FATS AND OILS FOR OPTIMUM HEALTH
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© March 2016, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
An essential food. High-quality fats and oils are one of the most essential foods to consume every day. Please do not listen to the nonsense on the television and elsewhere that fats make you fat, or that fats raise cholesterol, or that fats clog your arteries. None of this is true when you choose high-quality fats and eat them in the right amounts.
Fast oxidizers need more fats or oils. Eating fats and oils is most essential for those with a fast oxidation rate. These people must have some every day, with each of three meals. Adults need about two tablespoons per meal, while babies and children, who are the majority of fast oxidizers, need less, but still need their fats or oils with each meal. Otherwise, they cannot balance their body chemistry properly.
Some parents will not feed their children fats, as they have been told it will make their child fat or sick. This is the opposite of the truth. Avoiding fats and oils in children is one of the most pernicious nutrition lies that is propagated today.
Babies and young children up to the age of 10 are often fast oxidizers, and must have their fats or oils with each meal or they can become overweight, hyperactive, irritable, and develop other health problems, as well.
Delicate. Fats are among the most delicate of all the foods. This is one reason I do not recommend cooking them, ever. This applies to butter, cheese, yogurt, kefir, and oils, as well. Meats must be cooked lightly for safety. Eggs must be boiled for about 3 minutes to kill bacteria, but eggs should be eaten with the yolks runny, which means raw.
Composition of fats and oils. Fats and oils are composed of chains of molecules called fatty acids that are made of mainly carbon atoms. Saturated fats means that the carbon double bonds have hydrogen attached to them, and this make the fat solid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and are called oils. That is the only difference between them.
Fats from animals contain a little cholesterol, which is a very important chemical and not a problem at all. Most cholesterol is made within the body, and does not come from the diet, in most cases.
High energy foods. Fats and oils are high energy foods, providing about 9 calories per gram of fat. This is more than twice the energy content of sugars and starches. This is the reason why some nutrition and diet authorities think that fats will make you fat. However, it is not so when one knows how to choose them properly, and when they are needed, such as when a person has a.
Do not overdo on fats, even the best quality ones. Even fast oxidizers do not need to eat more than about 20% fats or oils in your diet. Today, some groups suggest eating much more, such as the Weston Price organization, the Paleo diet group or others. I do not agree with this at all.
Eating more than about 20 percent fat in the diet may taste good, and may normalize your weight, but fats contain estrogens, among other things, and this can lead to female cancers and many other problems. This is very important!
Brain food. Fats and oils are needed for your brain and nervous system, for energy production and for making most of the body’s vital hormones. Children, in particular, absolutely require adequate fats and oils, particularly EPA and DHA. These are two omega-3 essential fatty acids needed for development of the nervous system. Quality fats and oils are also essential for the cell membranes. These must transport all vitamins, minerals and hormones in and out of every one of the body cells.
The right amount and types of high-quality fats and oils do not drive up one’s insulin level, create insulin resistance and make one fat, as do excessive sugars and carbohydrates. They also do not rob the body of minerals, as does eating sugars and many starches as well. Last but not least, fats and oils make our food taste good.
The idea of avoiding all high-quality fats because they may make you fat, or that quality fats clog your arteries, is one of the worst nutritional errors of our time. Even the government ‘food pyramid’ is absolutely wrong when it comes to eating quality fats and oils. Hopefully, this article will answer many questions about eating fats and oils.
1. Eat between 5% and 20% fat, depending on your oxidation rate, and perhaps other health conditions, and no more. This is discussed above. Too much fats and oils may feel good, but lead to cancer, in my view, and is therefore not wise today. It may have been fine in the past, such as when Weston Price lived 100 years ago, but it is not okay today in our extremely toxic world. Cooked vegetables will detoxify and renourish the body. Fats do not do this to the same extent, at all.
2. Fats should be eaten in the raw state whenever possible, or not overcooked. Most are quite damaged when cooked too long, and especially when overcooked, such as with deep frying, hard-boiling eggs, pasteurizing dairy products, cooking cheese and frying foods.
3. The best fats. Most of the best fats and oils are derived from animal sources. These are the most yang, and because they are saturated, they keep better. Spoiled fats or oils are very toxic. The best include:
Š Meats (lamb fat, beef tallow, chicken fat, turkey fat, goose fat, duck fat, or others). Please avoid lard, which may contain parasite ova even if it is well-cooked.
Š Raw dairy products (butter, cream, whole milk or full-fat cheese or yogurt).
Š Sardines (some others such as salmon, tuna and others have some quality fats, but are too high in mercury to be healthful foods).
Š Roasted almond butter. This is not an animal-derived product, but the oil is quite excellent. So it is high recommended, in moderation.
Š Olive oil. This is the other high quality oil that keeps well and can be used in cooking or eaten raw.
4. Vegetable oils. These are derived from nuts, seeds and fruits. They are not as good, but consuming a little is okay. Most are quite refined, heated, and extracted with toxic chemicals. Even the cold-pressed oils are not that good, and go rancid quickly. In addition, they rarely contain any omega-3 fatty acids, while containing too many omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. They include:
Š Grain oils: (corn oil or others). This is usually very refined and very low in omega-3 fatty acids and too high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Š Legume oils: (soy oil, peanut oil or others). Soy oil is almost always a chemically-extracted product and not very healthful, though it is a good source of vitamin E, along with wheat germ oil and rice bran oil.
Seed oils: (sesame, sunflower,
safflower, flax, hemp, chia, borage, black current, primrose, canola, and
others). Primrose and borage oils
contain a fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid, which cam reduce inflammatory
conditions such as premenstrual syndrome.
However, they are somewhat toxic and not necessary if one follows a
nutritional balancing program.
Avoid cottonseed oil, which is often contaminated with pesticides, even
if labeled organic.
The seed oils are nutritious, but they go rancid very fast, even in the refrigerator, and are not necessary to eat. Hemp and flax oils are high in omega-3 fatty acids, if you don’t want to use fish oil. However, buy them in pearls or capsules to maintain their freshness.
6. Oils from fruits and nuts (coconut oil, for example) are even more yin in macrobiotic terms. They include almond, coconut, palm, macadamia, hazelnut and perhaps others. They are not recommended for regular use, although a little now and then is okay.
The exception is olive oil. This is a fruit oil, but it is not as yin a fruit, and the oil is quite healthful. It is discussed above.
Some health authorities love to recommend coconut oil due to its content of lauric acid, medium chain triglygcerides and other healthful ingredients.
However, coconut is a sub-tropical fruit that makes the body much more yin if one eats a lot of it. We find this extremely detrimental for one’s health. This is a subtle aspect of nutrition that has to do with the science of Macrobiotics, discussed in a separate article. Although the concept of yin and yang with regard to foods is unusual, it is very powerful. Coconut, palm and other nut and seed oils may seem and taste wonderful, but my experience is that they slowly upset the body’s biochemical balance and become toxic for this reason.
6. Avoid lard, as all pig products may be contaminated with trichina worm cysts that are not destroyed even by thorough cooking.
FATS AND THE OXIDATION RATE
Dr. Paul Eck and other researchers have found that fast oxidizers require more fat and/or oils in their diets than slow oxidizers. This has to do with their biochemistry, and their higher rate of metabolism that literally burns more calories. The amount of more fats and oils varies, however, depending on how rapid is the oxidation rate, and it also may depend on other factors such as the sodium/potassium ratio, a person’s age, and perhaps a person’s digestive ability.
This is a very critical subject, especially for children, who are generally faster oxidizers. Almost all young children need some fats and oils with each meal, and must avoid fruits and sweets of all kinds. Rather than repeat a lot of information, for more on this topic, please read The Oxidation Types on this website.
CHILDREN AND FATS
Babies and children have a critical need for high quality fats for the development of their brain and nervous systems. It is most unfortunate when parents do not feed their children fat, for fear the children will become overweight. It is also unfortunate when children are fed poor quality, pasteurized dairy products and overcooked fried oils, and other inferior fats and oils.
Even worse, instead of giving their children quality meats, eggs, yogurt and other fat-containing foods, some parents substitute soymilk, grains, fruit juice and sugar-laden soda pop. These contain much more sugars, which tend to make children overweight and ill.
Another horror is most commercial baby formula that contains cheap soymilk or soy oil, when babies desperately need all the essential fatty acids for their brain development. Babies who cannot drink mother’s milk, which is over 50% fat, often do well on raw cow or goat milk. If not, one can create a baby formula based on other fats or oils. An excellent book that offers several excellent baby formulas one can make easily at home is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig.
After they are weaned, children need eggs, butter, meats, poultry, oily fish such as sardines, and perhaps a little nut butter and fish oil. These will provide high-quality oils and fats. Grass-fed meats are better, including lamb and dark meat chicken, turkey, natural beef in moderation, and preferably goat milk and cheese or organic milk products.
Fats to avoid for everyone, particularly children, are French fries fried in vegetable oil, fast-food milk shakes, which are mostly chemicals, and restaurant fried fish or other fried foods. Dairy products should be raw, not pasteurized and not cooked. So please avoid grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese dips, and processed cheeses used in pizza and other dishes. These fats and oils are usually old, overheated and quite unhealthful.
I cannot emphasize enough that babies and children must have high-quality fats and oils every day to nourish their brains and avoid many kinds of developmental and behavioral problems.
Most vegetable oils are refined to prevent them from going rancid. They are boiled, deodorized and at times preserved with chemicals. This gives them a good shelf life in the supermarket, but can severely damage the nutritional quality of the oil.
Hydrogenation. A common way oils are refined is called hydrogenation. During World War II, a shortage of butter and other fats occurred, as they were needed to make rubber tires for the war effort.
It was found that by bubbling hydrogen through vegetable oil at high temperature using nickel or cadmium as a catalyst, one can change an oil from a liquid to a solid. It will then not go rancid and it will ‘feel’ like butter. The new fake fat was called margarine. A huge public relations campaign convinced the public to eat margarine instead of butter because it does not contain cholesterol.
MARGARINE, CRISCO AND OTHER HYDROGENATED OILS
More recently, we have learned that margarine is the worst type of fat or oil to eat. Hydrogenation creates something called trans-fatty acids that are quite harmful to the body. Also, the nickel used to produce the margarine is a very toxic metal that does not belong in our bodies. Cadmium may also be added to the fat as a catalyst as well, and is another very toxic metal.
Margarines, some claiming to contain no trans-fats, are still sold at many health food markets and at supermarkets. Also, partially hydrogenated oils are still used in many, many processed foods such as commercial peanut butters, dips and spreads, cookies, candies and more. Hydrogenated oils are good for greasing your bicycle, or they can stop your car doors from squeaking. However, they are very low quality foods. For more on this topic, read Butter Versus Margarine. Also, read Dairy Products on this website.
SATURATED VERSUS UNSATURATED FATS
Fatty substances are either solid at room temperature, or liquid at room temperature.
Fats. Those that are called fats are solid at room temperature. The reason is they have fewer or no double bonds among their carbon atoms. Examples of more saturated fats are beef tallow, lard, chicken fat, and coconut and palm oil. All these tend to be solid at room temperature.
Oils. Other fats have more carbon double bonds. These are called unsaturated fats. They are more liquid at room temperature. They include most of the vegetable oils such as peanut, safflower, sunflower, soy, corn, flaxseed and sesame seed oil.
Some fats are somewhat saturated, including butter and olive oil, for example. These will be hard if you place them in the refrigerator, but will become soft or liquid at room temperature.
The degree of saturation of a fat is not that critical for its nutritional content. However, it is important because the more unsaturated an oil, the faster it goes rancid. Rancid oils can be very harmful to eat.
Some nutritionists waste a lot of time, in my view, debating whether saturated fats like butter and coconut oil are better than unsaturated oils like soy or canola oil.
My conviction is, and has been for quite a while, that the fears about saturated fats are quite overblown. Recently, for example, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review of saturated fat studies from the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California. The authors concluded that reducing saturated fat does not prolong life or lower the incidence of coronary heart disease.
The authors wrote:
“The conclusion of an analysis of the history and politics behind the diet-heart hypothesis was that after 50 years of research, there was no evidence that a diet low in saturated fat prolongs life…Overall, dietary intervention by lowering saturated fat intake does not lower the incidence of nonfatal coronary artery disease; nor does such dietary intervention lower coronary disease or total mortality.”
This is not the only scientific group to catch on to the truth. In 2002, a report from the National Academy of Sciences concluded there was no evidence that a diet low in saturated fat prolongs life. They went on to say that the real killer is trans-fatty acids. The report stated, “the only safe intake of trans-fat is zero.” Trans-fats have been removed from most processed foods and restaurant frying fats at places like McDonalds restaurants.
Meanwhile, the real causes of heart disease are most likely nutritional deficiencies, chlorine in the water we drink, toxic metals in the food, water and air, and lifestyle factors such as how much rest and sleep one gets. Saturated fats have been eaten for generations, long before cancer and heart disease were common. In fact, there was less cancer and less heart disease when people in America ate more saturated fats.
THE LOW-FAT CRAZE
“Low-fat” everything has produced an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and even some of the ADHD and perhaps cancers that are so common today. These diseases were not as prevalent before people began believing the lie that quality fats are bad for you.
What few people realize is that if you do not eat fats and oils, you must consume many more sugars or starches to obtain the calories you need. This easily exceeds most people’s carbohydrate tolerance level and leads to many diseases.
Also, prepared foods that are low in fat usually contain many more chemicals in order to give the food the flavor that fats normally provide. Many of these chemical additives are of questionable safety.
THE OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Fish oil, grass-fed beef, lamb and other wild game meats, raw dairy from grass-fed animals, flaxseed and hempseed oils contain more of a configuration called omega-3 fatty acids. These are also sometimes called essential fatty acids. They are critical chemicals in our body that can help reduce inflammation, are needed for cell membranes, for nervous system development, and for many other functions in the body.
Most other oils and fats, in contrast, contain more of the omega-6 configuration that tends to be more pro-inflammatory.
The vegetable oil craze. A horrible dietary change has been the substitution of cheap soy, corn and other vegetable oils for the traditional fats used for cooking and frying. These oils are less healthful because they are highly refined.
They are also far lower in the critical omega-3 fatty acids than traditional fats such as tallow from grass-fed cows and even lard that used to be used more often, but today is not very rich in omega-3 fatty acids either because the pigs are fed mainly corn and are not grass-fed.
Today all livestock tend to be fed corn, which is much lower in the omega-3 fatty acids. Only purely grass-fed animals, totally free-ranging chickens and wild game have much omega-3 fatty acids. These sources are just not sufficient today for most people. This is why I suggest everyone supplement their diet with a fish oil supplement. I do not like the flaxseed oil supplements as much, or the krill oil supplements. These don’t seem to work as well, and krill may be a little toxic. This is a very important topic today.
The rancidity of oils. Vegetable oils have another problem in that they are often somewhat rancid. Rancid oils are hard on the liver and somewhat toxic.
Most vegetable oils are refined, and this damages them, but helps them not to go rancid as fast. This is one of the main reasons they are refined. However, they still go rancid after a number of months.
Be especially careful with raw vegetable oils such as flaxseed and hempseed oils. These can go rancid the fastest, and you may not even realize it, as they have a slightly bitter taste anyway. Any older oils should not be used for this reason.
Olive oil is one of the few that does not go rancid very quickly. However, even olive oil should not be used past its expiration date.
Reused and overheated oils. Most vegetables oils can form highly toxic chemicals when reused over and over, as they are in some restaurants. The worst places to eat are usually chain restaurants that are more interested in profits than in food safety. Saturated frying fats such as chicken fat, lard, butter or coconut oil are much more stable at high temperatures. However, these are not used today as they are more costly than vegetable oils.
Frying, by the way, is not all bad. It actually holds in certain nutrients and properties of foods quite well. It is okay once in a while, providing that you know that the oil or butter used is fresh and not old.
Cholesterol is an essential fat compound manufactured in our livers that is needed to make all of the sex hormones and steroid hormones. It is mainly made in our bodies. However, a little, relatively speaking, is found in animal fats.
Odd as it sounds, I have seen a number of vegetarian patients with high serum cholesterol, although they ate no cholesterol at all. The reasons are explained below and in the article referred to below.
Saturated fat is not the same as cholesterol. Coconut and palm oil, for example, are quite saturated fats (solid at room temperature) but contain no cholesterol. This is because they are vegetable products and only animal fats contain any cholesterol at all.
Eating cholesterol does not necessarily raise blood cholesterol and does not automatically clog your arteries. In fact, the connection between elevated cholesterol and heart disease is much more tenuous and tentative than we are led to believe. Some studies show no correlation at all between high levels of cholesterol in the blood and coronary heart disease.
It now appears that much better methods of monitoring the condition of your arteries are by testing for elevated homocysteine, C-reactive protein (which measures inflammation), and non-invasive tests such as an ultrasound or Doppler test for arterial blockage can also be done.
Minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, cadmium and others may also build up in the arteries and contribute to heart disease.
These can, at times, be revealed on a hair mineral analysis or perhaps with a urine metals challenge test using EDTA. I believe these methods are much better than checking cholesterol if one suspects or wishes to prevent heart disease.
An elevated cholesterol level in the blood is not good, but of itself is not a serious problem. It is mainly a liver stress indicator. It will come down on its own, in my experience, as one’s general health improves on a nutritional balancing healing program based on hair mineral testing.
A recent medical nightmare is the widespread use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, often called “statin drugs”. Their names include Zocor, Lovastatin, Mevacor, Crestor and a dozen others from different companies. They are all basically similar to each other. The word “statin” is a misnomer as the drugs have nothing to do with stasis. It is just another lie of the pharmaceutical industry to increase sales of these quite awful drugs that kill people regularly.
These are now prescribed to millions of Americans and others worldwide. They have few benefits in most studies and are quite costly.
The adverse effects of the statin drugs are often much worse than the elevated cholesterol. In fact, one of the “adverse effects” of these drugs includes heart attacks, the very condition these drugs are supposed to prevent. So I advise everyone to avoid these drugs completely if you value your health at all.
If a doctor suggests that you take a drug to lower your cholesterol, here are my suggestions:
1. A mildly elevated cholesterol level is not a cause for concern in my opinion. It is usually a stress indicator and that is all.
2. Before considering dangerous drug therapy, which is the truth about the statin drugs, first try natural methods for lowering cholesterol. The most complete and reliable method is a nutritional balancing program.
However, simple, symptomatic remedies such as red rice yeast, chromium, or more fiber may help. I do not recommend any niacin, however, in any form. In doses above about 100 mg daily, it may build up in the liver, even if it controls cholesterol.
However, I don’t recommend these remedies very much, as none of them correct the cause of the elevated cholesterol. Overall, the cholesterol debate has ruined the reputation of many wonderful fats and oils such as egg yolk and meat fats. This has been most unfortunate for the health of millions of people.
VEGETARIANS USUALLY DEFICIENT IN ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
In general, vegetarians often do not obtain enough quality fats and oils for proper nutrition due to their limited diets. By avoiding animal fats, most vegetarians cannot eat enough of the right fats and oils to be as healthy as they could be.
Vegan fats include avocado, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and vegetable oils. Flaxeed and hempseed oils can provide most of the omega-3 fatty acids a person needs if one eats them daily. The seeds themselves are not enough. One must have a tablespoon or more of the oils. Lacto-ova vegetarian fats include eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt. These, if raw and fresh, add more good sources of high quality fats.
I encourage all vegetarians to at least eat eggs and, if possible, unpasteurized goat dairy products or sardines to get enough high-quality fats into their diets. Otherwise, vegetarians are extremely prone to fatty acid imbalances, particularly a lack of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin found almost exclusively in animal fats.
Symptoms of omega-3 deficiency include rashes, dry skin, boils, joint pain, irritability, mental problems and much more. This is an important reason why I do not recommend vegetarian diets, though it is just one reason why these diets are today not healthful for anyone, in my experience. For more on this topic, read Vegetarian Diets on this site.
WESTON PRICE, DDS, AND RAW MEAT AND EGGS
Dr. Weston Price, DDS, traveled the world some 100 years ago and wrote a wonderful book called Nutrition And Physical Degeneration. It has spawned the Weston Price Foundation and the Price-Pottenger Foundation. These do an excellent job of informing the public on some food-related issues such as the importance of raw dairy products, as opposed to pasteurized and homogenized dairy.
However, they also recommend eating eggs and meats completely raw. They also recommend eating raw nuts and seeds, and many fermented foods. Today, 100 years after Dr. Price lived, I cannot agree with these recommendations, though many of his ideas were wonderful. Here is why.
First, our food is transported long distances in many cases, so it has more opportunity to grow bacteria and viruses. This is why lightly cooking eggs and meats is absolutely needed in my view. Also, some is infected with parasites, especially many fish today. This is not easy to detect upon visual inspection. Light cooking or at least searing meats, fish and cooking eggs for only two or three minutes can help kill these parasite eggs or ova.
Second, raw meat, fish and eggs has a subtle quality that appears to be less healthful. I do not understand it, but that is what I observe in our clients. So please cook meats, fish and eggs lightly.
Fermented foods are also too yin today and quite raw, and do not seem to work well at all on our clients. For more on this topic, read The Weston Price Dietary Recommendations.
MENTAL DEVELOPMENT AND BRAIN FATS
Human beings are capable of much more than most people believe. Under the right circumstances, and by eating correctly, the brain actually grows larger and one can develop unusual abilities. This is discussed in more detail in several articles on this site such as Introduction To Spiritual Development.
Fats and oils play a critical role in this type of development. They coat the nerves with myelin, an important fatty substance that is needed to conduct nerve impulses properly. Without enough quality fats and oils, human beings will simply not develop their minds as well as they could. One of the serious problems in the nations of Africa and some Asian nations is that the food supply is low in these “brain fats”. People are forced to live on mainly starches and sweets such as grains, beans, fruits and some nuts. They do not have enough eggs, meats and dairy products to nourish their brains properly, so they suffer mentally, as well as physically.
This is a critical benefit of eating high quality fats and oils every day. This is not in opposition to the principle that slow oxidizers should not overeat on fats and oils. Slow oxidizers just need less of them than fast oxidizers.
FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION
Respected health authorities such as William Campbell Douglass, MD suggest that fats are one of the most important food groups. This is no doubt the case with growing children, whose brains and nervous systems absolutely require sufficient amounts of high-quality saturated fats for optimum brain development. It is also true of most adults, especially those who wish to have truly good health.
Obtaining quality fats and oils is not difficult, except for strict vegetarians. Good sources are fresh quality eggs, butter, meats, poultry, raw dairy products, some fish and to a lesser degree fresh nut and seed butters.
In conclusion, for optimum health and longevity, don’t cut off all the fat, have your chicken soup, cook with butter or high quality olive oil, and if you must fry food, use butter or olive oil as well. In addition, stay away from foods that say “low-fat” or “no-fat”, and avoid most of the poor quality, but tasty French fries and other deep-fried food, especially that served in most restaurants.
As a final note, stay away from any “statin” drugs for high cholesterol. Natural methods, especially nutritional balancing science, will help to lower an elevated cholesterol without the need for toxic drugs.
1. Fallon, S., Nourishing Traditions, New Trends Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2001.
2. Douglass, W.C., Real Health Breakthroughs Newsletter, Vol. 5, #10, March 2006.
3. www.health-heart.org/causes.htm (scientific studies about diet and heart disease).