I feel that one issue that people who come to nutrition clinic are most confused about is oil. Which types of oils are good and which are bad. Which type can I cook with, which ones should I avoid cooking with. With all of the different oils on the market where do I start? Over the next two weeks I’ll discuss this.
Firstly let’s talk about what oils are and how good health is as much about balance as it is about the oils themselves.
Oils generally come under the heading of ‘mono or polyunsaturated fatty acids’ which tend to be liquid at room temperature. These fats play the role in our cell membranes, allowing them to function properly. They also enable our body to produce regulators for controlling inflammation (hence they talk about the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oils and flax seed oil).
These unsaturated fats are broken down into their chemical structures and called Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9s. Not only is it important to get each of these in your diet each day but it is the balance between these three that is equally important.
For example, if you eat a lot of processed foods you will most likely be eating way too many Omega 6s in the day (read your labels on your jars, ready meals and packets and the word ‘Vegetable oils’ will come up again and again). In addition to this, in Ireland we tend to eat large amounts of saturated fat as well, which tends to throw this balance out even more.
So try to reduce the amount of vegetable oil you consume, especially the type that is highly processed. The more unrefined and extra virgin it is the better. Also try to consume your oils in whole foods, for example avocados, fish, nuts and seeds and olives.