Every oil, nut & seed contains a mixture of fats. But fats are all different, so here’s a quick breakdown.
What to eat
Natural, undamaged fats in moderate amounts. Let taste be your guide! Omega-3 &–6 are called ‘essential’ because our bodies can’t make them.
Polyunsaturated omega-3 fats
- Liquid. Not stable under heat. Ideally kept in fridge.
- Found in linseed (flax), pumpkin, hemp & dark green leafy veg.
- These are the famous ‘oily fish’ fats – fish get them from algae!
Polyunsaturated omega-6 fats
- Liquid. Stable only at low heat. Store in cool dark place.
- Found in sunflower, sesame, safflower, pumpkin, hemp, walnut, almond.
Monounsaturated fats (including omega-9 fats)
- Liquid. Relatively stable under low and medium heats.
- Found in olive, rapeseed, safflower, sesame oils, plus cashews, hazels, almonds and avocados (also rich in vitamin E).
- Solid at room temperature, relatively stable under higher heats.
- Found in coconut oil, cocoa butter, palm oil & peanuts.
What to avoid
Hydrogenated (partially or otherwise) & trans fats
- Artificially created by harsh processing or over-heating
- Found in many conventional processed foods
Oils & fats are the best carriers of spice and flavour, make for good texture, and give you that satisfying full feeling. Plus, they are vital for cell renewal, hormones, brain function, protecting organs, vitamins A, D, E & K, making your skin look nice and giving you energy. Around 30% of our calories should come from fat, with roughly equal amounts of saturated, monounsaturated & polyunsaturated fats.
Fry it up
The best way to eat fats is raw, in their original form, e.g., as nuts, seeds, olives or grains. Alternatively, pour cold-pressed oils over food at the table. But we all have to fry sometimes – try low heat sautéing with mostly monounsaturated fats, such as our olive, safflower or rapeseed oils, or possibly sesame or peanut (groundnut) oil. The very occasional high-heat fry is best with coconut oil. The same rules apply for baking.
As a general rule, the most ‘healthy’ fats are the most fragile; keep omega-3 rich oils in the fridge and never cook with them. And mind your proportions, we should eat around twice as much omega-6 compared to omega-3, rather than x20 as is common today. Too much omega-6 can stop us processing the omega-3 fatty acids. So try this:
· Use omega-3 rich oils in salads, dips, or drizzle on after cooking.
· Grind linseeds to make digestible & add to cereal, smoothies, etc.
· Lightly roast sunflower/pumpkin seeds in an oven below 160°C.
What’s so bad about hydrogenated fats?
These super-tough, long-lasting artificial fats are associated with major health problems when they take the place of ‘good fats’ in the body.
The tricky bit
It’s a double-edged sword. Sure, if you overheat nutrient-rich cold-pressed, unrefined oils (i.e., what we sell) they may lose nutrition, possibly create toxins like trans-fats even taste bad. Bog standard refined veg oil has already gone through this process (usually with chemicals). So cook on lower heats with good oils where possible, and you’ll be fine.