Is there really a big difference between Saturated Fats, Polyunsaturated fats and Trans fats?
What makes a fat turn bad and how can we distinguish between the fats we should enjoy and the ones that we should avoid at all costs?
The ketogenic diet prescribes a high fat intake, often up to 90% of calories can come from fat. But this doesn’t give us free reign to eat any kind of fats. We need to focus on consuming saturated and unsaturated fats –these are stable, unprocessed fats that do not oxidise in our bodies. Whereas polyunsaturated and Trans fats, these have been processed or hydrogenated, and are extremely dangerous to our health.
What makes a fat turn bad?
In essence, all fats start out with good intentions. Unfortunately, it is the mass production and harsh processing of industrial era fats that degrades the fat and causes oxidation in the body, the release of free radicals, which ultimately, can lead to enzyme destruction and even DNA distortion.
‘Free radicals are high energy-electrons that are involved in every known disease. They cause disease by restructuring nearly every molecule they come into contact with, converting biologically functioning molecules into dysfunctional or even toxic molecules.’ —Deep Nutrition P. 140
Processing distorts the fatty acids
For example, rapeseeds, sunflowers, sesame seeds, vegetable seeds in their unprocessed and raw form contain healthy and un-degraded fats. It is the high pressure, heat and chemicals used in mass production that distorts the fatty chains that then cause havoc in our bodies after consumption.
Catherine Shanahan explains the dangers of polyunsaturated, trans and mega trans fats:
‘Processing distorts the fatty acids in vegetable oil so they can no longer assume the typical five or six sided geometry. Like Chinese finger traps, our enzymes pick up these distorted fatty acids and then can’t let them go., which hampers cellular function so profoundly it can kill your cells. And if you eat enough trans fats cellular dysfunction will impair so many cells in so many tissues that the cumulative effects will disrupt basic functions (like blood circulation or your body’s ability to fight infection) and eventually kill you.’ – Deep Nutrition p.131
Free radicals from trans fats damage the arterial walls to the point where they rupture; the resulting clot is what we call a heart attack.
Furthermore, free radicals damage DNA and can therefore impair the health of your children and grandchildren.
Stable fats verse unstable fats
Heat, high pressure and chemicals alter the bonds in fats which make them more reactive and less stable.
Good fats are saturated fats or those which have not been processed with heat
The clue is that they are not seeds and therefore not heat sensitive for the germination process—if you keep that in mind, you can’t make a mistake when choosing cooking fats.
- Canola Oil
- Soy Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Corn Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Low fat spreads
Are vegetable oils worse than sugar?
Probably! Because at least if you are exercising you can burn glucose for fuel before it causes inflammation in the body. But the free radicals released by degraded fats cannot be completely undone; even large quantities anti-oxidant rich foods can only counteract some of the oxidation. Foods rich in anti-oxidants include blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, green tea, yerba mate tea, goji berries, dark chocolate and coriander.
This was just a simple introduction To delve deeper we recommend reading: Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food 2016 by Catherine Shanahan M.D
and don’t forget to download your free 7 day ketogenic meal plan – it’s full of delicious, easy and high healthy fat recipes!
And don’t forget to check out our shop with the latest ketogenic supplements!