Do you know what types of fats you’re ingesting?
Which oils are used in your foods and how they’re cooked is not always obvious, but could have a huge impact on your health.
For most health-conscious people, fried food has been on the do not eat list for decades. When I ask my patients how they feel after eating a fried or greasy meal, the most common response is, “I don’t know; I never eat that stuff.”
When I drill down and ask them to imagine how they think they would feel after eating greasy fried food, I most commonly get one of these responses: It just sits there like a rock; I feel nauseas; it gives me gas, heartburn, or bloat; it gives me loose stools; it makes me constipated.
Most folks don’t feel good after eating fried food, but, truth be told, if the digestive system is strong enough, we should be able to digest fried foods quite easily. In fact, many of my patients have no issues with fried food, and, for some, it makes them feel better!
Fried Food Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colon Cancer
All that said, based on some new studies, it is safe to say that a steady diet of fried food is unhealthy at best, and that being careful about which oils you cook with is crucial. In a study in the American Association for Cancer Research, researchers found that a steady diet of fried food in mice induced colitis while exaggerating risk of inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. In fact, tumors doubled in size from the control group to the study group.
The study found frying food in oil impaired intestinal barrier function, also known as leaky gut syndrome. It enhanced passage of toxic lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and bacteria from the gut wall into the blood, lymph, and systemic circulation, increasing tissue inflammation throughout the body.
Fact: up until this study, the harmful effects of fried food had been inconclusive, which may explain why it is still allowed to be served around the world.
For their experiments, researchers used canola oil, used widely in America for frying. Their hypothesis was that polyunsaturated fatty acids found in most vegetable-based cooking oils would oxidize or become damaged when heated and would then be responsible for inflammation.
To test their theory, researchers isolated polar compounds from frying oil and fed these to mice. Results were similar to when mice were fed frying oil, suggesting that polar compounds are responsible for the inflammatory effects of fried foods.
Watch Your Good-to-Bad Fat Ratios
In the past three decades, total fat and saturated fat (as a percentage of total calories) has continuously decreased in Western diets, while intake of omega-6 fatty acid (bad fats) increased and omega-3 fatty acid (good fats) decreased. This has resulted in a large increase in our omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio, from 1:1 for our ancestors to 20:1 today, or even higher.
This change in diet over time is directly related to the rise in obesity, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease.
Studies also show that risk of obesity rises with consumption of omega-6 fatty acids and decreases with omega-3 fats. A balanced 1:1 omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio is important for health, particularly in prevention and management of obesity.
A high omega-6-omega-3 ratio promotes many chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma, whereas increased omega-3 fatty acids (reduced omega-6-omega-3 ratio) suppresses this effect.
Omega-6 Oils (Limit Consumption)
>> Soybean oil
>> Canola oil
>> Corn oil
>> Cottonseed oil
>> Sunflower oil
>> Peanut oil
>> Sesame oil
>> Rice bran oil
Omega-3 Fats (Increase Consumption)
>> Marine fish oils
>> Flax seeds
>> Chia seeds
>> Seaweed, algae
>> Hemp seeds
So, for overall health, healthy weight, and healthy bowel function, watch which types of fats you’re ingesting! As much as possible, decrease omega 6 and increase omega 3.