Lipid, fat, oil…
Why do we need fat? And what type of fat? What is available on the market? One of the worst processed food ever…
The role of fat in your body.
The generic term would be lipid, it is present in almost all our food as a substance not soluble in water. It is tasteful and essential for good health. It carries fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), insulate and protect our body and the major organes and we use fat to make our hormones. (1)
Fat is highly energetic as it provides twice more calorie per gram than carbohydrates or protein, it is the major form of stored energy in our body. (2)
Some of the fat from food are called Essential fatty acids, because we can not produce them and our body can not function without them. They are linoleic and linolenic acid and we need them for brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting. (3)
But how many type of fat exist? Do we have good and bad fat?
In biochemistry they teach that there is a great diversity in lipids molecules. Their structure is made of blocks and the most common one is called fatty acid. The divers chain of fatty acids will determine the type of fat as saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated. Among those are the essential fatty acids that are the starting point for the creation of omega 3 and omega 6. (4)
The food industry created a product by adding hydrogen to some fat, tans fat or hydrogenated fat is present in most of the processed and fast food.
And among all those fats, which one is the best?
What fat should we consume ?
All our food fat is made of the three major different fat. It is the ratio that will categorize them in one more than the other. It is also this ratio that makes a fat healthier than another. Studies are continuously showing adverse answers on which fat is better, literature agrees that a small amount of fat is needed, from different sources and so far the best ones are rapeseed, olive and sunflower oil (alternate to get the benefits from each), Fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, sardine…) and avocado, nuts, seeds…
Transfat can not be absorbed considering its biochemical structure and should be banned from our food, it gives calories but no nutrients, which means we use our body ressources for excretion, creating free radical and oxidative damages in this process without any benefits. (5)(6)
Why this craze about coconut oil? It contains primarily saturated fat that science claimed to be responsible for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases. Researches on fat improved and in our knowledge we discovered that a saturated fat made from medium size chained fatty acids is easily digested and then used by the liver as an energy source. Therefor will not lead to cardiovascular disease when consume in small doses. 46% of its fatty acids are lauric acid which actually help to keep our arteries health. Coconut oil is also rich in flavonoids and polyphenols which are both beneficial regarding oxidative stress, involved in the etiology of various diseases, including type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), cardiovascular disease and cancer. On another note coconut oil lacks omegas that are essential for our body health. (8)
Rotating the use of different oil will allow you to get different benefits depending on the fatty acids content, same can be said for fat riches food like nuts, seeds, grasped meat, fish, avocado…
The danger of a low fat diet.
A misconception of the danger of fat consumption lead us to low fat diet in the past. But because fat is tasty, the food industry replaced it by sugar. Researches prove that an individual on a low fat diet will consume more refined carbohydrates which will lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer for example.
Not only we need to eat fat, but in the right amount it does not lead to diseases, in the contrary it is essential for health, especially our reproductive system for hormones formation and for our nervous system. Why did the food industry replaced it by sugar? I will not enter this subject here, the effect of this on the population has been disastrous, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, inflammation… And to make it worse they created transfat that will cause all the negative impact on our system that was wrongly attributed to saturated fat. (9)
Fat is also the precursor of the feeling of satiety, low fat diet will lead to overeating… Eating the right amount and the right type of fat everyday is essential for health. New discovery shows that LDL is not that bad, it is when oxidized that he threatens our arteries health. It is again the ratio between HDL and LDL as well as the quality that makes a difference.
How much do we need ?
It is when overeating that fat becomes dangerous, the body will not be able to use it and will start to store it. It will cause insuline resistance and oxidative stress. (10)
As the scientists and literature have different views on saturated fat considering research has still to be done, it is safe to say that consuming quality fat is a safer option. We need up to 20 % of our daily calories from fat, which is around 40 gr of fat knowing 1 tablespoon of olive oil is 14 gr, 80 gr of beef is 14 gr, 80 gr of mackerel is 15gr, one egg is 5 gr, 1 avocado will give 29 gr, and 55 gr of peanuts will give 18 gr of fat. even fruits and vegetable can have up to 1 gr of fat.
The issue is, all those fats are not the same and do not always carry the essential fatty acids. It is why I recommend a daily consumption of good quality oil and fatty fish 3 times a week at least (when not farmed and small sizes to avoid toxins). Nuts and seeds, lean meat and small amount of cheese, flaxseeds and avocado that are good sources too.
The ecological note.
Palm oil has been used so intensively that we saw dramatic deforestation in Asia. I do not say it is bad for health, if unprocessed even if highly saturated. It is definitely bad for the planet. There are many great oils available! I am just scared that the same may happen with coconut oil… And avocado.
(1) Byrd-Bredbenner, C., Moe, G., Beshgetoor, D., & Berning, J. R. (2013). Wardlaw’s perspectives in nutrition (Ninth edition /). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
(2) Jamison, J. (2003). Nutrition and dietary supplements in disease management. Australia. Churchill Livingston.
(4) Stoker, H. S. (2013). General, organic, and biological chemistry (6th ed.). Australia: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.
(5) Dr Stanton, R. (2007). Foods that harm foods that heal. Australia. Readers digest.
(6) translated from French http://www.mangerbouger.fr/Les-9-reperes/Les-9-reperes-a-la-loupe/Matieres-grasses
(8) Boemeke, L., Marcadenti, A., Busnello, F.M. and Gottschall, C.B.A. (2015) Effects of Coconut Oil on Human Health. Open Journal of Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases, 5, 84-87.
(9) Lawrence, G.D., (2013). Dietary Fats and Health: Dietary Recommendations in the Context of Scientific Evidence.Adv Nutr May 2013 Adv Nutr vol. 4: 294-302, 2013
(10) Dc Jacob, L.M. La nutrition raisonnee. Germany. Resurgence.