Did You Have Your Oil Today?
GOOD FATS / BAD FATS
By Dr. David Nelson

 

 

Fats and oils are probably the most misunderstood and abused foods that are eaten. Next to water, fat comprises a large percentage of our body’s composition. We all have in common the need for protein, fats and carbohydrates and all the nutrients and vitamins necessary daily to maintain a healthy body. We are all uniquely individual in the processing of these foods and, therefore the requirements do vary from individual to individual.

All of our organs and tissues require protein, carbohydrates and fats to complete all the cellular chemical functions for life. The fats in our organs and tissues play an equal role, as does protein and carbohydrates. The one major problem that exists in our diets is we don’t get enough of the good fats and we get too much of the bad fats.

All plants contain oils and fatty acids. All natural foods contain a portion of these rich fatty acids, while the processed foods contain hidden fats, sugars, starches and salt unnatural to nature’s compounds. These fatty acids and oils help provide energy in the body, regulate many body processes and act as anti-inflammatory agents. They also reduce the time required for recovery of fatigued muscles after exercising. These oils help carry out toxins from bodies and help prevent sunburn from ultraviolet radiation. Mineral and nutrients are transported in the body by fatty acids and oils.

In order to understand the difference between good fats and bad fats, we need to analyze what a fat is and how it is used in the body.

Fatty acids are members of several different families. For example, a molecule of any solid fat or liquid oil is always made up of one molecule of glyceral, to which three fatty acid molecules are attached. They are the key building blocks of all fats and oils, both in our foods and in our bodies. Fatty acids are the main components in triglycerides carried in the bloodstream. They are also the main components of fats stored in our fat cells, which are sources of stored energy.

Fats and fatty acids are the main components of membranes that surround all cells. They play key roles in the maintenance and construction of all healthy cells. Fats and fatty acids under our skin, and around our organs, provide insulation and absorb shock.

These fats and oils come in forms of saturated, polyunsaturated and hydrogenated.

An example of saturated oils and fats are animal fats such as butter and lard, while a hydrogenated oil is a vegetable oil that has been heated and processed, like margarine. The controversy over margarine versus butter is a continued debate. The heated oils such as margarine are linked to heart disease. The hydrogenated fats produce toxic-free radicals that are contributing factors in all degenerative diseases. They also increase the likelihood of clots in the blood vessels by causing the platelets to be more sticky, causing strokes and heart attacks, or circulatory problems in other organs, such as lungs and extremities.

Even though butter and margarine are both saturated, butter contains approximately 500 different good fatty acids, while margarine, made synthetically and heated, could actually be dangerous. In some individuals, if other fat levels are unbalanced, those increased levels of hydrogenated oils also increase LDL or bad cholesterol, which may affect the narrowing of blood vessels, liver disease and gallbladder problems, which in turn can increase susceptibility to microorganisms and parasites. An increase in these fats can elevate obesity.

Unsaturated fatty acids are oils that are liquid at room temperature and have not been heated or processed like saturated or hydrogenated oils.

The properties of unsaturated fat-ty acids help provide fluidity needed in cell membranes. This fluidity allows molecules within our membranes the freedom to swim and make contacts with one another to help in chemical and transport type functions. These oils are the good oils that are considered the staff of life, which we need on a daily basis. Oils are fats found in seeds of most plants which serve as high energy for the plant. They are nutrient rich in the ability to carry nutrients throughout the plants and into the cellular structures. This is also prevalent in humans. These oils and good fats act as carriers which move nutrients to the body cells. Oils found in plants are very rich and dense and provide the best source of essential fatty acids. Some of the richest oils are flax, soybean, pumpkin and walnut oils. These oils are the Omega-6 (linoleic) acids, which are primarily warm-weather seeds and nuts. Other Omega-6 oils include safflower, sunflower and sesame oils. These are vital to cellular function of all tissues, organs and membranes. They help in recovery from fatigue, and the balancing of prostaglandins for hormones and the energy function. These essential fatty acids help in growth and all functions and fat-burning in weight loss. Brain function and development are dependent upon the essential acids.

he best oils are unrefined and taste like the seed from which they were extracted, without solvents.

Flax oil provides the best therapeutic oils for people who want Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils because it contains the largest amount of linoleic acids (LNA) which help to break up and dispense deposits of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol.

Soybean oil is a high quality oil and very tasty. It provides an excellent source of EFA’s, phytosterols and lecithin.

Rive bran oil, sesame, safflower and sunflower oils are very good. They all have pleasant tastes and are rich in the Omega-6 and EFA’s. These oils should be used in their natural state and never heated or used for frying. If heated or used for frying.

The borage oils, black current and evening primrose oils contain LA and GLA fatty acids that are rich in Omega-6’s vital in the production of prostaglandins that help hormone-like regulating factors in supporting the heart, arteries, menstrual cycle, glands, kidneys, joints and metabolic rates.

Another oil that is very popular is wheat germ oil. It contains LNA’s and is a rich source of octacosonal that helps the heart and nervous system. It is one of the richest sources of vitamin E.

A diet deficient in Omega-6 oils could include symptoms as hair loss, drying up of glands, thirst, retarded growth, arthritis and circulatory problems, liver degeneration, fertility and hormonal problems, behavior disturbances and skin conditions.

Another mono-unsaturated oil is olive oil. It is considered an Omega-9 oil, high in oleic acid. This oleic acid is also found in peanuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, filberts and macadamia nuts. Olive oil helps in cleansing the liver and hepatic bile duct, and very supportive to the gallbladder. Olive oil may protect against arteriosclerosis and artery vessel breakdown. Olive oil, an excellent source of monounsaturated oil, contains phytosterols, chlorophyll, magnesium, vitamin E and other unique nutrients. Olive oil helps membrane health and is crucial to organ health.

The other family of polyunsaturated oils are the Omega-3 oils that are found in fish oils, flax seed, soybean oil. Fish oils contain the EPA (eicosapentaenic acid) and DHA (do-cosahexaenic acid). They are especially cold-water fish, such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines. These oils are found in animal tissues such as, adrenal glands, brain and eyeballs. Fish oils are useful additions to the diet, although not all fish oils are the same.

Fish oil and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) has shown to significantly reduce coronary heart disease death.

A deficiency of Omega-3 (linoleic acid) can contribute to impaired vision, impairment of learning ability, motor incoordination, numbness and tingling in arms and legs, retarded growth and mood swings, such as depression and behavior changes.

In summary, oils are vital for optimum health and longevity. They help all areas of body functions and also will help in weight loss. In deciding what oils to take, it is highly recommended to use cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils; that are unrefined, oils in brown glass or opaque containers. Store oils in a cool dark area, never heating oils, and adding vitamin E to the oil to prolong the life of the oil by increasing the antioxidant protection. Also, supplement your diet with cold-water fish oils for added support.

An excellent book on oils and fats is “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill” by Udo Erasmus. It is an excellent complete guide to fats, oils and cholesterol involving human health. Also, another guide is “The Toxic Twins” by Dr. William Kellas.

Dr. David Nelson is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and has been studying health and nutrition for more than 15 years. He has an extensive background in the health science field and is active in teaching and lecturing at seminars across the U.S.  Dr. Nelson has been an integral part of the Center for Advanced Medicine in Encinitas, CA for the past eight years and can be reached at (760) 632-9042.


Return to the November/December Index page