases). It’s clear that the culprit here is the type of oil consumed.
The polyunsaturated vegetable oil that are flooding our supermarkets are highly refined and processed and have almost no nutritional value.
Our recommendations on fats
To avoid dangerous fats of all kinds, keep these golden rules in mind:
- Eat natural fats and oil and avoid highly processed ones. This formula works because nature doesn’t make bad fat, factories do ~ Catherine Shanahan, MD.
- Eliminate processed foods
- Use organic butter instead of margarines and vegetable oil spreads.
- Replace the polyunsaturated vegetable oils with coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil and ghee
- Use the ‘virgin’ oil for salad dressings—eg. Olive oils, sesame seed oil and grapeseed oil
- Include raw fats, such as those from avocados, raw dairy products, olives and olive oil, and raw nuts and seeds
- Also take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fat
Note that good fats can become bad as result of over exposure to high heat thus it is essential to cook only with fats that are stable and this tends to be saturated fat.
1.Carroll K K. Dietary fats and cancer. American Journal Clinical Nutrition 1991; 53: 1064S.
2.France T, Brown P. Test-tube cancers raise doubts over fats. New Scientist , 7 December 1991, p 12.