//What’s the Deal with Fats Anyway? A Quick Guide to Monounsaturated Oils

What’s the Deal with Fats Anyway? A Quick Guide to Monounsaturated Oils

When it comes to diets and nutrition, the topic of ‘fats’ is a biggie. Fats are a source of nutrition, and while eating too much of it is extremely harmful and unhealthy, we can’t avoid it all together, and in small amounts it is actually beneficial. Fats have 9 calories for every gram, which is way more than carbs. But we’re here to talk about the good stuff: monounsaturated oils and fats.

Butter Versus Margarine

Recently, enormous propaganda has been generated against eating butter. It has been smeared in the health magazines as a saturated animal fat, one containing that evil substance, cholesterol. Many people are now avoiding it and instead, replacing it with margarine.

This is a major and serious misunderstanding. First of all, margarine is almost indigestible, chemically very much like shortening – an artificially saturated or hydrogenated vegetable fat. Hydrogenated fats can’t be properly broken down by the body’s digestive enzymes, adding to the body’s toxic load. Margarine, being a chemically-treated vegetable oil with artificial yellow color and artificial flavorings to make it seem like butter, also releases free radicals in the body that accelerate aging. So, to avoid the dangers of eating cholesterol-containing butter, people eat something that’s far worse for them.

The reality is, high quality fresh (not rancid) butter in moderate quantities is about the finest fat a person could eat. But high quality butter is almost unobtainable. Avoid butter as much as you possibly can, and try instead to dip your bread in good quality olive oil (YUM). But don’t forget, you’re way better off with butter than you would be with margarine.

Time to Talk about the “D” Word: Dairy

And while we’re on the topic of dairy, speaking of butter, let’s briefly talk about milk. The thing is, the dairy lobby is very powerful in North America. This is why the dairy lobby is also very cozy with the medical profession that constantly bombards us with “drink milk” and “cheese is good for you” propaganda. This isn’t entirely true and many nutritionists and doctors will tell you that animal products (dairy especially) are actually quite unhealthy. But we’ll leave that for another day.

And people naturally like dairy foods. They taste good and are fat-rich with a high satiety value. Dairy makes you feel full for a long time. Dairy is also high in protein; protein is hard to digest and this too keeps one feeling full for a long time. But many people just do not produce the enzymes necessary to digest cow’s milk. Some can digest goat’s milk. Some can’t digest any kind except human breast milk. And some can digest fermented milk products like yogurt and kiefer.

But no one, absolutely no one can fully digest pasteurized cows milk, which is what most people use because they have been made to fear cow-transmitted diseases and/or they are forced to use pasteurized dairy products by health authorities. So that was a little bit about milk since we were talking about dairy. Now, back to the fats. What does all this mean? That we can’t have any fats?

The Truth about Fats

In general, fats are poor foods that should be avoided. Their ratio of nutrition to calories is absolutely the worst of all food types, except perhaps for pure white sugar, which is all calories and absolutely no nutrition (this is also true for other forms of sugar. Honey, too, contains almost no nutrition).

The perverse reason people like to eat fats is that they are very hard to digest and greatly slow the digestive action of the stomach. Another way of saying that is that they have a very high satiety value. Fats make a person feel full for a long time because their presence in the stomach makes it churn and churn and churn. Fats coat proteins and starches and delays their digestion, often causing them to begin fermenting (starches) or putrefying (proteins) in the digestive tract.

The best fats contain high levels of monounsaturated vegetable oils that have never been exposed to heat or chemicals – like virgin olive oil. Monounsaturated oils and fats also have far less tendency to go rancid than any other type. Vegetable oils with high proportions of unsaturated fats, go rancid rapidly upon very brief exposure to air. The danger here is that rancidity in vegetable oil is virtually unnoticeable. Rancid animal fat on the other hand, smells “off.” Eating rancid oil is a sure-fire way to accelerate aging, invite degenerative conditions in general, and enhance the likelihood of cancer. It’s highly recommended that you use only high-quality virgin olive oil.

The Good Fat: Monounsaturated Oils

These fats can have a beneficial effect on your heart. This doesn’t mean go all out, but in moderation and used to replace saturated and trans fat, monounsaturated oils are a win.

And you may be wondering where we find them? Examples of monounsaturated oils and fats include plant-based oils such as:

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Safflower oil and
  • Sesame oil

Other (delicious) sources include avocados, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds. So if you’re going to get the fats, get them from the right source.

Tips: Buy Small Bottles and Keep it ‘Cool’

When you buy vegetable oil, even olive oil, get small bottles so you use them up before the oil has much time being exposed to air (as you use the oil air fills the bottle) or, if you buy olive oil in a large can to save money, immediately upon opening it, transfer the oil to pint jars filled to the very brim to exclude virtually all air, and seal the jars securely. In either case, keep now-opened, in-use small bottles of oil in the refrigerator because rancidity is simply the combination of oil with oxygen from the air and this chemical reaction is accelerated at warmer temperatures and slowed greatly at cold ones.

Chemical reactions typically double in speed with every 10 degrees C. increase in temperature. So oil goes rancid about six times faster at normal room temperature than it does in the fridge. If you’ll think about the implications of this data you’ll be a lot more careful about fried foods.

There you have it. Got any questions? Comment below and ask away.

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By | 2017-08-11T12:03:57+00:00 March 9th, 2016|Categories: Health and Nutrition|Tags: , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Zahra Khosroshahi

Zahra is a Ph.D. student at the University of East Anglia (UEA), looking at the representation of women in contemporary Iranian cinema. When she’s not consumed by films, she likes to write about environmental and health issues. It all started with their family business www.LivingLifeNatural.com where her research turned into a lifelong passion and mission. Zahra believes that we all need to take better care of our shared and only home. To get to know her better, check out her Instagram @zahra_livinglifenatural.