what most people consider to be healthy is not, and what they view as unhealthy
is just the opposite.
I want to explain the differences so you won't be confused
and so you can make wise dietary choices. The following explanation is a little
technical, but I think you will be able to follow along.
Oils are composed of fat molecules called fatty acids. There
are three categories of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated, and
polyunsaturated. Contrary to popular belief, there are no pure saturated fats in
nature. The same is true with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. All
dietary fats and oils contain each of the three types of fatty acids. For
example, olive oil is referred to as a monounsaturated oil because it is
composed predominately of monounsaturated fatty acids (77%). However, it also
contains 14% saturated fat and 9% polyunsaturated fat. Safflower oil is referred
to as a polyunsaturated oil; it contains 78% polyunsaturated fat, 13%
monounsaturated fat, and 9% saturated fat.
You may wonder what makes a saturated fat different from a
polyunsaturated fat, and what is saturated fat saturated with? Here we get a
little technical, bear with me please. Fats are composed of hydrogen and carbon
atoms. Every carbon atom in the fatty acid can hold onto two hydrogen atoms.
When all the carbon atoms are attached to as many hydrogen atoms as possible, it
is called saturated. So it is saturated with hydrogen atoms. If a pair of
hydrogen atoms is missing the fat is called monounsaturated. If two or more
pairs of hydrogen atoms are missing it creates a polyunsaturated fat. That's the
The presence or absence of hydrogen atoms on the fatty acids
is very important in terms of health. A fatty acid that is saturated with all
the hydrogen atoms it can hold, is in a state of balance of equilibrium and is
very stable under a variety of conditions. When hydrogen atoms are missing, this
creates instability within the fatty acid allowing it to be very reactive to its
environment. The more hydrogen atoms that are missing, the more unstable it
becomes. Exposure to oxygen molecules in the air (or water or wherever there is
oxygen) causes the oxygen to attach itself to the fatty acid on the spot where
the hydrogen atoms are missing. This creates a chemical change called oxidation.
When oil becomes oxidized it turns rancid. Rancid oils are very dangerous
because they create health destroying free radicals. Free radicals are oxidized
molecules that set off chemical chain reactions that are destructive to every
molecule with which they come into contact. A single free radical can set up a
chain reaction that can destroy thousands of molecules in seconds. When we eat
oxidized fats we are eating substances that set off thousands of free-radical
chain reactions in our bodies, which damage and weaken hundreds of thousands, if
not millions, of cells. Free radicals are the primary cause of cancer and have
been identified as the cause, or at least a contributing factor, in over 60
common diseases. So you see, they are not your friends and you need to avoid
In the next issue I will tell you which oils are most
vulnerable to oxidation and which ones you need to avoid.
Dr. Bruce Fife is a certified nutritionist
and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. He has written 18 books and serves as
the publisher of Piccadilly Books/Health Wise Publications.
The Healing Crisis
by Bruce Fife, N.D. is available for $6.50 and his audio tape
Understanding the Healing Crisis
is $3.00 each or 10 for $22.00.
Order copies to
share with your prospects.