2. Eliminate or drastically reduce trans fats and vegetable/seed oils…
This is probably not a surprise when it comes to the trans fats, but many are surprised to know that most industrial vegetable and seed oils are really bad for your health. They came into popularity early last century, and took off, particularly in the 1960s & 70s, when people were convinced of the supposed detriment of animal fat. As a result, many blame the increased rates of heart disease on these manufactured fats.
Trans fats (hydrogenated fats) are the big, bad one right now, and are being blamed by many to be a major, if not the main, factor in heart disease. Known as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat/oil, basically these are manufactured by injecting nickel and hydrogen atoms into a polyunsaturated fat, with a little bleach and coloring, creating a product that either looks and acts like saturated fat and/or gives majorly extended shelf life.
There is nothing about these fats that our bodies know and or can deal with well. There is much metabolic derangement and consumption of these fats can lead to a number of problems including higher risk of heart disease & diabetes, hormonal disruption, immune system damage, increased risk of allergies & asthma and interference with healthy fat metabolism.
So the bottom line with trans fats- stay away. These are like sweeteners, they are everywhere. If you see “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oil/fat in the ingredients, stay away. Soy/soybean oil and canola oil are in this category because they contain some trans fats, however government regulations allow these to often be labeled as trans fat free if it falls below a certain serving size. You can usually find trans fats in packaged goods and fast foods- in general, if a product has shelf life, it likely has something bad in there to help it stay fresh. But look for these everywhere. For example, many nut/seed companies roast the nuts & seeds in canola or soybean oil. Staying aware is key.
Vegetable oils and seed oils are right behind although not quite as damaging. Many people still think vegetable oils are good, due to immense commercial demonizing of animal fats and their source: vegetables and seeds. Unfortunately, vegetables don’t have much naturally occurring fat so they are processed immensely to create a fat -chemical extraction (usually with hexane), heating, bleaching, deodorizing and often much more). Seed oils have a little more fat to start with but often go through a very similar process to extract it, creating a similarly unnatural product. These unnatural fats/oils are full of inflammatory properties and have become the antithesis to health. The big ones are soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut and cottonseed oils. These oils contribute negatively to health, in particular due to their rancidity and atherogenic (arterial) impacts. One of the main reasons for avoiding these fats is the high amounts of omega 6 fat they contain. Although necessary to our diet, omega 6 fats cause inflammation when consumed out of balance with omega 3. Since omega 3 (the balancing fat to omega 6) intake is typically not high, over consumption of omega 6 can lead to many of the same health problems as the trans fats. They are particularly dangerous when oxidized -exposure to light, heat or air- rendering them very inflammatory. So, if you can avoid it, do not use them at all, particularly when cooking and especially when frying. As you can guess, commercially fried foods (e.g. french fries, fried chicken) are cooked in these types of fats and oils (they actually used to use animal fat, which is much healthy for you as it turns out). To make things even worse, these oils and fats are used over and over again and become more toxic each use. In general the same rules apply, look for these everywhere. They are easy and cheap ways to add flavor and substance to food products.
So, what oils/fats can you use in place?
The best for cooking are coconut oil, palm/palm kernel oil and animal fats -including butter/ghee (particularly from grass fed sources), beef tallow, pork lard, and duck fat.
Dressings with olive oil, avocado or macadamia oil (primarily monounsaturated fat but still ideal to keep safe from heat, light and air).
So, all in all, be very aware of the fats you are consuming. If they are from any of the ones mentioned, think twice and preferrably look for a more naturally occurring fat.
Once again, let me know if you have any questions.