What Are Raw Fats and Why Do We Need Them?
Raw fats are fats that are uncooked and in their most natural state. Most people are not including enough of these raw fats in their daily diet. Instead the fats are usually cooked or added to a food that is being cooked. An example of a raw fat is the avocado.
What happens when fats are cooked?
When fats are cooked - as when you fry with an oil, the fat molecules expand. By comparison a raw fat molecule would be the size of a golf ball, while a cooked fat molecule would be the size of a basketball. The large cooked fat molecule will not be broken down as easily, allowing it to slowly circulate through your bloodstream. It is then stored as fat that clogs the arteries.
How does eating raw fat compare to eating cooked fat?
By comparison, eating raw fats, you have the benefit of a food that is rich in enzyme lipase which helps to break down stored LDL (or bad) fats. It is believed this can contribute to weight loss.
What are some raw fats that should be in the diet?
- Avocado - avocado is a super fruit with a multitude of health benefits (see link below)
- Raw Seeds - pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame, etc.
- Raw Nuts - Brazil nuts, walnuts, etc.
- Olives - olives are of course where we get nutritious olive oil
- Coconut - coconut water also has many benefits (see link below)
- Uncooked oils - too often we only know uncooked oils when we reach for them to fry thus destroying the health benefits and increasing the size of the molecules. Instead they can be used for salad dressing, drizzled over foods, added to sauces, etc.
How much raw fat should be eaten?
For a person consuming about 2,000 calories per day, 15-20 percent can be raw fats. This would be 300 to 400 calories. Raw fats are dense and offer satiety - making you feel much less hungry.
How would raw oils be added to the diet?
Cold-pressed organic oils can be added to the diet by drizzling them over your food, adding them to a prepared food, a sauce, or making salad dressings with these oils.
Aren't these oils high in calories?
There are about 120 calories in a tablespoon of oil. About two tablespoons of oil at lunch and two tablespoons at dinner would be the limit for daily raw fat. Fats are twice as calorie dense as protein and carbohydrates. One gram of fat has nine calories.
Many healthy oils are available: olive oil, avocado, walnut, apricot kernel, peanut oil, coconut oil, palm oil etc. (see link below for healthy oils). Be aware that many oils are super-refined and lack the nutritional benefits. An example is the next oil.
Is palm oil healthy?
Palm oil in its unrefined state is a rich red-orange oil and is very healthy. It comes from the oil palm tree of West Africa. In its natural state it provides vitamins and very healthy carotenoids - an antioxidant. Unfortunately, in the US it is heavily refined and is nearly a clear oil - lacking the nutritional benefits. It is most often used in commercial snack foods, and to mix with other oils. It should not be confused with palm kernel oil.
Palm kernel oil comes from the nut of the oil palm tree while palm oil comes from the fruit.
How can I tell if I have enough raw fat in my diet?
A diet of at least 10 to 20 percent is recommended. If your diet has less than 10 percent raw fat your skin tone will lack luster. If it is more than 30 percent it can put a strain on your liver.
I can now walk into the supermarket and pick up the oil of my choice, yes?
Unfortunately no, unless you read the labels. You have to be careful. When I lived in S. Korea and purchased their most commonly used oil - sesame - it smelled like sesame. Only a little was needed or the aroma would be overpowering - it was real sesame oil. Same thing when I buy a peanut oil in a Chinese supermarket - it smells like peanuts. American manufacturers have processed our oils to the point of little or no nutritional benefit. They are advertised as cooking oils. It becomes just fat with no purpose in our body. Most Americans buy oils for the sole purpose of frying - further destroying any possible nutritional benefit.
For this reason cold-pressed oils are recommended when you shop in an American market.
What is cold-pressing?
This is when oil is obtained through pressing and grinding the fruit, seeds, or nuts using granite millstones or stainless steel presses, creating very little heat (120F or less) allowing the oil to retain all their flavor, aroma, and most importantly - the nutritional value.
You may see oils listed as expeller-pressed. This will be oil pressed at a higher temperature but still a better choice than unlabeled. Without these labels in the American market you will most likely be buying a highly refined oil. This is not what you want to use in its raw state to make a salad dressing, or to add to a sauce or to drizzle over your food. You would just be adding artery clogging fat to your diet.
For more information about the benefits of healthy fruit, nut and seed oils, coconuts, and the avocado see the links below.