Suggestions on oils and fats
- Both high and low fat diets can be bad (SN 3/20/99 p.181). The key is to avoid bad oils and eat good ones. The tables below give some information about common vegetable sources.
- Unextracted oils are better than extracted ones, probably due in part to longer digestion times to get them out of food. Unrefined are better than refined because minimally processed oils tend to be high in antioxidants. A lot of flavor is a good sign. By far the best seed oils are olive and flaxseed.
- Medium-chain saturated fats, such as coconut oil, are also good.
- Monounsaturated oils are good because they lower only LDL; however, the mono/saturated fat ratio appears more important than total fat.
- Polyunsaturated oils are mixed: Click for bad effects. Certain polyunsaturates are important: the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6.
1. Omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acids: High levels of omega-6 can block omega-3 usage. The charts below have some information on relative amounts in various foods.
2. Omega-3 occurs in three forms ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DFA and EFA. Animals convert ALA to DFA and EFA, but our conversion rate may be inadequate. Thus, it is important to obtain all three. Plants contain ALA. In addition to the food in the charts below, seaweed is another good source of ALA. Cold-water fish (chart) are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, but are low ALA. Fish oil can increase LDL levels, so one might combine it with garlic oil. The Canadian FDA recommends about 1.5 grams/day of omega-3.
Confused by all this? Summarizing good and bad oil recommendations: Get most of your oil from food, not from oil in a bottle. When you do use oil in a bottle, go for the unrefined. Severely limit trans-fats and long chain saturated fats. Limit polyunsaturated fats except for sources high in omega-3. Unfortunately most salad dressings are high in polyunsaturates but not omega-3, unless they are based on olive oil. You can also make a flaxseed shake. Studies indicate that a moderate amount of coconut oil, a natural saturated fat, is beneficial.
See also OILs