OILS AND FATS
Fat is the most important macronutrient when practicing a high-fat low carb/ keto diet. By replacing carbohydrates with fats and moderate amounts of protein we are fueling our bodies mainly with fat. Our bodies need fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, balance hormones and generate cell growth. A gram of fat provides 9 kcal of energy compared to 4 kcal for carbohydrates and protein. Fat is so energy-dense and takes longer to digest, that it helps us to feel full and satisfied, while consuming less calories overall, then we would be eating a high carb diet. It has very little to no effect on blood glucose levels, as only about ten percent of it is turned into sugar by our body. That’s why a high fat and low carb diet is so great for our health.
There are four types of dietary fat:
- Saturated Fat
- Monounsaturated Fat
- Polyunsaturated Fat and
- Trans fat.
Most fats and oils contain both, saturated and unsaturated fat in different proportions. Many experts have different opinions on saturated fat. Some claim it increases bad cholesterol and chances of heart disease, some claim that we need saturated fat to keep us healthy.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that’s mostly made by the body in the liver.
It’s carried in the blood as:
- low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
- high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
“Good” HDL cholesterol has a positive effect by taking cholesterol from parts of the body where there’s too much of it to the liver, where it’s disposed of.
TYPES OF FATS
Saturated fat is mainly found in animal products:
- Dairy Products like milk, cream, yogurt, cheese, butter and ghee
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Lard and Tallow
- Fatty cuts of meat
Most saturated fats are solid at room temperature and liquefy when heated. It is believed that saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol levels, which is known to be the bad cholesterol. That’s why the official recommendation is to reduce saturated fat in our diet. But like I said before there are many different opinions between the experts. I am not a nutritionist or medical professional but I believe that the more natural and less processed and refined a fat/oil is, the better it is for our health. I wouldn’t stop using coconut oil, ghee, or butter just because they are saturated fats.
The unsaturated fats are split into two Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fat. Most unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. They both have a slightly different chemical structure but both are known to lower LDL cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fats are mainly in plant-based products:
- Avocado and Avocado oil
- Olives and Olive oil
- Nuts and Nut butter like almonds, cashews and hazelnuts
- Peanuts and Peanut butter
- Seeds, Seed oils and Seed Butter like sesame and sunflower
Polyunsaturated fats are found in both, plant-based but also in Marine products.
- Nuts, Nut butter and oil especially Walnut
- Seeds, Seed butter, Seed oil (Sunflower, Sesame, Pumpkin, Hemp, Flax/Linseed, Canola, Corn)
- Chia seeds
- Olive and Olive oil
- Avocado and Avocado oil
- Legumes (Peanut/ Peanut oil and Soy/Soy oil)
- Seaweed and Algae
- Fatty fish
- Whole Wheat grain
Polyunsaturated fats contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which are important for cell growth and brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids have the strongest evidence for health benefits and are believed to reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Our bodies can not produce Omega fatty acids, so it is important to consume a balanced amount of both. The optimal ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is thought to be 4 to 1 or lower. It is crucial not to consume too much Omega 6.
Excess omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils interfere with the health benefits of omega-3 fats, in part because they compete for the same rate-limiting enzymes. A high proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fat in the diet shifts the physiological state in the tissues toward the pathogenesis of many diseases: prothrombotic, proinflammatory, and proconstrictive. Chronic excessive intake of omega-6 eicosanoids is correlated with arthritis, inflammation, and cancer. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega-6_fatty_acid
Trans Fats are heavily processed and dangerous to our health and present in
- Baked goods like pastries, cakes, biscuits and crackers,
- Fried foods
- Ready meals and Takeaways
- Margarines and fake butter
Trans fats are made by heating unsaturated fats at a too high temperature, to give them a longer shelf life. The hydrogenation process changes the chemical characteristics and this is believed to cause inflammation and disease in human cells. Trans fat is also believed to raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. If you see the words ‘partially hydrogenated fat’ on the label, avoid these foods as much as possible, as they contain trans fats. Very small amounts of trans fast are also found in dairy and meat products but these are thought to be safe to eat.
List of healthy fat and oils for a vegetarian keto diet
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
- Cocoa Butter
- Coconut oil
- Pumpkin Seed oil
- Walnut oil
- Macadamia oil
- Linseed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Olive oil
- Hazelnut oil
- Hemp oil
- Sesame oil
- Mustard oil
- Heavy cream
- Substantially sourced palm oil
- MCT oil
Although these Oils and Fats are all healthy choices, we need to make sure the quality is good. Some oils are highly refined and processed so that they no longer pose any health benefits.
Processing of Oil
First the Oil needs to be removed from a seed, nut or fruit, this is called Extraction. There are three ways to extract the oil.
- Cold-pressed, using a press to extract the oil at low temperature
- Chemical extraction, using a chemical solvent to extract the oil
- High-speed rotation, using a decanter centrifuge to separate the oil from the solids
The next step is to refine the extracted oil, called Refinement
- Distilling, heating the oil till the chemical solvents from extraction evaporate.
- Degumming, removing water-soluble impurities by passing hot water through the oil
- Neutralization, removing, free fatty acids, pigments, waxes, and phospholipids with sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate
- Bleaching, removing color with chemicals
- Dewaxing, removing solids, that form by cooling the oil down at low temperatures
- Deodorizing, heating the oil till unpleasant odor or taste evaporate
- Preserving, adding antioxidants to help preserve the oil that has been made less stable due to processing it at too high temperatures
- Filtering, removing any sediments or particles
There are cold-pressed, unrefined and unfiltered oils available. Always check the label, so you can buy the best oil possible
We also have to make sure that we use fat and oils the right way. We should differentiate oils and fats for frying and cold use. Oils that are healthy at room temperature can become unhealthy when heated at a certain temperature. The fats and oils used for cooking should have a high smoke point.
A smoke point is the temperature at which a fat or oil starts to burn, where it’s chemical characteristic change and it loses its nutrients. Refined oil has a higher smoke point, because refining removes impurities and free fatty acids that can cause the oil to smoke.
Fats and Oils for frying
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Mustard Oil
Fats and Oils for cold use
- Olive Oil
- Nut Oil
- MCT Oil