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What you need to know about oils and fats by KTC Edibles Ltd Oils and fats are an essential part of our lives. Gram for gram, fats are the most efficient source of food energy. Each gram of fat provides nine calories of energy, compared with four calories per gram of carbohydrates and proteins. And herein lies one of the problems in our mindset towards fats. Fats have many functions; they are not limited to providing energy and protecting organs; if we consume no fat at all, we will short-circuit our body’s natural system for transporting vitamins and regulating cholesterol levels. Children should not have the fat in their diets restricted, since fat supplies them with linoleic acid, which helps them grow properly. When we eat fat, our body shuttles lipids into cell membranes where they bind to phosphates. These are called phospholipids. Phospholipids make up the barrier between the inside and outside of the cells. Phospholipids are also important because they’re used to make hormone-like molecules called eicosanoids. Every cell in our body – every cell in every known organism on Earth – uses fats in their construction. Without fats, cells would have no covering or boundary. By providing the membrane around all cells, fats are vital for insulating our body from the outside world. As well as being a necessary part of our diet, fats also act as carriers of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and the carotenoids. Without fats in the diet, you would not be able to absorb these important vitamins, and consequently be liable to symptoms of deficiency such as problems with blood clotting (vitamin K), weak bones (vitamin D), or vision disturbances (vitamin A). Interestingly, when comparing nutrient retention in strips of beef cooked by different means, it was discovered that vitamin B6, iron, zinc, and magnesium were better


retained in strips cooked by stir-frying compared with those cooked by microwaving or by broiling. Given the significance of fats in our wellbeing, we should not be surprised that our bodies are highly efficient in absorbing the fats in our food – 98% of fat in our diet is taken up by the digestive system! Our bodies naturally place a very high value on oils and fats.

There can be no argument: we must have fats in our diet to achieve and maintain good health. Beyond the health and maintenance of our bodies, we also have medical applications for oils and fats. Obvious examples include the laxative properties of castor seed oil. Doses of castor oil should be restrained. Large doses can induce labour in nearterm pregnant women and excessive consumption causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration; in extreme cases resulting in death. In fascist Italy under the regime of Benito Mussolini, castor oil was one of the tools of the blackshirts! Political dissidents were force-fed large quantities of castor oil by fascist paramilitary groups. It was once said that Mussolini was the only leader of Italy who owed his position to castor oil and not olive oil.

Happily, more recent applications of the properties of oils and fats are for medicinal benefit. Due to the erucic acid content of the oil, Mustard Oil is not classified as a foodstuff (in the EU, USA and Canada) which can be sold in the retail sector. This legal obstacle is a consequence of studies in rats undertaken in the 1970’s. Subsequent studies on rats have shown that they are less able to digest vegetable fats (whether they contain erucic acid or not) than humans. Before this process was fully understood it led to the belief that erucic acid and mustard oil were both highly toxic to humans. Today, it is accepted that no negative health effects have ever been documented in humans and that this oil has been used for thousands of years around the world without any problematic medical conditions being associated

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with its use. A four-to-one mixture of erucic acid and oleic acid constitutes Lorenzo’s Oil; an experimental treatment for a rare neurobiology disorder adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Interestingly, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore (the world’s foremost research facility for neurological diseases in children) has reported that KTC Mustard Oil had been tested and found to have many of the properties as Lorenzo’s Oil. Pure Mustard Oil is natural, widely available (the very limited availability of Lorenzo’s Oil is a source of much distress) and much cheaper than the alternative. It is pleasing to know that our products have been recognized and used by such a distinguished facility for children with disabilities.

The multi-facetted applications which oils enjoy often perplex nutritionists. The perceived notion that fats are bad for you has been engendered since the connection between diet and health was established. It is very noticeable that we, as a nation, have an obesity epidemic. Our waistlines are getting larger and we are carrying more body fat. The word “fat” now has many negative influences; it’s often used as a derogatory term. So the knee jerk solution is to cut down on the amount of fat in our diet. If gentle persuasion doesn’t work, then intrude on people’s decision making processes by taxing fat. But this is short-sighted and only serves to confuse the real issue.

Consider coconut oil. Here is an interesting product as it contains over twice the saturated fat of pork lard or beef dripping. Hence, under the taxing of saturated fats introduced in Denmark, there is a strong financial incentive not to use this oil. Saturated fats are very stable. That is to say, they do not break down to form free acid radicals or oxidise to become rancid very easily. This gives two desirable effects; firstly, when used for cooking, coconut oil will have a long frying life (if used over and over again), and secondly it means that when used as a hair oil or cosmetic ingredient it will not produce off (rancid) taints or cause personal

NUTRITION & DIET embarrassment if, say, used in sun lotions, etc... In the opinion of many, this pure oil is the finest oil for popping popcorn - one of the most demanding frying operations. Additionally, a number of anti-viral therapies are currently under development using coconut oil to help the body to produce antibodies. This is particularly useful in cases where the immune system response is weak. Some hospitals and clinics in London and throughout Europe are prescribing 3 tablespoons (approx 45ml) of coconut oil to be taken daily by AIDS patients. The saturated medium chain triglycerides which characterise coconut oil are also known to be the building blocks for hormone production, particularly those of the thyroid gland. It is common for patients with underactive thyroid glands to be recommended three tablespoons of coconut oil to be added to their daily diet. This stands simplistic perceived wisdom regarding oils and fats on its head and makes the Danish fat tax illogical. Furthermore, research has shown that a large intake of polyunsaturated fat may actually increase the risk for some types of cancer. The Danish fat tax does not seem to recognize any of this. The simple fact is, reducing daily fat intake is not a guarantee against developing cancer or heart disease. Our experience of the Atkins (low carbohydrate) diet has shown that fat and protein centered diets can promote an increase in “good” cholesterol compared to a low-fat, calorie restricted diet. There are no “good” or “bad” foods; only bad diets. A wider knowledge base is needed within the populace to appreciate the importance of oils and fats and the many roles they play in our lives. Fats do not deserve their negative, unhealthy, image. We need more common sense, more brain power – and two-thirds of the brain is composed of fat.

For further information on oils and fats or regarding any other KTC products, please contact KTC (Edibles) Ltd Telephone: 0121 505 9200 Fax: 0121 505 9229 Email:

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What you need to know about oils and fats  

What you need to know about oils and fats - article

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