Be picky, choose the good fats.
Good fats have been a big part of my journey of discovery and healing my body and mind. Today, these help me function at optimal performance levels.
Fats may be a contentious subject as many readers will disagree with my post. You will find a division even in the scientific community. Do your own research.
Based on my own experience good fats are an incredibly important components in our diets. Good fats are important building blocks of cell membranes that protect the cell’s DNA from damage. Fats make up raw material in synthesis of many chemicals and processes in our bodies. Important one to mention myelination, which is a process of creating and repairing myelin by cells called oligodendroglia. Myelin provides insulation to our nerves so the impulse energy flows fast to their destinations through our neural net. Disruptions in myelin renewal process will impede speed and efficiency at which we process information. In extreme cases can lead to diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
For decades saturated fats have been vilified in favor of high carbohydrate foods and cheap oil alternatives. Today, we should be healthier, happier and have more energy to do things we love to do, but we don’t. Despite the advances in technology, medicine, pharmaceuticals we are struggling with pretty nasty diseases. Cancer, diabetes, heart issues and neuro-degenerative ailments such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s top the list. Most of these diseases can be attributed to several flawed studies published back in the sixties. Just over a couple of years these have taken life of their own. This stigma unfortunately still persists today. It turns out the high sugar, high non-persistent carbohydrate diet is highly inflammatory. Inflammation is the common denominator and potentially a root cause of many diseases that can be avoided by selective moderation. Use of certain oils in the kitchen may also lead to inflammation.
Exercise caution choosing what you eat and selecting higher quality of food over quantity.
What are good fats?
Good fats are important to your metabolic well being, some of which include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil, including MCTs
- Animal fats
fit the category of essential fatty acids, meaning your body is unable to synthesize them or synthesize them. The only way to get essential fats is through the diet.
An good example of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are Omega-3 fats such as DHA and EPA. Your brain is for example about 60% fat. DHA makes up one third of fat composition. Omega-3s have a profound impact on rate of neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is creation of new neuron cells in your brain, think of it as renewal process. Dietary decosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is also needed for the optimum functional maturation of the retina and visual cortex. Visual acuity and mental development is seemingly improved by extra DHA intake.
Good sources if Omega-3 fats is wild caught Salmon (avoid farmed fish). Another great source is Krill oil. Krill is an awesome little fish that is low in contaminants such as Mercury found in larger fish. Krill EPA and DHA is bound to phospholipids such as astaxanthin similar to human fat cells which enhances absorption, makes oil more stable. Other sources of omega-3 fats are cold marine fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies, trout.
Make sure to buy a reputable brand of Omega-3, because oxidized, contaminated fish oil may do you more harm than good.
There are other essential fats in the Omega-6 and omega-9 family, however will not spend much time on these. What you need to know is that Quality Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory, Omega-6 and 9 are pro-inflammatory and are abundant everywhere, especially if you buy processed food.
Olive Oil – Greek, extra virgin, cold pressed
Olive oil is primarily composed of monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturates are easily degraded by high heat, therefore avoid cooking with olive oil. It is best to poor over already warmed food or your colorful salad.
Extra virgin olive oil contains antioxidant oleocanthal that you can taste sort of as a burning sensation at the back of your tongue. Extra virgin olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Keep oil safe from oxidation and light by storing it in a dark, air tight bottle. I normally buy oil from Greece as I have not heard of them tampering with the composition. You need to find a trusted and as local supply as you can get. This is to avoid months in transit, so your product is still in good shape and not degraded.
To be honest, I prefer fresh organic avocados that are full of excellent, unspoiled nutrients. If you like to use Avocado Oil use only cold pressed, extra virgin variety. Avoid organically extracted avocado oil. Hexane is a common chemical in oil extraction. Unwanted pigments ans solvent is then further refined.
Avocado has a high flash point, yet it is not 100% composed of the same fatty acids. Different fats thermally degrade at different temperatures. Don’t heat your oils to the point of smoking. By this time you have damaged the fat.
Coconut oil and MCT oils
Coconut oils is comprised of several different fats. About 80% of coconut oils is a saturated fat. High content of saturated fats makes it particularly well suited for cooking. Coconut oil also contains Medium chain triglicerides (MCTs).
Good quality MCT oils help achieving high level of cognitive performance. Two of the most beneficial MCTs are capric and caprilic acids, capable of rising ketone bodies in you blood. Some MCTs are able transiting blood-brain barrier. Your brain then uses ketones directly as a fuel. Most abundant of MCTs is lauric acid (50% of coconut oil content) however it is actually pro-inflammatory omega-9 fat. Another MCT aproic acid is downright stinky and if not properly removed from rest of the MCTs by distilled can cause gastric distress such as cramps and diarrhea.
Coconut oil as a cooking fat is a great choice, however use it in moderation. Due to its high lauric acid content we don’t recommend exceeding three tablespoons per day.
For extra performance, use only high quality MCTs using solvent free distillation process. In the past I used many different brands of MCTs with mixed results. Some of them were very unpleasant. I use Brain Octane from Bulletproof, which I blend into my morning coffee along with a grass fed butter. I find bulletproof coffee an amazing high octane, energy sustaining drink. It is able to keep me thinking and concentrating without the jitters or crashes you get with a regular coffee.
Grass fed animal fats
Lard, butter, ghee, bone marrow are excellent sources of saturated fats that are also suitable for cooking. Saturated fats have very stable single bond in the formula. Grass fed variety also contains omega-3 fats that we already touched upon. For maximum benefit stay away from grain fed meat. Feeding with grain destroys Omega-3 and very beneficial CLA.
Our ancestors used animal fats over past couple hundred thousand of years. This has left a significant imprint on our genome that allows us to efficiently use fats.