All About Oils

By: Natalie Baugh

Fat often gets a bad rep. When in reality, it is one of the best things you can feed your body. Healthy fats have the ability to increase your metabolism, decrease your chances of developing chronic diseases like high cholesterol and heart disease, and actually take away those sweet sugary cravings. However the big question is, what is a healthy fat? Many are unaware that there is an array of fats you can choose from, some much better for your body than others.

So let's get down to it. As I said prior, fat is a wonderful tool to use in your diet. Yet, it can cause your body much harm if not eaten in the correct manner. Many have associated trans fat and saturated fat as the "bad" types of fat. While trans fat has been proven to increase adipose storage, the arguments against saturated fat are weak and thin (1). In contrast, research indicates intake of organic, unprocessed saturated fat can have a positive correlation with weight loss. To exemplify, subjects who began drinking whole milk instead of fat free milk began loosing more weight than before (2). Problems occur with saturated fats when the fats have been chemically tainted. Saturated fats are at their worst when they have been hydrogenately processed. Examples of beneficial saturated fats include grass fed organic butter, ghee, coconut oil and vocado0 Apart from saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats (MUFAS and PUFAS) are commonly used. Unsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature, distinguishing them from saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature. These multi-unsaturated carbon compounds typically include oils such as corn oil, soybean oil and fish oil from fish such as trout, salmon and herring.  Monounsatured fats are also often recommended and include canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sesame seed oil. While many experts will claim benefits for unsaturated fats, negative side effects have arisen as well. The beneficial effects of these oils include a high concentration of vitamin E, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acid. nfortunately,  six of the main GMO products include six MUFAS and PUFAS. The six oils are cottonseed oil, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil. All oils have shown to significantly increase oxidative stress in the body (3). These negative effects have not been related to some strands of polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil and fatty fish oils. Extra virgin olive oil is a common household oil that is highly recommended for use due to its high smoke point (465 degrees) and high content of omega fatty acids. Other examples of MUFAS and PUFAS that are recommended for consumption are avocado oil, avocado, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews and nut butters. 

Another strand of fat that has recently risen in popularity is coconut oil. Coconut oil is actually a medium chain triglyceride that has been proven to reduce adipose tissue in the waist. A recent study took 31 participants and randomly separated them into two groups. One group received coconut oil to use as a part of their everyday diet. The other group received olive oil to use. Results showed that the subjects which consumed coconut oil had higher rates of weight loss in a shorter period of time. The participants that consumed coconut oil also showed greater positive lab values when concerning cholesterol values. In the end, researchers recommended coconut oil to have greater health  benefits over olive oil. The study did not distinguish if the participants were given olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. 

  1.  Restrepo, B. , & Rieger, M. (2016).  Trans  fat and cardiovascular disease mortality: Evidence from bans in restaurants in  new   york .   Journal of Health Economics  ,   45  , 176-196.   2.  Jenkinson, A. , Franklin, M. , Wahle, K. , & Duthie, G. (1999). Dietary intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids and indices of oxidative stress in human volunteers .   European Journal of Clinical Nutrition  ,   53   ( 7), 523     3. Dearborn, J. , Qiao, Y. ,  Guallar , E. , Steffen, L. , Gottesman, R. , et al. (2016). Polyunsaturated fats, carbohydrates and carotid disease: The atherosclerosis risk in communities ( aric ) carotid  mri  study.   Atherosclerosis  ,   251  , 361-366.

1.Restrepo, B. , & Rieger, M. (2016). Trans fat and cardiovascular disease mortality: Evidence from bans in restaurants in new yorkJournal of Health Economics45, 176-196.

2. Jenkinson, A. , Franklin, M. , Wahle, K. , & Duthie, G. (1999). Dietary intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids and indices of oxidative stress in human volunteers.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition53(7), 523

3.Dearborn, J. , Qiao, Y. , Guallar, E. , Steffen, L. , Gottesman, R. , et al. (2016). Polyunsaturated fats, carbohydrates and carotid disease: The atherosclerosis risk in communities (aric) carotid mri study. Atherosclerosis251, 361-366.

Natalie Baugh