HEALTHY FATS YOU SAY?
Well, here at The Real Coconut HQ, fats are a subject we find ourselves discussing often, looking at how to incorporate only beneficial fats and oils into our food and drink menu recipes and products, because we deeply believe in their healing properties.
Yep, healing properties...we said it...fats are essential for good health. Fats are made up of fatty acids which are the main components of all our cell membranes, as well as the membranes of subcellular organelles that live inside the cell, so they are extremely important for the construction and maintenance of all cells. After all, a healthy cell leads to a healthy, grandiose version of you. Feed your cell what it needs to thrive if you really want to experience optimal well being. Treat these little beauties well and they won’t let you down.
AND WHAT ABOUT COOKING FATS?
We currently only cook our dishes in coconut oil, avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil (if cooking at a low temperature). This is because the coconut and avocado oils are highly saturated fats which have relatively high smoke points and are therefore resistant to oxidation. Saturated fatty acids are fatty acids which are completely saturated in hydrogen atoms so the inner carbon bonds are not exposed to light, heat & oxygen, meaning they do not oxidise easily. Highly saturated fats include coconut oil, ghee, animal fats and palm oil.
When certain fats react with heat, light and air, they can oxidise which then leads to the production of free radicals. This happens more easily with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which is why they are not always great for cooking. Most vegetable and nut oils come under this category. It is best to enjoy the benefits of these fats by eating the whole foods, but an organic, cold pressed oil can also be enjoyed cold as a tasty salad dressing.
Back to the saturated ones...
Saturated fats can vary in length. The shorter the saturated fatty acid the more readily it burns, or oxidises, and the easier it is to digest and metabolise. Shorter chain fatty acids are easier for the liver to metabolise and process so are a good option for people with liver problems or for when you need a quick energy fix. Short and medium chain fatty acids are abundant in butter from grass-fed cows, and in tropical oils, like coconut oil!
And have you heard about fat soluble vitamins?
Saturated fats are also great sources of the very important fat soluble vitamins A,D, E & K. Fat soluble means that we need fat in order to properly digest these vitamins. According to Dr Natasha Campbell-Mcbride who developed the GAPS protocol (gut & psychology syndrome), saturated fats have a host of other benefits, some of which are: they actually protect against atherosclerosis in blood vessels; they are the preferred source of energy for the heart muscle; they are essential for a healthy immune system and are essential for the appropriate utilisation of the essential fatty acids omega 3 & omega 6.
Breast milk for example is 48% saturated fat, 33%monounsaturated & 16% polyunsaturated fat which beautifully demonstrates that saturated fats are essential for the human body. However it is still not advisable to go totally wild and eat absolutely loads of saturated fats, as if eaten in excess they can have also have contraindications.
Ok but back to oxidation, is it really that bad?
Well, unfortunately yes, as it leads to the creation of harmful free radicals, which have unpaired electron bonds making them unstable, so they desperately try to stabilise themselves by stealing electrons from other molecules. This destabilises other more important molecules in the body, which you need to be able to function properly. This then sets of a chain reaction of electron stealing which can lead to cellular damage. Heard of premature ageing? Well, free radicals are major players in this. Unless you cook all your own meals with safe cooking fats, then it’s most likely you will be consuming oxidised fats. Cripes.
Don’t panic, Mother Nature provides!
This is where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants will often hunt down free radicals and kindly donate one of their electrons to them so that they don’t have to steal from more important molecules. So, if you are eating oxidised fats, for whatever reason, then increase your antioxidant intake as much as you possibly can. This means eating an abundance of fresh, seasonal and organic fruits and vegetables. Yum.
But extra virgin olive oil is not a saturated fat?
Extra virgin olive oil is only advisable for cooking at low temperatures as although it is not a saturated fat, it is high in antioxidants which can protect the oil from oxidation. However, the oil has to be a good quality, pure, extra virgin olive oil for it to have a high antioxidant profile. The more recently pressed the more resistant to oxidation it will be. So always go for quality here...some things are worth splashing the cash on.
In The Real Coconut restaurants and in our products, we only use vegan saturated fats for cooking so that our food is accessible to everyone. However, you can also cook with saturated animal fats to also avoid oxidation. Animal fats are saturated and have high smoke points so are a good option for cooking with if you include animal products in your diet.
At home we are partial to slathering ghee all over our food (especially the plantain waffles we make on a almost daily basis) due to its many healing properties. Ghee is an amazing fat that comes from separating the butter fat from the milk sugars and proteins. It can therefore normally be tolerated by people who are sensitive to dairy. It is great for improving digestion as it lubricates the gut; fantastic for energy as it contains short and medium chain fatty acids, which can be quickly converted into energy by our cells; great for cooking as it has a high smoke point, and nutritionally valuable as it contains the important fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K.
We personally want to care for all our lovely cells as best we can and that’s why we only cook with these oils. So come check out our venues and eat some tasty food that supports you and your honourable little cells.