Healthy oils and fats – do they really exist!?

10. February 2016

Fat - The mere word carries a lot of negative connotations, and we think of it as the primary reason for obesity... but all fat is not made equal – or unhealthy. Rather, it is an important nutrient fulfilling essential tasks in the human body:

  • Fat carries essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and other important fat-soluble substances
  • Fat is vital for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K into our blood stream
  • Heat insulation – fatty tissue covers us like a warm coat, keeping the cold out
  • Fatty tissue protects our bodies, especially our internal organs, from impacts and injuries
  • Fat will always be the primary carrier of flavour

WHAT is fat actually made of? Fat consists of its basic material, glycerine, and up to three bound fatty acids. Depending on the chain lengths of the individual fatty acids and the type of binding between them, their characteristics vary: they may be solid or liquid, able to withstand more or less high temperatures, and they have completely different effects on our organism. A distinction is made between saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They should make up approximately one third of our dietary intake. How are fats structured, and what are the differences? Fatty acids are indispensable construction materials for human cells. They regulate the transfer of substances between the cells and contribute to the production of hormones. The crucial fat-soluble substance cholesterol contributes to the development of cell walls, hormones, bile acid, and vitamin D. But what are the differences between the individual fatty acid chains? The group of fats is generally divided into two main subgroups: 1. Fats with saturated fatty acids Fats with long-chained saturated fatty acids have a firm texture. Short and medium-chain saturated fatty acids can be spread. Saturated fatty acids are predominantly found in animal fats (e.g. in butter, lard, cream, cheese, sausages) but also occur in some solid vegetable fats (e.g. coconut fat, palm kernel fat). 2. Fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids Their consistency is more liquid, and they are found primarily in vegetable oils (e.g. rape seed oil, olive oil). Unsaturated fatty acids, especially the polyunsaturated kind, can have positive effects on the cardiovascular system. They can regulate cholesterol levels and support the function of the cell walls. This category includes the particularly important essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids occur in fish, linseed-, rapeseed-, and walnut oil. The best sources of omega-6 include sunflower-, maize corn-, and wheatgerm oil. The list of healthy oils with a high content of essential fatty acids is long and could go on forever. If you wish to know more details, please get in touch with our “fat experts” at OPW Ingredients. The OPW team has many years of experience – some of us were born with a love for vegetable oils and fats! We have established a trusted network of strategic production partners, who have also been in the “oil trade” for generations. What is the maximum amount of fat recommended to eat per day? Fat requirements depend on a person’s energy consumption. The DGE (German Association for Nutrition) recommends to meet 20–30% of your energy requirement with fat. This means that 70 g of fat are enough for an average adult. Germans tend to consume excessive quantities of fat. In particular, the intake of so-called “hidden fats” inside animal products such as cold cuts, meat, cheese, eggs, and dairy products is too high. Too much fat of the wrong kind does not only cause obesity, but ultimately other illnesses. So which fats are the “healthy” ones? Choosing the right type of fat and consuming it in moderation is essential. High-quality vegetable oils are particularly recommended.    Walnut oil – a basic nutritional oilWalnut oil is the foundation of this side of the nutritional pyramid. It contains valuable fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) at an optimal ratio. Both of these fatty acids are essential for the human body and must be supplied through food. Walnut oil further contains a large quantity of natural vitamin E. Walnut oil is available in a wide variety of different grades, ranging from cold-pressed to roasted or refined oil. No matter what your plans are – we have the right type of walnut oil for you. Olive oil, linseed oil, and wheatgerm oil also have very favourable fatty-acid structures and are highly recommended. COCONUT FAT – a truly healthy fat! Coconut fat is another increasingly popular, healthy alternative to lard or margarine. It is referred to as ‘fat’ because it is solid at room temperature. Thanks to its natural fatty-acid composition, coconut fat is particularly easy to digest and even facilitates the absorption of magnesium and calcium by the human organism. Its high lauric-acid content stimulates the immune system and metabolism, owing to the fact that organic coconut oil has a very similar lipid profile to that of human breast milk. Further observed benefits include weight loss and healthier cholesterol levels. The human body burns the contained fatty acid rapidly to convert it into energy, and it is not stored in the form of fat. A NEWCOMER among healthy oils: CHIA OIL Chia seed oil has the highest content of omega-3 fatty acids of any oil, at an ideal proportion to the omega-6 fatty acids also present. It is rich in minerals, fibre, antioxidants, protein and vitamins, so it benefits the metabolism and HDL blood lipid levels. With versatile uses in the kitchen, chia seed oil refines salads and vegan cuisine with its clear yellow colour and subtle nutty aroma.

Tips for using fats sparingly

  • Cut down on sweet and savoury snacks (e.g. crisps, chocolate bars, pizza) and ready-made meals – they normally contain large quantities of the “wrong” type of fat.
  • Choose lean meat (e.g. skinless chicken or duck breast, lean pork and beef, veal, game, turkey) and low-fat types of cold cuts.
  • Prepare salad dressings with high-quality vegetable oils and use yoghurt or quark instead of mayonnaise.
  • Only spread butter or margarine thinly when using it in sandwiches, and replace it in your daily cooking with high-quality vegetable oils such as walnut oil, wheatgerm oil, or coconut fat.
  • Leave layers of fat on meat when frying, so you do not need to add additional fat to the pan.
  • Stew, steam, and grill – these types of preparation call for little to no fat.

Besides whey and protein, our product focus is on oils such as our almond oil, walnut oil, the world of organic oils and gourmet oils, and vegetable oils in general. If you are interested in any of our exciting products or looking to incorporate one of them into a new project for 2016, we will be happy to assist you and look forward to your enquiries. Our TEAM of FAT EXPERTS is here for you at all times!

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