The Skinny on Fats
Health experts keep changing the story on fats. First we were told that polyunsaturated fats were better than saturated fats. Then it was discovered that refined polyunsaturates were favorite targets for free-radical attack. Next, monounsaturated fats took center stage and have remained in the spotlight ever since. The Mediterranean Diet, with its high intake of olive and other oils high in monounsaturates, offers several important safeguards against cardiovascular disease, cancer and overall mortality.1 While monounsaturated fats are important for maintaining optimum health and smooth supple skin, its the kind of fatty acids and antioxidants they contain that make up the real story.
Dark green unrefined extra virgin olive oil has a delightful full-bodied flavor due to its natural antioxidants. Not only are the oils of various olive cultivars distinctive, they all help fight arterial plaque buildup.2 Olive oil has a long history in Europe as both food and medicine, and carbon dating of seeds found in Spain have shown that the use of olive oil dates back 8,000 years. Gourmet chefs usually prefer particular oils for various uses in making dressings, marinades, and sauces for dipping. Olive orchards have now achieved a status second only to that of vineyards.
Macadamia nut oil is another designer oil that is fast gaining a reputation among chefs and health experts. The nuts originated in Australia where they were staples in the diets of the Aborigines. In 1881, they were introduced in Hawaii and in the 20th century, made their way to California where several cultivars are now grown. Like olive oil, macadamia nut oil is rich in antioxidants and contains the highest levels, greater than 80 percent monounsaturates, primarily palmitoleic (omega-7), than other oils. 3
Macadamia nut oil products found in mass market are typically refined, with many of the antioxidants removed. The highest levels of antioxidants in macadamia nuts are found in the shells. During cold processing, some of these antioxidants leech into the oil, increasing its antioxidant potential.4 Unrefined and organic oils have a golden color, pleasing nutty aroma and buttery flavor. Scientists have found that macadamia nut oil lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and may help prevent stroke.5 It is delightful on vegetables, in soups, on popcorn, and as a replacement for butter in baking.
The essential oils (fish oils, flaxseed, GLA, DHA), which are available as liquids and packaged in black bottles, must be stored in the refrigerator even when they have not been opened. You cannot heat or cook with them. Essential fatty acid supplements are convenient to take and have specific therapeutic value.
Cardiovascular and Nerves - Consumers have been advised to eat more fish rich in Omega-3 to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. However, experts worry that eating several servings of fish each week may not be safe, especially during pregnancy, nursing or trying to conceive. Instead they recommend fish oil supplements such as Omega-3 from algae, Fish Oil and Omega-6 from Evening Primrose and Borage oils.6
Anti-allergenic and Skin - Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory and blood lipid lowering potential. Moreover, it reduces platelet stickiness and prevents the growth and proliferation of cancer cells.7 Effective doses appear to be three grams of Omega-3, and 2 grams of GLA.
Pain Relief - A blend of cetylated fatty acids including myristate, myristoleate, laurate, oleate, palmitate and palmitoleate appear to be effective in reducing inflammation and pain in arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.8 In a San Diego California study of sixty-four patients with osteoarthritis, an oral preparation of cetylated fatty acids known as Celadrin significantly improved range of motion and flexibility.
Two other studies on osteoarthritis patients at the University of Connecticut, using a topical preparation of Celadrin®, showed significantly greater knee stability, improvement in stair climbing ability, balance and strength, and reduction of pain.9
Animal studies at the University of Minnesota have shown that cetylated fatty acids administered either topically or orally are well tolerated and rapidly dispersed throughout the body.10 Doses for the oral form are 1500 mg three times a day. The topical cream is applied two to four times a day.
1 Charlene Laino, Mediterranean Diet Lowers C-Reactive Protein Levels Medscape Medical News 11/19/03
2 F Visioli; C Galli; Antiatherogenic Components of Olive Oil Curr Atheroscler Rep 2001;3:64-67
3 J Hiraoka-Yamamoto; et al; Serum Lipid Effects of a Monounsaturated (Palmitoleic) Fatty Acid-Rich Diet Based on Macadamia Nuts in Healthy, Young Japanese Women Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2004;31 Suppl 2:S37-8
4 LA Quinn; HH Tang; Antioxidant Properties of Phenolic Compounds in Macadamia Nuts AOCS 1996;73:1585-1588
5 Y Yamori; et al; Dietary Prevention Of Stroke And Its Mechanisms In Stroke-Prone Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats- Preventive Effect Of Dietary Fibre And Palmitoleic Acid J Hypertens Suppl. 1986;4:S449-52
6 Laurie Barclay; Fish Oil Supplements May be Safer Than Eating Fish Medscape Health News, 1/28/05
7 Thorne Research (no author listed); Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) Monograph Alternative Medicine Review 2004; 9:70-78
8 Lorna R Vanderhaeghe; Get a Grip on Arthritis Mississauga, ON Bearing Marketing Communications, Ltd.,2004 pp 16-20
9 William Kraemer; et al; Effects of Treatment With a Cetylated Fatty Acid Topical Cream on Static Postural Stability and Plantar Pressure Distribution in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2005; 19:115-121
William Kraemer; et al; A Cetylated Fatty Acid Topical Cream with Menthol Reduces Pain and Improves Functional Performance in Patients with Arthritis Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research