Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Fats, Oils and everything about the trans

I heard that in last week's Spanish TV program Who wants to be a millionaire? a very interesting question arise among contestants and viewers too...

Question: Which fat is more caloric? 

  1. fried olive oil

  2. raw olive oil

  3. equally

Contestants' Answer:  50(fried)/50(raw)...(They didn't know... )

So today I am more than motivated to tell you all about the big F word (no, not than one...): Fat! 

 

First, the question: Fried or Raw?
Fat, no matter what source comes from has the same caloric content. 1g of fat= 9 kcal
Fried oil still has the same molecular components as the raw oil. Heating up the oil just affects the stability of the components and nutrients but it doesn't transform into something else with less caloric content.
So, to answer the question: Equally! They both have the same calories. 

Some would think that raw oil is less caloric than fried because it is healthier. But when we talk about healthier oil , some people believe it to be because is less fattening, which is not true. The nutritional properties are at its best when the oil is raw. 

So that said>  Lard, olive oil, saturated fat... All of them are equally caloric. 
Obviously, the nutritional properties are different.
Basically, if it is liquid at room temperature then it is a much healthier fat, if it's solid then not so good and it will have either a higher percentage of saturated fat or trans fats ( hydrogenated fats).

The most common types of fat you are likely to eat in your diet are:
  • Nuts, Oils, Butter, Lard
  • But don't forget other types of fat you will inevitably eat in certain processed foods (Read the label always):  Trans Fat. And this is for the geeks and curious: The tricks of Organic chemistry of fatty acids. The molecules can be physically in cis or trans position. The healthy unsaturated fat is CIS, by adding Hydrogen the position changes to TRANS and it becomes a saturated fat! The food industry decided to make this in vegetable oils to create the margarine with the monster trans fatty acids inside. Always Label check!
Oils

There is so much literature about this fats. But for me this a no-brainer:
Olive oil is all you need. There are many diets promoting very specific oils or fats such as coconut oil, which is another option, but it is unnecessary when olive oil is so widely available, and really, it is too good to be replaced by any other one!
One thing is important, better to buy good quality olive oil such as extra virgin from first cold pressed extraction, which means below 25C. Why? because all the other types are extracted at higher temperature and using all sorts of chemical solvents, resulting in much less quality and worse nutritional value


Nuts
Nuts are almost as caloric as any other fat or oil. They are a very clever creation of nature cause this tiny nuts and seeds are pure energy, concentrated to ensure all nutrients are ready when is time to sprout up.
Not all nuts are the same either. For example:
Need some more Calcium intake? Almonds are your best allies
Need to Balance cholesterol levels? Walnuts then.

So, just a handful of mixed nuts is all you need. Don't indulge too much on them.

Animal Fats

Not all of them are bad!
  • Lard: Where is it? Well in some recipes like pies or pastries you can still find lard as primary ingredient... so again :read label or ask in the bakery before you buy it.
 It really depends on the animal and the way it was fed. A classic example> Pigs fed with corn(farmed) vs. pigs fed with acorn(for good Spanish cured ham, Jamon Serrano).The fat from acorn fed pigs is quite interesting as it contains mainly monounsaturated fat, like the olive oil!

  • Butter or Margarine? Butter has been unpopular for years due to saturated fat content, but margarine was the devil in disguise! Trans fatty acids are proven to be even worse for your health than saturated fats. Now in Spain,the food industry has agreed to replace trans fatty acids in margarine by healthier options. Many other countries are also following same procedures. A big fish like Unilever changed its margarine's fats many years ago and Flora is now even a functional food, with plant sterols that reduce cholesterol. Thumbs up!




 


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