Ugly fats misguided us for many decades and is still hidden in many of our foodstuff. One of the biggest controversy is the conversion of healthy vegetable oil into the semi-solid margarines which many of us thought were a logical choice over animal fats.
|Butter tastes good on bread, pastries and cakes but its link to clogged arteries is worrying.
Butter tastes good on bread, pastries and cakes but its link to clogged arteries is worrying. The alternative of slapping vegetable oils on bread or to have a birthday cake soaked with good old olive oil is probably not very appealing to many. The innovation of man altering nature once again sets off a whirlpool of unexpected results.
As a replacement for butter, vegetable oils were converted to margarines by a process known as "hydrogenation", which in essence means turning the polyunsaturated healthy fats into a more saturated form. The twist of the story is, in the process of adding hydrogen to the fat, a new monster was created ... trans fats.
If there is a mirror to reflect its image, trans fats are really ugly. It is contorted, twisted and inflexible. Imagine the cell membrane changing ... cells become more rigid and arteries become stiff. The "bad" LDL-cholesterol goes up and the "good" HDL-cholesterol comes down.
We cannot live without fats because it is essential to life. It is impossible to totally cut out the bad and ugly. However, good nutrition pays great dividends. The key is awareness and knowledge to guide us in making good choices.
Even a good fat like olive oil has a mixture of monounsaturated fats (75%), polyunsaturated fats (15%) and saturated fats (10%). In our daily diet, we will get enough of saturated fats from various sources, thus we need to consciously limit the intake of additional saturated fats.
Substitute the bad fats with good by using olive oil for light saut?, canola oil for cooking and light frying. Choose to steam or grill rather than deep fry. Oil used for deep frying should not be reused as high heat oxidises the fat and turns even good fat to bad.
Instead of coating bread with butter, a palatable option is to dip into a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. As for salad dressings, steer away from fatty sauces and use healthy extra virgin olive, hazelnut, macadamia or argan oil (highly recommended). Finally, choose a high quality omega-3 supplement, preferably of pharmaceutical grade.
It is amazing that there are still a great deal of myths, misconceptions, and half truths surrounding the oily issue. Recently, there was a Dutch study, where the ugly was mixed with the good (margarine with omega-3) and was given to patients with heart disease.
At the end of a 40 month trial, it was proclaimed that this concoction did not alter the course of disease and the headlines screamed Omega 3 fail to help heart patients. I too wanted to scream at the absurdity of such misinformation!
Dr C.S. Foo is a medical practitioner. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.