Everyone requires some type of oil or fats in their diet. But how much? And which type? In general, frying is unhealthy and should be avoided, except for special occasions. Olive oil is one of the better oils if you do need to stir fry a bit. Heavy fatty foods are not great for most people because our lifestyle does not fit in with that type of eating: we do not have enough exercise nowadays to balance that intake of heavy fat. Also, the quality of fats is no longer good. Butter is a healthier fat, if used in moderation (certainly more natural and healthier than margarine, which is a transfat and definitely to be avoided). Olive oil is the best: extra virgin is even good for cooking and certainly for salads. Many oils, however, are not healthy and turn into free radicals in the body when heated. Corn oil, soy oil, sunflower oil and even canola oil are not healthy choices and should be avoided when possible. In general, fried foods should be avoided, as they definitely can raise cholesterol and clog arteries. Contrary to what people have been told for years, frying in vegetable oils is generally not healthy and should be avoided as much as possible. . In fact, frying in animal fats can be healthier than frying in the highly processed vegetable oils we have in western society now. Those oils create oxidation and in general are not very healthy. I know this sounds contrary to what society has preached for a long time, but the latest research shows that vegetable oils (with the exception of a good quality olive oil) are very unhealthy! In fact, people with high cholesterol often managed to lower their LDL cholesterol considerably just by cutting out foods fried in vegetable oils . Why is that? Because frying foods with cholesterol causes oxidized LDL cholesterol, which then makes that cholesterol more damaging at a cellular level. LDL cholesterol on it’s own is not necessarily problematic. The body needs cholesterol (LDL and HDL) for proper optimal functioning. Cholesterol becomes problematic when it oxidizes. I believe frying should be avoided, other than perhaps a tiny bit of oil used to saute some vegetables or cook an egg.
We need to consider not only the food or fat consumed, but the manner in which it is consumed. Cheese can be high in fat and yet it depends what type of cheese is eaten and where it comes from. Studies have shown that places like France, where people consume high amounts of animal fats like butter and fatty cheese, have far less coronary disease than America. So it seems animal fats, if of good quality, are not such a problem. In fact, they are easy to digest and do not cause the itchy skin that fried food often causes. Nevertheless, I do believe animal fats are not healthy in large amounts. For example, very fatty steaks from American cows that are grain fed is not good. Butter from grass fed cows is good in moderation. So again, it depends on which type of fat . To completely discard all animal fats as being saturated and unhealthy, is a big mistake that many americans make. In Russia, for example, people used to eat black bread with butter. The butter provided necessary nutrients that prevented many health issues. Everything has it’s place and use . It also depends on amounts consumed: everything eaten in moderation, in proper balance, can be beneficial.
A way to counterbalance oxidation is to increase foods in antioxidants (such as fruits, vegetables, certain minerals such as selenium (brazil nuts are high in that), spices like rosemary, and foods rich in the vitamin zinc). But even better is to avoid fried foods as much as possible. (Again, anything in small amounts on occasion is okay).
Animal fats can be okay in moderation, but the key is moderation. Butter, if it is a healthy kind, can be good but not to overdo that. Healthy fats like avocado and olive oil and fats from nuts like walnuts can be beneficial in moderate quantities, for most people, but do not use those oils for frying.
A high intake of any sort of oil can overtax the liver or gallbladder and sometimes result in different health issues, or in nausea etc. So even oils and fats must be moderately used and in the right ways. To totally cut out all oils is an unhealthy extreme which most people do not need. However, the small amount of oil our bodies need each day differs from the high amount most people consume through various products (including protein bars, snacks, chips, even breads and cakes…..we fail to realize how much oil is in baked goods or snack foods). Western society is used to eating very high fat foods. We need to change our perspective on food and what constitutes moderation of eating so we learn to have a balanced diet.