Lipids - which lipids to favour in our diet?

Lipids - which lipids to favour in our diet?

Lipids

Lipids are more commonly known as fats. 

They have many functions within our body: they constitute the structure of the membranes of our cells, they have an essential role in the transport of certain proteins and hormones in the blood, they serve as vehicles for fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K), they are directly involved in making some of our essential hormones, such as sex hormones.

It is therefore essential to ensure that we receive a sufficient supply of good quality fats!

There are basically three categories of fats

 1) « Bad » fats

These are the so-called "trans" fatty acids and partially hydrogenated oils, resulting from industrial processes. They are accused, in particular, of increasing the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

Trans fatty acids are being phased out from food by manufacturers in the face of the danger they represent, and these fats are already banned or severely limited in some countries.  To avoid them, try to eliminate fast foods, ready meals and other industrial preparations as much as possible from your diet, especially pastries, cookies and other industrial preparations.

The bad fats are saturated fatty acids.  They have long been held responsible for various pathologies (cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol, etc.), but in reality, this notion needs to be qualified.

First and foremost, our body needs a certain amount of them per day, so it is above all not a question of eliminating them, but of not abusing them. 

But above all, The saturated fatty acids represent a very heterogeneous set of molecules: they are therefore not all equivalent, nor to be put in the same basket.

For example, lauric acid (much of it found in coconut) has digestive, immune, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

You should nevertheless consume a minimum, in a moderate way, more so if you choose your sources well: coconut or virgin coconut oil, for the content of lauric acid; dark chocolate, for the polyphenol content; a good farm or organic butter in the morning etc...

 

2) « Neutral » fats: 

Olive oil. These are mono-unsaturated fatty acids. These are mostly contained in olive, in the form of their main representative: oleic acid (a type of "omega-9"). They are generally considered to be beneficial for health.

You should consume these fats regularly. You will find them in olive or macadamia oil, avocado, rapeseed oil. But also in oilseeds (almonds, macadamia nuts , hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and other pecans).

3) « Good » fats

These are polyunsaturated fatty acids.  These fats are said to be "essential" because the body absolutely needs them and does not know how to manufacture them. They must imperatively be provided through food, and any deficiency can have serious consequences.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids: what's the difference?

Monounsaturated = omega 9 (refer to "neutral" fat above)

Polyunsaturated = omega 3 and omega 6

Omega-9s have only one double bond or unsaturation, while Omega 3 and 6 have several, which makes them more susceptible to oxidation. In general, these are three families of fats beneficial to cardiovascular health.

It is recommended to promote Omega 3 and 9 and reduce the consumption of Omega-6.

It is not so much the quantity of these two sources taken separately that is important, but the relationship between these two sources, our bodies function optimally with a certain omega-6 / omega-3 ratio. And it is therefore this balance that we must ensure.

What is the ideal omega-6 / omega-3 ratio?

The observation made on this subject is alarming: the consumption of omega-6s in our modern societies is largely in excess!

Indeed, the ideal ratio varies, according to experts, between 4/1 and 1/1, while our modern diet provides us with a ratio that is closer to 20/1 (i.e. 20 omega-6 to 1 omega-3) , even much more ...

We will therefore have to act on two fronts to restore this ratio:

On the one hand, by lowering omega-6s;

On the other hand, by increasing omega-3s.

a. Lower the consumption of omega-6

Our agriculture having for many years favoured the cultivation of corn and soybeans in order to feed animals, omega-6s are found absolutely everywhere in our modern diet: in our cereals, our meats, our eggs, etc.

Conversely, grass is rich in omega-3: thus, the meat of animals fed on grass or the eggs of hens raised free in the open air have an ideal fatty acid profile. 

Start by banning sunflower oil from your cupboards: this oil is in fact overwhelmingly composed of omega-6s, and largely responsible for our imbalances. As many preserves, sauces or food preparations are made from sunflower oil, if possible, prefer those based on olive or rapeseed oil.Also avoid soybean, corn, grape seed.

Finally, you can also limit your consumption of cereals, which contain a good part of them, and which are not necessarily a preferred source of carbohydrates. 

b. Increase the consumption of omega-3

There are two sources of omega-3: plant and animal.

The plant source is not really profitable because the body struggles to convert it into compounds that are really useful to it. The animal source is much more easily usable, and is mostly found in fish, or in the eggs of hens fed on grass or flax seeds.

Favour oily fish, and preferably choose those located at the beginning of the food chain (the "small" fish), which will be less polluted in heavy metals such as mercury: mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring, etc.

Salmon can be eaten more occasionally (because unfortunately more polluted), and tuna should very rarely be found on your plates (or even be banned if you are a pregnant woman).

When the consumption of fish is not sufficient, it becomes very beneficial to supplement your diet with a food supplement of omega-3.

Refrerences:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/different-fats-nutrition/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322295

https://www.heartuk.org.uk/low-cholesterol-foods/saturated-fat

 

 


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