Saturated Fats are Best for Cooking!!

Smart Balance Margarine-  The process used to make a liquid oil opaque yellow and spreadable produces an incredibly unhealthy product that hardly qualifies to be called a food. It doesn’t matter if you start with the best quality extra virgin olive, the final product is still an unhealthy food.

Promoted as a cholesterol free and healthier choice than good old butter, margarine is the ultimate source of trans fats, which rather ironically elevate cholesterol and damage blood vessel walls. Even more ironic is the fact that margarine is still recommended by health authorities including the Australian Heart Foundation who also promote reducing dietary trans fats. Clever loopholes in labelling allow margarines to claim that they are ‘virtually’ trans fat free. Margarine is a good example of a politically correct unhealthy food.

What about the new cholesterol lowering margarines?

Save your money, you’ll be getting a dose of the very same phyto sterols by using extra virgin olive oil liberally in your diet. Most fruits and vegetables also contain phyto sterols.

coconut on the leaf Saturated fat- coconut oil, organic butter, lard. When cooking with heat, saturated fats are the safest and healthiest to use. NONE of the atoms of carbon in their carbon-chain share multiple bonds. They are thus more stable and don’t oxidize as readily. Examples of foods containing a greater proportion of saturated fats include coconut oil, butter, ghee, tallow, and suet.

Monounsaturated fats have ONE (hence the prefix “mono”) pair of carbon atoms in their carbon-chain which share two bonds. This makes them more reactive than saturated fats, since the redundant extra atomic bond can be grabbed by something else, such as oxygen, turning the oil rancid, or oxidizing it. This happens more easily under the influence of heat and light. Although the use of saturated fats for frying is much safer and healthier, at a pinch monounsaturated fats would be the only other fat type I would use, and then only for light (pan) frying for a single dish (no second frying with the same oil). Foods with a large quantity of monounsaturated fat include olive oil, and lard (which has a high saturated fat content too). Good olive oil should come in a dark glass bottle, to protect the oil from light, and so that plastic molecules don’t leach in.

Polyunsaturated fats have MORE THAN ONE (hence the prefix “poly”) pair of carbon atoms in their carbon-chain which each share two bonds. They may have two, three, or more such double-bond pairs. This makes them extremely reactive to light and heat, and they oxidize very readily. 

Free radiButtercals, anyone?  The widespread use of polyunsaturated oils are the main reason behind the subtle shift towards promoting monounsaturated olive oil, and encouraging people to eat foods rich in anti-oxidants. Polyunsaturated oils include sunflower oil. You should NOT expose it to heat, as by doing so you are damaging it further and creating additional free radicals. I say “further” and “additional”, as the oil is usually exposed to heat as part of factory processing, and usually sits in a brightly lit shop in a clear plastic bottle prior to sale. As a bonus to the oxidizing oil, in it you also receive tiny amounts of molecules of the degassing plastic (but that’s another story). Polyunsaturated vegetable oils are also high in Omega-6 essential fatty acids, which can throw your Omega 3 to Omega 6 balance out of whack, which isn’t good. Now don’t write off all polyunsaturated oils. Some polyunsaturated oils are high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids, necessary for proper brain function. These important polyunsaturates come from fish oils (cod-liver oil is particularly good), and from the flax plant (flaxseed or linseed oil). Good health food shops know just how fragile these important polyunsaturated oils are, and sell them in dark glass or even metal bottles to exclude light, and store them in a refrigerator to prevent the oil being affected by heat. The better brands will confirm that heat was excluded from all stages of processing.

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