By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
Recently, Michelle Roberts, BBC Health reporter, onBBC News report, claimed that eating fried food may not be bad for the heart, as long as you use olive or sunflower oil, study conducted on a typical Spanish diet, in which these healthy oils are found in abundance, and not applying to lard or other cooking oils.
At this stage, I would like to elighten the readers that olive oil is mainly composed of mono unsaturated fatty acids, quite heart healthy, meaning having no influence in increasing blood cholesterol levels. Sunflower oil too is an unsaturated oil belong to the omega 6 type of oil, not so heart healthy when used in excess in cooking, and further being considered an 'inflammatory' oil, is much less healthy than the Omega 3 type of oils, such as Canola, peanut, Flaxseed, fish oils, among others, being more soothing oils for the body, and heart healthy.
The health reporter was quoting that this study was by the researchers at the Autonomous University of Madrid on a survey of 40,757 adults about their diet.
The participants were asked about what types of food they ate in a typical week and how that food was prepared and cooked. None of the adults had any sign of heart disease at the start of the 11-year study, but by the end of it 606 heart disease events and 1,134 deaths had occurred. When the researchers looked at these heart events in detail, they could find no link with fried food in the diet.
In the normal Mediterranean diet they boast of vegetables, fresh fruits, plenty of olive oil in salads, and fresh fish. Frying food is more in keeping with the Asian cuisines, much more than Spanish type of cooking.
Also, in the BBC report British fish and chips are discouraged, without realizing that the same cheap vegetable oils, including sunflower oil is freely used in frying fish and chips in U.K..
The smoke point of various fats is important to note because a fat is no longer good for consumption after it has exceeded its smoke point and has begun to break down. Once a fat starts to smoke, it usually will emit a harsh smell and fill the air with smoke. In addition it is believed that fats that have gone past their smoke points contain a large quantity of free radicals which contribute to risk of cancer. Refining oils (taking out impurities) tends to increase the smoke point.
Coconut oil too, the smoke point is 350F. Those having higher smoke points are – corn oil refined 450&; Grape seed oil 485F; Peanut oil refined 450F; Safflower oil 510F; Avocado oil 520F. and so on.
All the above oils, having a high smoke point are suitable for deep frying.
Coconut oil can be re-used several times, as the amount of free radicals formed are minimal, unlike most other cooking oils.
Lauric acid, the major fatty acid from the fat of the coconut, has long been recognized for the unique properties that it lends to nonfood uses in the soaps and cosmetics industry. More recently, lauric acid has been recognized for its unique properties in food use, which are related to its antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal functions.
Now, capric acid, another of coconut's fatty acids has been added to the list of coconut's antimicrobial components. These fatty acids are found in the largest amounts only in traditional lauric fats, especially from coconut. Also, recently published research has shown that natural coconut fat in the diet leads to a normalization of body lipids, protects against alcohol damage to the liver, and improves the immune system's anti-inflammatory response.
Clearly, there has been increasing recognition of health- supporting functions of the fatty acids found in coconut. Recent reports from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about required labeling of the Trans fatty acids will put coconut oil in a more competitive position and may help return to its use by the baking and snack food industry where it has continued to be recognized for its functionality. Now it can be recognized for another kind of functionality: the improvement of the health of mankind.
Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) in coconut oil, though a saturated oil, all 11 carbon atoms are linked with pairs of hydrogen atoms, are mainly harmless mono-glycerides and not triglycerides as claimed by naturopaths, and flogged as medium chain triglycerides (MCT oils).
Excess triglycerides intake is harmful to your body. Your doctor will want to bring down your triglyceride level in the blood as low as possible. It prevents good cholesterol (HDL) clearing the bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood back to the liver for disposal. Eating saturated fats other than coconut will increase your triglyceride level in your blood.
All oils, including unsaturated oils mentioned above, though heart friendly are converted into triglycerides and stored in your fat cells when taken in excess.
Eating fried food regularly using any oil causes obesity, and weight gain, except cooking with saturated coconut oil, because the major portion of the fatty acids are harmless mono-glycerides, never form triglycerides and stored in the fat cells. In spite, coconut oil makes you slimmer as the fatty acids are totally metabolized and excreted in bile acid. Hence, coconut diets are popular in the U.S. as 'Slimming Diets'.
So, cooking and frying your food with coconut oil is the healthiest choice.
Enjoy your fish and chips fried in coconut oil and not in any other oil.
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