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Type 2 Diabetes and Children The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly FatsPosted: Thursday, April 22, 2004
In our last installment, I discussed the beneficial omega-6 fatty acids. Unfortunately, the average American is consuming too many of them. In fact, it is estimated that we consume 20 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The reason this is a problem is because omega – 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory; whereas, omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.
Since we are becoming increasingly aware of the role inflammation plays in our health and how it may be the underlying culprit of heart disease among many other things; and since 175 million Americans suffer from one form of chronic illness or another, the emphasis on decreasing the amount of omega-6 fats, increasing the amount of omega-3 fats and encouraging the use of monounsaturated fats like macadamia nut oil is crucially important to health.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Fats
In fact, I love this oil so much that it is the basis for my new diet book entitled, The Hamptons Diet which will be in bookstores in May.
Olive Oil: This is the next best oil that is the most readily available on the market. However, it is important to purchase an estate bottled extra virgin variety and it must be used within 6 months of being pressed. Expect to pay dearly for a fresh, healthy olive oil. You should look for cold-pressed olive oil in dark containers.
Flaxseed oil: derived form the seeds of the fibrous flax plant, contains both fatty acids linoleic acid (LA) and linolenic acid (LNA), and is one of the richest sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Because it is high in omega-3, it can provide a balance for all the omega 6 oils that are so common in our diet. Flaxseed oil should always be kept refrigerated because it can easily turn rancid. It is an oil I like to use in salad dressings. It can also be used on cottage cheese in the morning as a great breakfast. It has a very mild taste and is available in many health food stores. This oil tends to be more stable than most; however, it should not be used for most cooking purposes because it will denature when heated.
Evening primrose oil: has been used for healing for many centuries. In colonial times, it was dubbed the “king’s cure-all.” It is rich in GLA and other omega-6 fatty acids. GLA is a good oil to get in the diet because even though it is an omega 6, which are abundant in our diet, GLA is not. It is generally very heart healthy and its use should be encouraged. I use it with my patients to help reduce the itchiness and redness associated with eczema, symptoms associated with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS,) and other menstrual irregularities as a safe alternative to oral contraceptives (but not for birth control!). I have also found evening primrose oil to work well in treating allergies and colitis. This oil is generally given as a nutritional supplement to foods and not used as a substitute for other oils in recipes.
Borage oil: is high in omega-6 and I use it in my treatment of allergies and arthritis in my younger patients. Again, this oil is used mainly in nutrition supplementation form. It is too fragile to be used for many recipes, and should not be used for cooking purposes.
Peanut oil: This oil is relatively stable and hence does not lead to rancidity and therefore can be used occasionally. However, because of its high percentage of omega-6 fatty acids, the use of peanut oil should be limited. It is not that omega-6 fatty acids are bad for us, it’s just that we generally get too much of them in our diet. We should try to achieve a balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in a 1:1 ratio. To do this we should limit oils that contain specifically omega 6 fatty acids. Despite this caveat, this is an all purpose oil and can be used for cooking.
Sesame oil: This oil, which is similar to peanut oil in its makeup because of its high omega-6 content, is all right for occasional use. It adds great flavor to salad dressings and marinades, in small amounts.
Safflower oil, Corn oil, Soybean oil, and Cottonseed oil: All of these have the same properties, containing over 50% of omega-6 fatty acids with only a minimal amount of omega-3. Safflower oil contains over 80% of omega-6, and researchers are only now beginning to be aware of the dangers of excess omega-6 fatty acids in the diet. I believe the use of these oils should be severely restricted and should never be consumed after they have been heated because this hastens their oxidation and hence their conversion to a more rancid oil. Most commercially produced foods and food products use oils high in omega-6 fatty acids. Therefore, if their use is limited to outside the home, it will help us achieve a closer balance of omega-3s and omega-6s in our diet.
Canola oil: This oil has garnered a lot of press and is being touted as the new wonder oil because of its high amount of oleic acid. However, we need to look a little more closely because the omega 3 acids of processed canola oil contains trans fatty acids similar to those in margarine and possibly even more dangerous to your health. It was developed from the rape seed in Canada, hence its name. This oil may be acceptable for cold uses, such as salad dressing or marinades. Once heated, because of its high sulfur content, it turns rancid very quickly. I believe it is unsuitable for human consumption in the heated state, so don’t cook with it or eat anything that’s been cooked with it.
Margarine: This is the only other fat that bears mentioning in this category. About 25% of the unsaturated fat in margarine is turned into a saturated, hydrogenated fat. Another 25% is turned into a trans fatty acid through this same process. Trans fatty acids have been shown to raise the bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good cholesterol (HDL). This makes one more susceptible to heart disease. Consequently, I do not recommend using margarine for any purpose.
Palm and coconut oils: These contain 80% to 90% saturated fats. Since there has been so much positive press in the health arena concerning coconut oil especially, I thought it important to briefly mention. Although two-thirds of the saturated fats found in these oils are the short and medium chain fatty acids which are believed to be healthy, all of the scientific literature points out that the use of these oils will raise cholesterol levels, so it is something that I do not advocate.
Trans Fatty Acids
What Causes Rancidity?
The real harm from dietary fats comes as a result of the processing it goes through. Food processing methods, such as hydrogenation, changes polyunsaturated fats into more saturated fats. This is done to promote shelf stability, but the process also creates detrimental trans fatty acids (it has been estimated that up to 30,000 deaths per year are attributable to these trans fatty acids.) It is believed that the processing of fats, not the fats themselves, that cause blood cholesterol to rise.
The fats are relatively safe for human consumption until they are chemically altered so that they can sit on the supermarket shelves longer. The trans fatty acids that are created and we ingest then crowd out the good essential fatty acids in the cells.
Hydrogenation is the process that turns polyunsaturated oils into solids at room temperatures. This is the process that gives us margarine and shortening. Manufacturers use the cheapest oils--corn, soy, or cottonseed (and remember, these are the waste products of these crops.) They mix them with nickel oxide, tiny metal particles.
Next, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture to give it a better consistency. It is then steam-cleaned to remove its horrible odor and then it is bleached to remove its natural gray appearance.
Whenever I get into this discussion with my patients, inevitably, the older ones in the room will remember getting this product in its original gray form during World War II and getting a packet of chemicals to mix through it to get it to look and taste appealing.
Ask your mother or grandmother and I’ll bet they will tell you this very story. Now, it’s all done for us right at the factory and we’re being told that this is a healthy product.
Coal tar dyes and strong flavors are then added to make it more closely resemble butter.
In each of these stages, this food product is subjected to more oxidation. When it gets further oxidized, more free radicals are formed--something we do not want to happen. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? I am firmly convinced that the appeal of margarine must be one of advertising’s greatest achievements.
The oil is removed from the seed essentially by extraction. In modern manufacturing, it is removed at extremely high temperatures by squeezing the seeds under extremely high pressures. Both of these techniques allow the oil to be exposed to harmful oxidative processes such as heat, light, and oxygen (again, the greater the oxidation, the greater the amount of free radicals that are formed, and the greater the health risk.)
In order to extract the final 10% of the oil, these seeds are exposed to a number of solvents, such as gasoline, hexane, benzene, and ethyl ether to name a few. BHT or BHA (chemical compounds) are then added as preservatives, because the natural preservatives, found there by nature’s doing such as vitamin E, have been removed during the processing.
By comparison, MacNut oil is produced by crushing macadamia nuts in a stainless steel drum that is kept cooled during processing. This process is gentle, thereby preserving the integrity of the fatty acids and the numerous natural preservatives already present in the oil.
It’s time we examine the myths that we seem to hold as gospel truths, the biggest myth being that low-fat, high carbohydrate diets are the cornerstone of good health.
The second myth we must destroy is that processed food is good for us or, at the very least, not a threat to our health and well-being. The processed foods our children consume is wreaking havoc on their health. These foods are loaded with sugar as a cheap filler. I consider myself lucky enough to have been born at a time when food was still a nourishing way to obtain nutrients. I used to laugh at my parents when they bemoaned the fact that food didn’t seem to taste as good as when they were kids. Not only do I now feel the same way, but I can tell you how envious I am that they grew up in a time when fresh food was not only expected, but it was the only kind of food there was to eat.
The subject of fats is complex and often difficult to understand. There is so much for science to still uncover about the heath benefits of these essential components of our diet. It makes no sense to me to attempt to severely limit an entire part of the food chain (as is attempted with the low-fat craze), without more scientific discussion.
Fred Pescatore, MD, is a traditionally trained physician who practices nutritional medicine. He is the author of the top-selling book, Thin For Good, and the number 1 best-selling children’s health book, Feed Your Kids Well. His latest book, The Allergy and Asthma Cure will be released in February.
For five years, Dr. Pescatore was the associate medical director of The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine. Upon leaving his association with Dr. Robert Atkins, he started his own medical center with extremely busy and popular practices in New York City and Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Pescatore is internationally recognized as a health and nutrition; as well as a weight loss expert. He specializes in treating obesity and the medical issues associated with it, such as diabetes, and heart disease. He lectures around the world and across America on nutritional therapies for the treatment of these epidemics. He is actively involved in clinical research; and, has written numerous papers and magazine articles along with his books. After medical school, Dr. Pescatore studied in Southeast Asia, India, Japan, Africa, and Europe hoping to incorporate the best healing techniques for his patients.
Source: Diabetes In Control.com
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