FATS and OILS » our philosophy & recommendations
Let's talk fat. It's important to learn about the types of fats out there and become mindful of the quality of sources. This article will outline our take on fats and oils, cover recommendations and sources, and provide recipes.
Functions of Fat in the Body
Despite what many magazine covers and TV commercials will have you believe, fat is actually quite beneficial to us. It's essential for many processes and functions in our bodies and is not to be deathly avoided. Here are just some of its functions: » Provides us with sustained energy. » Helps our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. » Important for brain function and maintenance. » Helps with insulation and protection of our vital organs. » Adds flavour and mouthfeel to foods (okay, so this one isn't a 'function for our body' per se, but still important!).
Types of Fats
1. Saturated Fat
The evidence of adverse effects for saturated fat intake is not as conclusive as we may think. There is considerable controversy over whether or not saturated fat alone actually affects heart health. Some say it does, while others say it does not. There is still clearly much research to be done in this area.
The majority of saturated fat is found in animal products such as dairy products, red meat, and poultry.
Plant-based food sources include palm oil and coconut oil (read more about coconut oil below!).
In view of this controversy, we like to err on the conservative side and recommend limiting saturated fats - consuming it in moderation.
2. Unsaturated Fats
Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats reduces LDL cholesterol and decreases the risk for developing cardiovascular disease. And guess what? Plant-based foods are amazing sources of unsaturated fats! Win-win.
There are two main kinds of unsaturated fats:
- includes omega-9 fatty acids
- Includes omega-3 fatty acids & omega-6 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the proper growth and function of our brain and nervous system.
To learn more about omega-3 and omega-6 fats, read this PUL article!
Sources include: seeds (sunflower, flax), nuts (walnuts, almonds), & avocados.
We want to aim to consume unsaturated fats most often since they have more favourable effects on health.
3. Trans Fats
Very few trans fats are naturally occurring. About 90% are created during a process called hydrogenation, which turns liquid oils into solid fats (1). This method, for example, is used to create margarine, which may seem ironic since margarine was originally developed to be a healthier alternative to butter. Turns out, trans fats produced from this hydrogenation process significantly increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
They can be found in many processed foods such as fried foods and baked goods - added for taste, texture and preservation purposes.
The recommendation is that trans fats should be avoided as much as possible. Be on the look out for ingredient lists including "hydrogenated oils", "partially hydrogenated oils and/or "shortening".
At Pick Up Limes, we always recommend obtaining nutrients from foods first before reaching for supplements and concentrates unless you can't meet your requirements from food alone. The same is true for fats. Consuming fats from whole foods will provide so much more nutrition than the oil itself: fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.
Now, this is not to say you should stay away from oils altogether. They are useful when baking or cooking. Our simple message is that moderation is important. Fats provide 9 kcal per gram as opposed to carbohydrates and protein, which provide 4kcal/g which is why we don't need to eat as much of it overall. Infants and children require more healthy fats in their diet for their growing bodies. Speak to a dietitian or your doctor if you require more information for your child.
Whole Food Sources
+ Avocados + Nuts + Seeds + Nut/Seed Butters (such as peanut butter, almond butter, tahini etc.) + Olives + Coconut (such as coconut meat, coconut milk or dried, shredded coconut flakes)
We've created your go-to list of oils below - download it as a PDF for easy reference. When possible, incorporate flaxseed, hempseed, walnut and canola oil - marked with an (*) - as they have a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Learn why this ratio is important here.
Oil Smoke Points: some oils have higher smoke points, meaning they are appropriate for cooking whereas others have lower smoke points and are better off consumed as is either drizzled over a dish or used for dressings and marinades. Here is a simple guide: