Fat: man V nature

Fat: man V nature

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Fat, Fat and More Fat

Nature’s Most Impressive Superfood – Inca Inchi

By Cyndi O’Meara


Over the past few decades, certain types of food have come in and out of fashion. Everyone was taking Vitamin C 20 years ago, then Vitamin E, and now it’s Vitamin D. When it comes to protein, soya protein was once touted as the best and now it seems to be whey protein. With carbohydrates, whole grains and breakfast cereals were the bee’s knees and now they are passé.  And finally fats… the controversy just doesn’t seem to stop. We can get our fats from three main sources; animals, fish and plants. But is it polyunsaturated we should be eating, or monounsaturated? Are saturated fats bad, and what about the omega-3s and 6s? Should we be taking fish oil capsules for our EPA and DHA, and what should we eat for GLA and DHEA?

As a nutritionist, it’s hard enough to keep up with all the latest food fads, so for someone who is not constantly checking the latest research it must be a nightmare to decipher what appears to be right and wrong. I find that if you have a philosophy about your food and nutrition then it will help you make the right decisions and not be swayed by marketing and advertising, but by common sense.


Fats are very controversial at the moment, so let’s take a look at what they are and where they come from.


If we look back to a time before the mass production of animal, fish and plant products, the fat in our diet varied. For instance, in the summer when the herd animals were grazing on the sweet grasses, the fat surrounding and within the muscle meat was very high in saturated fat, then in the winter the meat would become very lean as the grass grew scarce and less sweet. How much fat in your fish depended on where you lived; cold water increases the fat (omega-3), while temperate waters decreased the fat and oil. Plants also varied in their fat content because they were seasonal. Avocados, nuts and seeds (polyunsaturated fat) were more a winter harvest. Fats were not constant in our diet but varied depending on the seasons.

The Paleo food community believes saturated fats are the best and that some polyunsaturated fats cause inflammation in our bodies. Conversely the western world nutritional guidelines say that polyunsaturated fats are better and saturated fats should be avoided at all costs. But if we look at our natural diet, we’ve been eating both types of fats for thousands of years, and both are beneficial to our health. Having said that, there is a caveat. Fats made by nature are the healthy options; man-made, highly refined fats are the ones you need to stay away from, including margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats, refined and genetic modified oils like canola and soya, as well as highly purified and refined oils like rice brain and grape seed.

Polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6, are called essential fats. In other words, we must eat them in order to be healthy. These fats can be found in plants as well as animals.

Inca Inchi is a Peruvian nut native to the Amazon. When cold pressed into oil, Inca Inchi contains the highest level of essential fats of any plant-based oil, with 86% essential fats, 48% of which is omega-3. 

Including this wonderful oil in the diet ensures that you are getting your essential fats every day. These fats have many roles in the body including cell structure, manufacturing of components that the body requires for communication, storage, and transport. They are also important in brain function and play a key role in decreasing inflammatory process and thereby decreasing the chance of disease.

Fish also have omega-3s in the form of EPA and DHA, but these are not essential as the body can make them from the essential fats we consume. Fish oil has become the supplement of choice for many but it may not be as good as everyone thinks.

The fish oil industry can be unsustainable and is often produced unethically. It takes 5kg of fish to produce just 1kg of fish oil. With fish stocks dwindling in many places, and the fact that much of our fish oil is extracted from farmed fish, the oil is often not of a good quality.

Fish oil is also expensive to produce and often other oils are added to maximise profits, thus diluting the quality further. The oil is also often put into gel caps that may contain dubious ingredients which are not regulated and often unlisted on ingredients lists. Flavours, artificial sweeteners and colours are also sometimes added to disguise the taste of the fish oil. The reason we eat fish oil is for the EPA and DHA; it has been touted as being anti-inflammatory, but with all the processing and additives the downfalls may outweigh the benefits.

Eating a plant-based oil with essential fats like Inca Inchi oil along with a weekly portion of fish (calamari, salmon, prawns etc) and eggs which are high in DHA, give us all the omega-3, EPA and DHA the body requires. Even without fish, a diet rich in real foods the body will make the EPA and DHA it requires for health. 

Diet is key when it comes to eating fats; it’s madness to eat a junk-food diet filled with inflammatory foods while consuming fish oil to dampen the body’s inflammation.

Inca inchi has very little saturated fat - it is mainly unsaturated - an oil that should not be heated. It should be kept in a dark bottle and a cool place so that it does not oxidise. When you heat this beautiful oil you destroy the fat-soluble vitamins as well as oxidise the omegas which cause inflammatory processes and free radicals to form, resulting in accelerated ageing. Inca inchi is perfect for making salad dressings, putting in smoothies, adding to pestos and making mayonnaise. It is a food, not a supplement. After all, it is food that should be our medicine. 

As for cooking, use a saturated fat as these are not light or heat sensitive and do not oxidise.  Coconut oil, butter, ghee and lard are wonderful cooking fats.

Visit www.changinghabits.com.au; they have both the inca inchi and coconut oil in stock to fill your cold and hot cooking needs.

Nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara uses her knowledge and experience to better educate consumers on the prominent health issues within society today. The author of the bestselling book Changing Habits, Changing Lives encourages others to build healthier habits through a better understanding of health and nutrition. O’Meara often raises the confronting issues of cancer, drugs and diseases, and emphasises the importance of understanding food labels, the effect of medication and avoiding ‘diets’. The passionate and down-to-earth speaker has completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in nutrition, and postgraduate studies in areas such as human anatomy and physiology. She empowers her audience to overcome their health issues through simple changes to their lifestyle, enabling them to live healthier and happier lives.


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