Oils are one of those topics that aren’t very exciting, but they do play an incredibly important role in our diets whether we are vegetarians, carnivores or Primal eaters.
There are a lot of conceptions about what good oil is and whether fat is good for us or not, and unfortunately most of this confusion has come about because of corporate interests in greater profit than what is best for us to eat… but that is a whole other topic.
It’s important for you to get a grasp on the basics of which fats and oils are good for you, and if you’d like to know even more, we’ll go into that too after the basics, if you’ve got a real technical mind! I find the whole topic fascinating, but the Primal Labrador reckons I should tag the technical side as ‘Primal Lifestyle’ as it helps him fall asleep studying it! 😉
When eating a primal diet, fat is a very important macronutrient as it supplies the bulk of your calories and provides you with satiety – that feeling of fullness that lasts for hours between eating meals.
Getting enough good fats and oils into our diet is important as it can help in not only regulating our moods and fight off fatigue but also for getting enough Omega 3 fatty acid, an essential fat that we need to get from food as we cannot produce it ourselves. Although the best source of Omega3 is from cold water oily fish such as salmon, most fats and oils contain good levels of this fatty acid as well.
So to make a long story short, these are oils that are highly recommended and great for your body:
Ghee, Butter, Lard, Tallow
Macadamia and Other Nut Oils
Olive Oil (Non heated)
If you’re thinking “Where’s my xxxx oil” which I’m going to wager is that type of oil made from vegetables, then you’ll need to read on as we short story long and get into the technical side of why Oils Ain’t Oils…
The first point we need to look at is the smoke point of oil, which is important as when oil begins to smoke it creates toxic fumes and harmful free radicals.
For frying and high-temperature cooking choose an oil or fat with a high smoke point, for adding to salads and other dishes after cooking choose an oil that is high in Omega 3s.
Below we’ll go further into the list we gave you earlier for the ‘good oils’ and hopefully make your choice of oils and fats much easier.
This oil has it all, a high smoke point, so it is excellent for frying, and as it is solid at low temperatures it is perfect for making fat bombs and other fat based treats and we use it as the primary binding agent in our Flavour Drops… delicious!
Coconut oil has about 80% saturated fat, so it enhances satiety, and is high in Lauric acid (Lauric Acid’s Benefits for the Body) or Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), and is known to improve HDLs – the good cholesterol.
Alongside coconut oil, avocado oil should be a go-to choice. It has a very high smoke point and very little flavour, so it is great for frying.
It is high in Oleic acid which means it has a high Omega3 to Omega6 ratio, so it helps prevent heart disease and diabetes.
The saturated fats in avocado oil help increase the absorption of carotenoid antioxidants found in vegetables especially carrots and spinach. These antioxidants fight cellular damage caused by free radicals.
As avocado oil is stable at room temperature, it is a great replacement for olive oil on salads and in dressings, it can also be used in place of vegetable oils in baking.
GHEE, BUTTER, LARD AND TALLOW
Provided these fats come from happy grass fed cows that have access to plenty of sunshine for synthesising vitamin D, these fats are a great choice. The Primal Labrador tells me that you can tell when a cow is happy because he’s in a Happy Mooooo-d.
Dad jokes are awful. :-O
All these animal products are all high in the soluble vitamins A, D and K2 and also contain high levels of CLA.
CLA is also known as conjugated linoleic acid or alpha-linoleic acid which is found exclusively in grass fed meat and the raw dairy products from animals, and these fats have high levels of omega 3s which are essential for a healthy heart and fighting off type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Ghee or clarified butter has been used in Indian and Asian cooking for 1000’s of years and has several well know health benefits.
In addition to the above benefits, they all have a high smoke point, so are perfect for stir-fries and other fried foods.
Lard and tallow are stable at room temperature, and with no beef flavour, they are perfect for making fat bombs. Ghee is also used as an alternative to butter by those that are lactose intolerant as the process of clarification removes almost all the lactose molecules.
MACADAMIA AND OTHER NUT OILS
These oils are similar to olive oils but have a higher smoke point, so they are used for frying although they do tend to have quite a strong nutty flavour. They are also stable at room temperature, so can be used on salads or in mayonnaise.
Not only are they high in Oleic acids (Oleic Acid) which is good for your heart as it raises HDL levels, the ‘good’ cholesterol, they also contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that can boost eye health, preventing macular degeneration and slowing the development of cataracts.
Olive oil is also an excellent source of Oleic acid.
It is a packed with both mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids and is high in omega3 oils. Other health benefits include protection against both Alzheimer’s disease along with Ulcerative Colitis. It has a low smoke point so should not be used for frying but is wonderful on salads or for making mayonnaise.
This seed oil is high in Omega 3, and is also good for salads and mayonnaise.
And now we come to the bad oils.
Vegetable oils are often very highly processed to get the final product to look and taste like saturated fats. There’s no doubt that there is very little ‘oil’ in the majority of vegetables!
There are two types of trans fat, those that occur naturally in beef and associated dairy products and those found in man-made oils. The first are natural and found in very small amounts and are of no concern in a normal diet. The second however are created by forcing hydrogen into vegetable oils, deforming their molecules, giving them a long shelf life and making them solid at room temperature. The process not only gives them the names ‘partially hydrogenated’ and ‘hydrogenated’ trans fats, but it also gives them the taste and texture of saturated fats. This was done as vegetable oils are extremely cheap and profitable to produce, and once processed easily transported and stored.
Vegetable oils are in just about every processed food on the supermarket shelves and are unfortunately commonly used for deep frying as they can be reused many times.
These trans oils are bad for your health as they raise bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower good (HDL) cholesterol which increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. How they do this is they have a very high amount of Omega 6 and a low amount of Omega 3. The ideal balance of these oils in our system should be as close to 1:1 as possible. Excess Omega 6 increases inflammation in your body and can increase not only the risk of heart disease but also strokes and some cancers.
In 2013 the US Food and Drug Administration determined that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer generally recognised as safe in human foods, and their use should be phased out.
Oils that contain these bad fats are:
Shortenings such as Chrisco
Peanuts (peanuts are classed as a legume and as such are a vegetable)
Many of these oils are also highly genetically modified, to resist drought, and pests, and to increase yield at the expense of any actual nutrition they may have had in their original form.
If you still want to use these oils, then try to get organic cold pressed oils, as they are far less refined, however even though they may contain soluble vitamins, they are still high in omega 6, which negates anything good about them, no matter what they are hyped up to be.
On labels look for the words trans fats, anything partially hydrogenated and anything hydrogenated.
And so if you made it this far, all the way through the technical details of why Oils Ain’t Oils, let me congratulate and thank you for taking an interest! Hopefully, we can all make some simple changes to our eating habits to enjoy a healthier, happier, longer life!