Every week I am posting about  everything you need to know about hormones. This weeks topic is about fat

Did you know – fats in food


  • Until the beginning of the 1900’s the fat mostly eaten was saturated animal fats, such as butter and lard
  • From 1909–1999, consumption of soybean oil in the US increased by more than 1,000-fold per person
  • Margarine consumption increased 12-fold
  • Butter and lard consumption decreased four-fold
  • Yet heart disease increased to the number 1 killer in the world and still is
  • In the past 50 years fat in the diet has been substituted with carbs, such as pasta, grains, sugar, and starchy vegetables
  • In 1960 approx. equal numbers of calories came from fats and carbohydrates (40% each).
  • When the low-fat diet craze hit people began avoiding foods such as full-fat dairy, eggs, and red meat
  • Substituted these foods with low-fat or fat-free foods, many of which had added sugar to make them more palatable.
  • The fats in foods have all the taste
  • Today carbs comprise about 50% of total calories and fats down to about 30% and less, especially saturated animal fats
  • Yet obesity, heart disease, and diabetes continue to be problems.
  • Counter to popular perception, carbohydrates contribute more to obesity and cardiovascular disease risk than saturated fat
  • The most saturated fat is not animal it is from a plant – the coconut
  • The word Omega does not mean essential
  • No food is purely saturated or unsaturated, there is always a combination.
  • Butter is classified as a saturated fat contains 60 % saturated fats, and 40 % unsaturated of which 32% is monounsaturated.
  • Olive oil is classified as an unsaturated fat/oil contains 13% saturated fat and 87% unsaturated of which 75% is monounsaturated
  • Soy Oil is classified as an unsaturated fat/oil contains 12% saturated fat and 88% unsaturated fat of which 58% is polyunsaturated Omega 6.

Meet Sally and get to know all about fat

Intro to fat week

Choosing Fish Oils

Basic structure of fat


Basic structure of a fat molecule

  • Think of a centipede or millipede with its long back bone and little legs on either side
  • Well that is what a fat looks like
  • A fat molecule is a carbon backbone with hydrogen legs attached to either side with an oxygen head and a methyl tail, which is also known as the Omega end
  • Fat molecules are called a chain
  • A fat is saturated when there is an equal number of hydrogen legs
  • Saturated fat chains are straight and very stable
  • A fat is unsaturated when hydrogen legs are missing
  • Unsaturated fat chains are bent and very unstable and contain double bonds which are atoms that share electrons

– monounsaturated = one double bond

– polyunsaturated = several double bonds

  • Double bonds are created there where the hydrogen is removed
  • The word Omega describes the carbon backbone number where the first hydrogen leg is missing, such as Omega 3 where the hydrogen leg is missing on 3rd carbon from the Omega end of the fat, which is the methyl-tail end
  • There are many different Omega oils, such as 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11
  • Only Omega 3 and 6 are essential, which means we must eat foods that contain them.

Types of fat

  • Saturated
  • Monounsaturated
  • Polyunsaturated
  • Trans-fat – manmade saturated fat also known as Hydrogenated fat
  • Oxidised
  • Refined

Saturated Fat Qualities

  • The fatty acid chains are straight which makes the fat very stabile
  • They are usually hard / firm at room temperature
  • They tolerate heat, light and oxygen
  • They don’t go rancid in high temperature cooking.
  • Making saturated fats the absolute best / ONLY fats to cook with.
  • Generate satiety better than any other food
  • The body primarily stores fat as saturated fats
  • Protects the liver from alcohol and other chemical, such as various drugs and over the counter painkillers like Panadol.
  • Medium chained fatty acids are the hearts favourite fuel.
  • Short and medium chained fats have strong antimicrobial effects protecting against fungal and bacterial infections in the gut and supporting the immune system in general.


Foods containing higher levels of Saturated Fat

Animal foods

  • Beef – called tallow – approx. 45 – 55 % saturated, 40 % monounsaturated, small amounts of PUFA’s mostly Omega 6, some Omega 3 but ONLY if the cow has eaten grass.
  • Dairy products – cheese, milk, yogurts, etc, approx. 60 % saturated, 32 % monounsaturated and small amounts of PUFA’s
  • Lamb fat – approx. 60 % saturated

Notice that pork fat is not on this list.

Plant foods

  • Palm oil – approx. 50 % saturated, 41 % monounsaturated and 9 % PUFA’s
  • Coconut oil – approx. 80 – 90 % saturated.


Qualities of Monounsaturated Fat

  • Lack one hydrogen leg, have one double bond and the chain is not straight
  • They are less stable in high temperatures.
  • They are liquid in room temperature, even in the fridge.
  • They tolerate less heat, light and oxygen
  • Are not good to use in cooking.
  • The mono fat Oleic acid / Omega 9 is the main fat in Olive oil, avocados, almonds, pecan, cashew, peanuts and chicken, pork and duck fats.
  • Humans can produce Omega 9 fats which means they are not essential.
  • Studies show that Omega 9 is good for:

– Cardiovascular systems

– Cholesterol – increases HDL / decreases LDL

– Production of bile

– Combats fungal growth especially in the gut.


Foods containing higher levels of Monounsaturated Fat

Animal foods

  • Duck and Goose fat – 52% mono, 35 % saturated and 13 % PUFA’s, mostly Omega 6
  • Chicken fat – approx. 49% mono, 31 % saturated, and 20 % PUFA’s mostly Omega 6
  • Pork – 48 % mono, 40 % saturated and 12 % PUFA’s.

Plant foods

  • Olive oil – 75 % monounsaturated, 13% saturated fat and 12% PUFA’s
  • Avocado – approx. 70% monounsaturated, 12% saturated fat and 13% PUFA’s
  • Peanuts – approx. 40 % monounsaturated, 18 % saturated and 34 % PUFA’s as Omega 6 (no omega 3)
  • Almonds – approx. 61 % monounsaturated
  • Sesame seeds – approx. 42 % monounsaturated, 15 % saturated and 43 % PUFA’s Omega 6 (no Omega 3)
  • Rape seed / Canola – 63% mono, 7% saturated and 30% PUFA’s Omega 6 – Rape seed GMO in the 70’s
  • Most seeds and nuts – higher levels of Omega 6.

Qualities of Polyunsaturated Fat 

  • PUFA’s have 2 or more double bonds due to the removal of many hydrogen legs
  • Omega 6 Linoleic Acid has 2 double bonds
  • Omega 3 Alfa-Linolenic Acid has 3 double bonds.
  • The chains are very bent
  • They are very unstable, don’t tolerate heat, light and oxygen and easily become rancid and oxidised
  • They are fluid even in the fridge.
  • They MUST be kept in the fridge preferably in small, dark, glass bottle
  • They MUST never be heated
  • To prevent buying rancid products the more you know about production and storage of the product the better
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the essential PUFA’s and must be obtained from our foods.

Omega 3 

Omega 3 (Alfa-Linolenic Acid/ALA)

ALA is a long chain fatty acid with 3 double bonds.

  • ALA is very unstable doesn’t tolerate heat.
  • ALA is the mother fat to the extra-long fatty acids Eicosapentanoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA) best known as fish oils
  • The body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but this is very energy demanding and some scientist believe this conversion is small even lacking in some people.

ALA found in

  • Hemp and Flax seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Leafy greens

EPA and DHA found in

  • Oily fish
  • Seaweed
  • Micro algae
  • Egg yolks (if the chicken is free range, grass eating)
  • Meat from Game

Important for

  • Controlling and supporting Omega 6
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Anti-blood clotting
  • Immune system – B cell production
  • Eye sight – retina can only use DHA fats
  • Brain – composed of high levels of DHA
  • Development of the foetus
  • Brain development in small children
  • Nervous system function
  • Together with DHA is essential for nerve cell membranes

Documented effects of Omega 3 fats

  • Reduce the risk for cardiovascular problems
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Reduce depression aggression, especially children and teenagers (remember the brain is 70 % fat and DHA fat the biggest component)
  • Increases learning abilities
  • Increases number of insulin receptors and thereby the function of insulin, ie. better glucose absorption in cells
  • Reduces inflammation


NB! If the diet is poor in oily fish supplements will be necessary.

Omega 6      

Omega 6(Linoleic Acid/LA)  

  • LA is a long-chained fat with 2 double bonds.
  • LA is very unstable and doesn’t tolerate heat
  • LA is the mother fat to several extra-long chained fats such as Gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and Arachidonic Acid (AA)

LA found in

  • Seeds – soy, cotton, canola, sunflower,
  • Maize grains / sweet corn
  • Nuts
  • Plant and seed oils and margarines

GLA found in

  • Borage oil)
  • Evening Primrose
  • Breast milk

AA found in

  • Animal fat
  • Egg yolks
  • Some shellfish

Important for

  • Inflammation
  • Blood clotting
  • Supporting Omega 3
  • Development of the foetus
  • Brain development in small children
  • Nervous system function
  • Together with DHA is essential for nerve cell membranes
  • Repair and growth of muscle tissue
  • Contraction of the uterine wall – menstruation and birth.

Overview of Omega 6 and Omega 3

Omega 6, LA – Linoleic Acid

Omega 3, ALA Alfa-Linolenic Acid

Found in plant and seed oils and margarine

EPA (Eicospentainoic Acid)
Found in oily fish, seaweed, and game

GLA (Gamma Linoleic Acid)
Found in Evening Primrose oil and Borage oil (good for skin)

Hormone PGE3

Hormone PGE1

DHA (Docosahexainoic Acid)
Found in oily fish, seaweed, and game

AA (Arachidonic Acid)
Found in meat and dairy especially if the animal is commercially raised

Hormone PGE3
Anti-inflammatory anti blood clotting, important for brain, eyes and immune system

Advice for Choosing EPA and DHA supplements aka Fish Oils

Get to know

  • Production time
  • Production method
  • Totox levels – amount of oxidation created when getting the oil from the fish and into the bottle

Ask the manufacturer

  • How long did it take from catching the fish, getting the oil out of the fish and into the bottle?
  • What is the totox level? – Anything over 5 is not good
  • Are the fatty acids in the oil – free/FFA, triglycerides/TG, reformed triglycerides/rTG or ethyl esters/EE. Best if the oil contains FFA and TG fatty acids
  • The levels of EPA and DHA, where science demonstrates that more DHA than EPA, is best. Best with approx. 1000mg DHA daily

My favourite oil

  • Pure Artic Oil from Eqology – chose your country and become a premium customer for best prices

– totox levels, never above 4

– 6 hours from catching fish to bottle

– fatty acids are FFA’s and TG’s

Refining plant oils

Although refining has a positive ring to it actually isn’t when we’re talking about foods

When talking about foods anything refined is actually processed, often with the use of chemicals and / or the removal of nutrients.

Olive, peanut, avocado, coconut and some sunflower oils, are cold-pressed with minimal processing and therefore the best choice

All other oils from seeds and grains are not suitable for cold pressing, and undergo many steps beyond the mere mechanical extraction to produce a bland, clear oil unfortunately full of rancid Omega 6 fats.

The Refining Process

  • Cleaning and grinding the seeds and grains
  • Extracting additional oil with solvents, such as the alcohol ethanol or other chemicals like hexane
  • Removing traces of the solvent by heating the oil
  • Refining the oil – removing colour, odour and bitterness by mixing in alkaline substances such as sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate, centrifuging, washing then heating again
  • Degummed which is removing fats called phospholipids and free fatty acids from the oils. These make the oil more unstable – read shorter shelf life. This done with heat approx. 85 – 95 degrees C.
  • If the oil is for cooking it is then bleached
  • If the oil is for salad dressings etc it is ‘Winterized’ which is rapid chilling and filtering to remove and ‘waxes’ which are saturated fats
  • Deodorization with hot steam 225 – 250 degrees C and citric acid is added as an antioxidant to lengthen shelf-life.
  • Packaging in plastic or glass bottles.


  • Is a waxy / fatty substance but isn’t the same as fat
  • We can’t burn cholesterol as we burn fat to make energy
  • Cholesterol is essential for life
  • It is responsible for 17 Nobel prize winners, countless pages in the scientific literature and the Press, and the installation of fear in health-conscious individuals around the world.
  • Is an essential part of all cell membranes where it maintains cell membranes permeability and fluidity.
  • The body contains about 100 g cholesterol
  • The body produces about 80% of the cholesterol needed every day, the rest can come from the diet
  • Production is primarily in the live but also produced in the gut, adrenals and gonads
  • ONLY animal foods contain cholesterol
  • Made through a long chemical pathway from a molecule called Acetyl CoA, which is the end product of glucose and fat metabolism.
  • Cholesterol production is started by the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which is sensitive to the level of insulin – higher insulin = higher cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol reducing medication / statins block the production of HMG-CoA reductase and thereby cholesterol production.
  • One the steps to making cholesterol is the production of Coenzyme-Q10 (ubiquinone), a major antioxidant and essential for cellular energy production/ATP.
  • Yes statins decrease CoQ10’s production
  • Cholesterol is the precursor of vitamin D and the steroid hormones (Pregnenolone, Progesterone, Cortisol, DHEA, Testosterone, Estrogens, etc.) and the production of bile.
  • Some studies show that cholesterol itself is an antioxidant.
  • Cholesterol is fat soluble and cannot dissolve in water and therefore cannot be transported freely in the blood – it travels on ‘busses’.
  • Bus LDL takes cholesterol from the liver to all the cells together with triglycerides, and the fat soluble vitamins A;D;E;K
  • Bus HDL takes the used / oxidised cholesterol from all the cells back to the liver together with other fat-soluble waste products that will be metabolised in the liver to water soluble molecules ready for excretion.

Questions? Please don't hesitate to contact me

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