The Standard American Diet (SAD) is extremely high in the wrong types of fat: highly-saturated fats and refined oils. These types of fats have a negative effect on the inflammatory status of the body. Over time, this promotes free radicals and increases the risk for chronic inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Today, more and more people are transitioning to a green lifestyle with healthy recipes, but there’s still much confusion about which fats are “good” and which are “bad”. With an ocean of information, it can be hard to differentiate between them. Here we’ll give you a break down of your body’s response to different types of fats (both good and bad) and give you a list of healthy fats to incorporate into your diet!
Difference in Numbers
Omega-3 and omega-6 are both essential fatty acids, meaning our bodies cannot produce them; they must be obtained from our diet. They are both considered polyunsaturated fats, but the way our bodies respond to them is very different.
Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Two vital dietary omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which REDUCE inflammation, cardiovascular disease and even blood clotting. Omega-3s are abundant in cold water fish, like salmon and sardines, but can also be found in vegetarian sources such as flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, and our personal favorite – blue green algae. (Blender Babes has a variety of omega-3 rich recipes if you need some inspiration!)
Omega-6 fatty acids also help to produce hormones, but they differ from those created by omega-3s. Omega-6 fatty acids tend to INCREASE inflammation, cell proliferation and blood clotting. Inflammation is caused by a type of omega-6 called eicosanoids. The more eicosanoids in your body, the more inflammation, especially if you are not counteracting them with anti-inflammatory omega-3s.
Both types of omegas are needed for your body to function properly, but problems begin to occur when the system is off balance. Like everything else, balance brings harmony to our health. Since it seems easier for us to get Omega-6s, you will need to make an effort to make sure and get your Omega 3s.
Other Key Players
Monounsaturated fats are another very important type of healthy fat. Using cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in your meals will give you a higher concentration of monounsaturated fat than any other edible oil. Research has shown that high quality extra virgin olive oil has a healthy anti-inflammatory compound known as oleocanthal, which may have benefits similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Blender Babes has lots of extra virgin olive oil recipes if you need ideas!
Refined vegetable oils and saturated fats are full of eicosanoids, without the anti-inflammatory, heart healthy benefits of omega-3s. These are found in almost all pre-packaged food and should be reduced or eliminated from your diet.
So lets break it all down!
The Latest Health Research Suggests:
♥ Reduce intake of refined polyunsaturated omega-6s, such as sunflower, safflower, corn and soybean oil.
♥ Avoid trans fats found in most processed food, pre-packaged junk food and products such as margarine, vegetable shortening and any oil that is hydrogenated, partially or otherwise.
♥ Cut back on saturated fats found in fatty red meat, unskinned poultry, dairy products; these products are high in saturated fats and have been linked to many inflammatory diseases.
♥ Include monounsaturated fats in your diet such as nuts, butters and spreads made from raw nuts, avocados, olives and high quality oils.
♥ Enjoy lots of omega-3 fats, these can be found in cold water fish like salmon, oil-rich sardines and anchovies, walnuts, as well as whole flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds – All of which can be easily ground in your Blendtec or Vitamix blender for fresh ground seeds!
It’s important to choose a cooking oil with a high smoke point. The smoke point is partly determined by the type of oil. For example, Walnut oil starts to smoke when at about 320°F although grapeseed oil can be heated to 475°F before it begins to smoke. The refining process of the oil is another great factor when it comes to cooking. Removing the impurities from oil, aka the refining process, will increase its smoke point. For instance, extra virgin olive oil starts smoking at 325°F, but light or refined olive oil can be heated to 450°F or higher.
For sautéing, stewing, baking, or braising, use a light or refined olive oil, avocado oil, refined palm, or coconut oil, they all will work fine. But if you prefer extra flavor, choose a filtered olive oil.
For salad dressings or drizzling over a dish, an unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, or unrefined or toasted nut and seed oil will give you great flavor and maximum health benefits.
Health research has pointed out there are differences in the types of fats we consume, and that not all calories are processed the same. This new information has brought awareness to how we can reduce chronic and acute inflammation while increasing our body’s responsiveness to free-radical triggers with the inclusion of more omega-3 sources and reduction of refined omega-6s. We hope this list of healthy fats helps you balance your diet. Be sure to join our community for more informative healthy living articles by Blender Babes!