Fats are confusing. Which fats are healthy for cooking and baking with and which are good for salad dressings and drizzling?
Let me lay it our for you:
Not what you've heard before, right? I had to completely change the oils my family eats after reading Dr. Wahls' book Minding My Mitochondria. We ditched the canola oil and started to buy organic butter, clarifying what we needed for cooking. I was so excited to find lard for $5 a pound at my local farmer stand. We now only use walnut and olive oil for dressings and uncooked foods.
You will find my recipes for this series, Brain Food, have the correct oils. Use the 'Wahls Paleo Diet Recipes and Ideas' link in the header to find all the posts in this series. If you dig back into my blog you will find some that don't comply. By the way, I can't believe this blog is going on eight years old!
Are you ready to change up your fats or if you are already working on the Wahls Diet, fine tune your knowledge?
Here are some good basic rules.
Always choose vegetable oils that:
- Have been processed and heated the least to reduce the amount of volatile trans fats. Cold pressed is almost always a good option.
- Are from organic vegetables or seeds to reduce toxin exposure
- Healthy vegetable oils include: olive oil, nut oils, avocado oil, grape seed oil, flax seed oil and hemp oil
Always choose animal fats that:
- Are from grass-fed or wild animals to get a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats
- Healthy rendered animal fats include: lard (pig), tallow (beef), fish, chicken and other poultry, and ghee (clarified butter)
Coconut oil is the only vegetable fat I've seen Dr. Wahls say is okay to heat. This was on her FaceBook Page in March: "Coconut oil is ok for heating, clarified butter (removes proteins) and rendered animal fats all okay for heating. All others cold. Heating food at high temps damages vitamins, antioxidants, takes away compounds your cells wanted to use."
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fat
What's the big deal about omega-3 and omega-6 fats? Our bodies need both. It turns out grains like corn and soy beans are very high in omega-6. Industrialized cultures like ours eat a lot of grains. We are don't eat enough omega-3 fats. For many Americans the ration of omega-6 to omega-3 is 30:1. For coastal communities with seafood-based diets, the rations is 3:1. The best ratio of omega fatty acids for disease prevention is between 10:1 and 3:1 [source]
If our bodies and brains don't get a good ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 then substitutions start happening. Substitutions are almost never a good thing. Too much omega-6 can cause rewiring of the brain causing misfires and generally more inflammation.
If the diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids then the levels of inflammation molecules are lower and autoimmune diseases like arthritis, MS, Parkinsons, diabetes, heart disease and dementia are significantly less common.
As Dr. Wahls puts it, "Having a healthy mitochondria or not having a healthy mitochondria is the difference between having two miles to the gallon verses having 38 miles to the gallon. We have hundreds, thousands of mitochondria per brain cell. So it is the difference between being a snail and a jet liner." [from Food as Medicine Brain Health video]
Here's more information from Dr. Wahls. In this short video she's talking about oils and fats:
Transcript of video:
Oils are very important for our body as our fats. My brain is 60-70% fat. Therefore it is important that I consume healthy appropriate fats so that my brain can make insulation, the myelin, on the wiring of the spinal cord and the brain.
It is important to have omega-3 fats as you would find in wild fish, grass-fed meat. And non-processed fats. The processed vegetable oils are high in omega-6. And when you heat those vegetable oils you'll increase the production of trans fats. Trans fats are particularly unstable and will do a lot of damage to your blood vessels.
For that reason, I encourage the use of omega-3 fats only for salad dressing. If you are going to heat a fat use something such as bacon fat, lard or coconut oil.
This just went up on the Wahls Foundation Facebook Page March 22, 2013:
The processed fats are high in trans fat to make the fat last long on the shelf (and are very toxic to brain cells). Add all the tasty carbs that quickly turn to blood sugar and you get damaged blood vessels, strained brain cells and steadily declining health.
How are you feeding your family? Fast processed food (trans fats), high carb diet that is tasty, convenient, and destroying our health and our economies world wide?