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Fats and Oils in the Diet: How They Can Help and Hinder Your Health
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1)  Fats to Function

It is common knowledge to most health experts that too much dietary fat can lead to disease.  There are numerous studies that show that a high fat diet puts people at risk for developing cancer, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, obesity and many other conditions.  However, it is important to remember how vital fat is in the diet and that our bodies need fat to function optimally.

The scientific terms for fats in the body are triglycerides, cholesterol, and essential fatty acids.  Fats are necessary for storing energy, insulating and protecting our vital organs, acting as messengers, and helping proteins do their job.  They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction, and other aspects of basic metabolism.  Fats also aid the body in stockpiling certain nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K, which are fat soluble vitamins that are stored in the liver and in fatty tissues.

As a direct source of energy, fats are primarily utilized at a restful to low intensity state of energy use (think walking or slow hiking, or taking this course!)  So when we are sitting and doing nothing, we are utilizing fat stores for energy.


"The cycle of making, breaking, storing and mobilizing fats is at the core of how humans and all animals regulate their energy.  An imbalance in any step can result in disease, including heart disease and diabetes." 

-Stephanie Dutchen. Posted December 15, 2010:


2)  Fats According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

In TCM, fats are Yin in nature and help to build the tissue, enhance fluid metabolism, and direct nutrients to the nervous system.  Fats also create a sense of heaviness and enhance a “slowing” or “grounding” effect.  That is why fats seem to be so valued or craved as they lead to a sense of security, warmth, or slowing.

One exception to using oils in excess case is the use of omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the harmful fat and cholesterol accumulation typically associated with a diet high in saturated fats. 

People who are typically Yin deficient or present with dryness, very low body weight, or who may seem “flighty” - lacking a sense of connection- may benefit from an increase of dietary fats.  Some practitioners use Omega-3 supplements like yin tonics.

On the opposite spectrum, extremely Yang people who may present with red face, blood shot eyes, high blood pressure, heavy, over-heated or have a thick and yellow tongue coating may benefit from a reduction of dietary fats.

Damp conditions such as tumors, cysts, excess body weight, edema, or yeast overgrowth who also benefit from a lower fat diet.

Overall, the TCM concept of a balanced diet is one which includes all 5 tastes (spicy, sour, bitter, sweet, and salty) and is correlated to the specific needs of each person and the season of the year.  These concepts must be reinforced even when recommending one macronutrient such as fat.

The simple concepts of warm food being more warming on the body and raw foods being more cold and damp along with cooking method theory, such as frying to increase Yang and steaming to increase Yin, must also be considered.

Damp and cloying herbal formulas

Lastly, if a patient is on an herbal formula that is known to be “cloying” (such as many blood tonics) and or that may cause digestive upset, a reduction in damp and cloying foods such as nuts, seeds, and animal fat can be recommended.  This will help the digestive system focus on breaking down and assimilating the herbal formula rather than nutrients from fat and ease stomach upset and discomfort.

Herbs and spices that aid in breaking down fat such as fennel, mustard seeds, ginger, and foods such as lemons, fermented foods can be added to fatty meals to aid in digestion as well.

3)  Fat Intake Recommendations

The governing bodies of nutrition such as the American Dietary Association state that the average adult can benefit from consuming between 20-30% of their total calories from healthy sources of fat.  Research suggests that sufficient fat in a diet may help to preserve energy stores from carbohydrate sources, enhance the immune system, and aid in optimal hormonal concentrations (especially testosterone) for recovery and growth and development.  Some people may choose to eat higher fat or lower fat diets and some medical conditions may benefit from either a lower or higher fat diet (this will be expanded upon later).  Total calories and a balance of sufficient carbohydrate (~55-65%) and protein (~15-18%) needs to be adjusted accordingly for an increase or decrease in fat intake on an individual basis.

The proportion of fat intake should be derived from the following:

Polyunsaturated: ~10%
Monounsaturated: ~10%
Saturated/Trans Fats: <10%

It is important to know that all oils contain all three types of fat and are classified according to which type of fat predominates.  The healthier fats are considered the unsaturated ones, which are the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.


4)  Healthier Fats

When choosing fat sources it is recommended that individuals primarily consume unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated).  These can aid in lowering the risk of certain chronic diseases like heart disease.  It its interesting to note that total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can be reduced by consuming unsaturated fat. 

It has been found that omega-3 fatty acids in particular may be beneficial to your heart.  Omega-3 fatty acid consumption has been associated with a decrease in the risk of coronary artery disease, protection against irregular heartbeats, and may help lower blood pressure levels.  Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids can serve as a source of inflammatory control helping with the pain and discomfort associated with those conditions. 

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docohexaenoic acid (DHA) are the primary examples of omega-3 fatty acids and are mainly found in fish.  EPA in particular can help to clean out the circulatory system of fat deposits and cholesterol.  Both EPA and DHA can be useful in helping to prevent strokes and heart attacks by reducing blood viscosity, clotting and lowering blood pressure.  Omega-3 fatty acids also have been shown to help reduce other inflammatory conditions (for more information on this topic, please refer to the course Diet and Inflammation on this website).

DHA is essential for brain development and has an effect on one’s learning ability.  The fetal stage is when 50% of the brain’s DHA is formed so it is crucial for pregnant women to maintain a diet high in DHA or supplement with DHA.  Interestingly, research has also shown that an excess intake of polyunsaturated vegetable oils (more on these later) which contain primarily linoleic acid, can interfere with the formation of DHA.

5)  Forms of Omega 3

Food sources such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, lake or rainbow trout are the best sources of omega 3. 

Fish oil capsules have both DHA and EPA. Another omega-3 fatty acid DHA is from algae, which has no EPA.

Moreover, research has shown that an increase in omega-3 oils and a reduction in highly heated and processed polyunsaturated oils like those found in packaged baked goods (which tend to be poorly sourced and often rancid), can also help in treating cancer, AIDS, heart disease, hives, skin disorders, arthritis, depression, poor immunity, bronchial asthma, and many other conditions.

Another source of omega-3 is through the fatty acid foundation found in seeds and nuts.  This fatty acid is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  The body converts alpha-lionlenic acid into EPA and DHA much slower than a direct source coming from a fish oil, but if fish oils are not caught and processed properly, they can be highly contaminated with mercury.  A reputable, wild-caught fresh fish or a cold-pressed wild-sourced fish oil is recommended when choosing a fish source of omega-3.

Best Sources of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) Amount of ALA
Flax Seeds 53-55%
Chia Seeds 40-62%
Hemp Seeds 20%
Pumpkin Seeds 15%
Tempeh 8%
Walnuts 5%

Dark green vegetables like kale, collards, parsley, chard, and wheat grass contain ALA in their chloroplasts and are also good plant-based sources of ALA. 

Flax seeds are a good source of ALA.  When using flax for a therapeutic purpose, (heart disease, high cholesterol, inflammatory conditions, etc.) the following is reccomended:
- 4 tablespoons of fresh ground flax with meals once daily
- 4 tablespoons of fresh whole flax (soaked in water four to eight hours and then rinsed) taken once daily with meals
- 1 tablespoon of a fresh flax seed oil that has been processed at a low temperature and not exposed to light or heat (stored in the refrigerator) can be taken once daily with meals  

In some extreme cases, doubling the dose of flax has been therapeutic for excess individuals or for people in an acute stage of a condition.  In terms of TCM, the presentation might be a thick tongue coating, red tongue body, red complexion, or strong pulse.  An excess individual is usually lacking the medicinal benefits of omega-3 oils and may be excess partly due to an overconsumption of poorly refined polyunsaturated and poor quality saturated fats.  The intake of omega-3's (mainly from EPA) will serve as a tool to help clean the circulatory system of cholesterol and fat deposits.  In other words, good fats can cancel out bad fats.


6)  Monounsaturated Fats

From a chemical standpoint, monounsaturated fats have one double-bonded carbon in the molecule.  Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled.  Oils that are healthier sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, hazelnut oil, canola oil, avocado oil, and other oils, such as almond, sesame, rice bran, and cod liver oils.  Nuts that are high in monounsaturated fats include hazelnuts (or filberts), macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios and cashews.

Research has shown that foods containing monounsaturated fats reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while possibly increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.  On that note, polyunsaturated fats can also reduce LDL, but they decrease HDL by an equal amount.


7)  Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats from a chemical standpoint are fats that have more than one double-bonded carbon in the molecule. Similar to monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and when chilled.  Since polyunsaturated fats have more than one bond (monounsaturated have one and saturated have none), they can accept oxygen very easily thus are prone to lipid peroxidation (rancidity).  Common sources are soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, fatty fish, and some varieties of nuts and seeds. 

Rancid oils create free radials in the body and can weaken the immune system and progress aging and disease.  This is why is it crucial to only use fresh and pure sources of polyunsaturated oils.  Nuts and seeds for example are best eaten freshly shelled and stored in airtight glass containers away from heat and light (more on this topic later).

The essential fatty acids found in polyunsaturated fats (linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) are beneficial in certain diseases and conditions.

Functions of Essential Fatty Acids:
•    Promote healthy skin and hair
•    Improve Immune System
•    Help to regulate the thyroid and adrenal glands
•    Help with growth and energy production
•    Promote healthy arteries, blood and nerves
•    Help with the transport and breakdown of cholesterol

Lack of Essential Fatty Acids May Result in the Following:
•    Skin disorders
•    Hair and nail dryness
•    Varicose veins
•    Low body weight
•    Infertility
•    Poor Immune System
•    Liver and gallstone problems

Polyunsaturated fats are those that are commonly used in most modern American diets, and also readily found in many packaged foods such as crackers, chips, cookies, granola bars, trail mixes, cereals, and other packaged baked goods.  It is most likely that the sources come from rancid forms of fatty acids which provide no health benefit, but instead weaken the body.

Also note that most sources of polyunsaturated fats are higher in their omega-6 content as compared to their omega-3 content.  The optional ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is 1:1-5:1 with 3:1 being optimal. This means that people should consume three grams of omega 6 for one gram of omega 3.  Sadly, the American diet is heavily weighted towards the Omega 6 side;  most Americans consume a ratio that is more like 20:1.

Common sources of omega-6 consumed by Americans
•    Corn oil
•    Canola oil
•    Soy oil
•    Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats
•    Margarine and/or shortening
•    Peanuts and peanut butter processed with an added oil (usually corn or canola)

Most of these sources are also heated at high temperatures, stored in clear plastic containers or bottles and exposed to high, heat, and sun that makes them toxic when ingested.

Lastly, polyunsaturated fats have been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease by providing more membrane fluidity than monounsaturated fats, but as previously mentioned, they are more vulnerable to lipid peroxidation (rancidity) as mentioned above.

Healthier Fats

Food Source

Monounsaturated fat

Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds

Polyunsaturated fat

Vegetable oils (such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils), nuts and seeds

Omega-3 fatty acids

Fatty, cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring), flaxseeds, flax oil and walnuts


Source:  Adapted from: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 2010.


8)  Saturated Fats

Saturated fat consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids.  Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between the individual carbon atoms of the fatty acid chain.  At room temperature, saturated fats are solid.  Common examples are butter or coconut oil.  They are the most stable of all the fats and have very few issues with rancidity.  They also maintain their integrity better than most other cooking oils and can handle high heat.

With the exception of a few plant sources such as coconut (more on coconut to come) and palm, most saturated fats come from animal sources.  Due to the fact that many chemicals and hormones are stored in the fat cells of animals, it is important that the purest and least modified (in terms of added chemical and hormones) be utilized in moderation to off-set the negative side-effects of those additives.  Terms such as “organic, wild, grass-fed, cage-free, raw,” are things people would want to look for when shopping for creams, butters, meat, eggs, and other dairy and meat sources.

According to most scientific research, less than ten percent of consumed fats should come from saturated fat, as this is the less healthy type of fat.  Excessive consumption of saturated fat has been associated with an increase risk of certain chronic diseases - namely heart disease.  Elevated levels of LDL  have been shown to increase from diets high in saturated fat.  Excessive intake of “trans fat” has also been associated with an increase in blood cholesterol levels and should, therefore, be consumed at less than ten percent of total fat intake.

A "trans fat" or trans fatty acid is produced by the partial hydrogenation of the unsaturated fatty acid vegetable oils. Trans fatty acids are present in hardened vegetable oils, most margarines, commercial baked foods, and many fried foods. An excess of these fats in the diet raises lipid levels in the blood. The term trans refers to the opposed positioning of hydrogen atoms when unsaturated fats are partially hydrogenated.

Excessive intake of trans fats have also been associated with an increase in blood cholesterol levels and should, therefore, be consumed at less than ten percent of total fat intake

Less Healthy Fats

Food Source

Saturated fat

Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs*, dairy products, lard and butter), and coconut*, palm and other tropical oils

Trans fat

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial baked goods (such as crackers, cookies and cakes), fried foods (such as doughnuts and French fries), shortening and margarine

Source:  Adapted from: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 2010.
*Components in these saturated fats make them easier to digest and can be considered “healthier” fats for most people.


9) A Note About Eggs

Although egg yolks are relatively high in cholesterol, numerous studies have confirmed that eggs have virtually nothing to do with raising your cholesterol.  This was worth noting, because this myth has been particularly hard to remove from our society, and patients need to be informed of the truth.  Research published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that in healthy adults, eating eggs every day did not produce a negative effect on endothelial function (an aggregate measure of cardiac risk), nor did it increase cholesterol levels.  Eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, and folate. 

Egg yolks are also full of lecithin, which is a biologically valuable substance that every cell of the body needs.  Lecithin is responsible for vital tasks in the cell membranes, especially in nervous tissue and can aid in memory and concentration and can actually positively influences cholesterol levels and hinders the formation of gallstones.

Once again, choosing organic, free range and grass fed is optimal when buying eggs.  Omega-3 fortified eggs are controversial as the source of omega-3 given to the chicken (typically flax) could easily be rancid therefore it is recommended not to spend the extra money on omega-3 fortified eggs; choose other sources of omega-3’s that you know are pure.

10)  Medium Chain Triglyceride Oils (MCTs)

Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are partially man-made fats.  The name refers to the way the carbon atoms are arranged in their chemical structure.  MCTs are typically made by processing coconut and palm kernel oils in the laboratory.  Most other dietary fats are long-chain triglycerides. 

Medium chain triglycerides oils have some unique qualities that may be able to help a number of people in different ways.  For example, MCTs have been used to treat the following conditions in a medical setting along with other therapy due to their ability to be absorbed rapidly by the body:

Diarrhea, steatorrhea (fat indigestion), celiac disease, liver disease, and digestion problems due to partial surgical removal of the stomach (gastrectomy) or the intestine (short bowel syndrome), “milky urine” (chyluria) and a rare lung condition called chylothorax,  treatment of gallbladder disease, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer's disease, and seizures in children.

MCTs are sometimes used as a source of fat in total parenteral nutrition (TPN). In TPN, all food is delivered intravenously.  This type of feeding is necessary in people whose gastrointestinal tract is no longer working.  Intravenous MCTs are also given to prevent muscle breakdown in critically ill patients.

MCTs are a fat source for patients who may not be able to tolerate other types of fats.  Researchers also think that these fats produce chemicals in the body that might help fight Alzheimer's disease.

Research has suggested that for improving seizure control in children MCT oil is used as 60% of the calories eaten.

The supplement industry has also promoted the use of MCTs for athletes for enhanced energy production and nutritional support during training as well as to decrease body fat and increase lean muscle.  Since MCTs are considered a good biological inert source of energy and are easy to metabolize, MCTs may be a good source of fuel for athletes and those seeking weight loss along with a balanced diet and exercise routine.  On the other hand, most animal saturated fats are long chain triglycerides and are very hard for our bodies to break down and use as energy.

11)  Diseases and Conditions

Modern research has shown that it is not only the amount, but the type of fat that contributes to disease.  For example, an excess of saturated fat (with the exception of MCT oils) is shown to increase the first list of diseases and disorders.  A deficiency in Omega-3 fatty acids has also shown to increase the risk of conditions in the second list.  It is recommended that health care providers access Pub Med or Google Scholar to get up to date on current research.  A basic “Google” search may yield confusing and non-scientific or non-valid and confusing information.

A high fat (over 30%) diet can lead to:
•    Heart Disease
•    Diabetes
•    Hypertension
•    Stroke
•    Various Cancers
•    Liver Disease
•    Gall Bladder Disease
•    Infertility
•    Chronic Pain
•    Joint Dysfunction
•    Obesity
•    Gastro-Intestinal Disorders
•    Constipation

Diseases and Conditions Related to a Low Fat (less than 20%) Diet
•    Cognitive Disorders such as autism, ADHD and possibly dementia
•    Infertility
•    Slow healing
•    Constipation
•    Thyroid Dysfunction
•    Low Testosterone and other growth hormones
•    Dry Skin
•    Amenorrhea
•    Failure to Thrive
•    Chronic Fatigue


12)  Different Types of Oils

Unrefined Oils
Unrefined oils are left in their pure state after pressing. They are sometimes filtered once to remove residue.  These oils tend to be rich tasting and “true” to their flavor.  They retain their vitamin E content that can help reduce rancidity and also reduce free radical damage in the body.  Unrefined oils retain their nutrients and provide the medicinal properties that oils are suppose to provide.  It is interesting to note, the peppery tingle from unrefined olive oil comes from antioxidant-rich polyphenols that are largely destroyed during any kind of refining. 

It is recommend that ALL OILS used be unrefined as heat and chemicals can damage the oil and make it toxic to the body.

Most unrefined oils (with the exception of saturated oils such as coconut or palm oil) have a low "smoke point" and are not optimal for high heat cooking.

An oil’s "smoke point" indicates how high a heat the oil can take before, literally, beginning to smoke. When oil smokes, it releases an acrid odor into the air and free radicals within the oil.  For the healthiest approach, discard any oil that has gone beyond its smoke point.  For a list of smoke points, please see Appendix 3 at the end of this course.  Cooking any food at extremeley high temperatures regardless of what oil you use coverts what once may have been healthy to harmful.  My oven usually stays around 350 degress F.  If I do use a BBQ, I prefer the "slow cook" method keeping the heat as low as it can go on the grill. 

Refined oils are commonly solvent-extracted using chemicals such as hexane and used for many conventional oils.  Extremely high heat that can exceed 450 degrees F (using the expeller method) can also “refine” an oil.  Refined oils are typically void of taste and color yet also void of vital nutrients.

Unsaturated fatty acids heated to an extremely high temperature can turn into trans-fatty acids that cause damage to our bodies.

Expeller Pressed Oils
Expeller pressing is a chemical-free mechanical process that extracts oil from seeds and nuts. This method of oil extraction is an alternative to the hexane-extraction method of refined oils.  The temperature reached during pressing depends on the hardness of the nut or seed.  The harder the nut or seed, the more pressure required to extract the oil, which in turn creates more friction and higher heat.  There is no external heat applied during the expeller pressing but heat is produced from the mechanical process and can still strip delicate oils of their nutrient properties.

Cold Pressed Oils
Oils that are cold pressed are expeller pressed in a heat-controlled environment to keep temperatures below 120 degrees F.

It is important to note that, while Europe has rigorous standards in place for the terminology of cold pressing (fully unrefined oil extracted at temperatures below 122 degrees F), the phrase 'cold pressed' has been used erroneously in the U.S. for a number of years, often employed as a marketing technique for oils which have been expeller pressed or even refined.1



13)  Storing Oils

Whether refined or not, all oils are sensitive to heat, light, and exposure to oxygen. Rancid oils have a very unpleasant and pungent aroma and acrid or bitter taste, and their nutrient value is greatly compromised and often the oil can be toxic.

All oils should be kept in a cool, dry place.  Some oils may thicken, but they will soon return to liquid if they stand at room temperature.  In order to reduce the negative effects of heat and light, oils should be removed from cold storage just long enough for use.

Refined oils high in monounsaturated fats keep up to a year (olive oil will keep up to a few years), while those high in polyunsaturated fats keep about six months. Extra-virgin and virgin olive oils keep at least 9 months after opening. Other monounsaturated oils keep well up to eight months, while unrefined polyunsaturated oils will keep only about half as long.1

Saturated oils, such as coconut oil and palm oil, have longer shelf lives and can be safely stored at room temperature.  Oils and plastic combine to make a toxic plasticides, so storing oils in a glass container is crucial for optimal health.



14)  General Guidelines:  Keep it Simple

With all this information, keep it simple in your professional recommendations and your own personal use. Choose unrefined oil that is stored in a glass airtight container (preferably dark or amber bottle) and keep them in a cool place out of the sunlight.  Also, learn how to cook without oil (steam, use broths, poach, etc.).  In my home, all I keep around is local, unrefined olive oil and unrefined coconut oil.  I buy oils in small amounts to assure they are not stored for too long.  For higher heat cooking (which I try not to do often), I will use a raw, organic butter (Organic Pastures is a brand that I use) or ghee or coconut oil.

Also, in my home, seeds and nuts are shelled or raw and stored in mason jars in the refrigerator and used up as quickly as possible.  The same storing method applies to nut and seed butters.

Common polyunsaturated oils such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy, or walnut are avoided in my house.


15)  Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds can be utilized in the body as an essential fat and as a protein but they are much higher in their fat content compared to their protein content.  Nuts and seeds are one of the best sources of vitamin E, which acts as a nerve protector and immune-enhancing antioxidant; common nuts and seeds also contain the greatest quality of fats of all unprocessed foods-much of in the form of an essential fatty acid. 

Health benefits of Nuts & Seeds
•    High in antioxidants (help prevent many diseases)
•    Promote a healthy Liver
•    High in Vitamin E (good for heart health, skin & vessels)
•    High in Omega 3 essential oils that can lower cholesterol
•    High in Folic Acid
•    High in niacin
•    High in minerals

On average, 85% of fat in nuts is unsaturated. 

Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, pistachios

Walnuts, safflower, sunflower

Fat Exchange:
Almonds, cashews:  6 nuts
Peanuts: 10 nuts
Pecans:  4 halves
Peanut Butter:  ½ Tbsp.
Sesame Seeds:  1 Tbsp.
Tahini:  2 tsp.
Walnuts:  4 halves
Pumpkin/Sunflower:  1 Tbsp
Peanut & Other Nut/Seed Butter:  1 Tbsp

Rancid Seeds & Nuts

•    Nuts & seeds can become rancid and lose their nutrients.
-    Rancidity causes irritation to the lining of the stomach & intestines
•    The pancreatic enzymes that digest oils in these foods are slowed.  Thus the oils cannot be digested or assimilated efficiently.
-    This can contribute to poor immunity, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
-    Destroys vitamins A, E, and perhaps iron in food, plus those stored in the body.

Selection, Storage and other Recommendations

•    Nuts in shells will last longer
•    Store hulled nuts/seeds in dark bottles or in cold places.  Heat and light will increase oxidation.  Place in glass jars and avoid storing in plastic. 
•    Try organic since pesticide sprays can easily attach to oily seeds & nuts
•    Soaking nuts/seeds overnight in water or sprouting them can make them more digestible.
•    Roasting nuts/seeds reduces the effects of rancidity and cuts down on oiliness making them easier to digest.
•    Combine nuts and seeds seeds with acid fruit (oranges) or green and non-starchy vegetables.
•    Add nuts and seeds into cereals, broths and other breads.
•    Be caution with the use of “almond flour” or other nut/seed meals and flours as just one cup of an almond flour has about 90 almonds in it and can make a recipe extremely difficult to digest.  It is very high in polyunsaturated fats causing health problems in the body.  Most store bought almond flours are also used for high heat baking or cooking (not recommended) and stored in plastic bags.


American Dietetics Association, Dietetic Association of Canada, American College of Sports Medicine. Joint Position Statement: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 2009: p. 2130-2145.

American Heart Association. “Monounsaturated Fats.” Web. 29, October, 2013.  

Baechle, T., Earle, R. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning. 2000, Champaign, IL.: Human Kinetics.

Clark, N. The athlete's kitchen. Sports Nutrition, 2009. 1(1): p. 1

Coyle, E. Highs and lows of carbohydrate diets. Sports Science Exchange, Gatorade Sports Science Institute, 2004. 17(2): p. 1-6.

Fink, H., Burgoon, L., Mikesky, A. Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition. 2006, Sudbury, MA.: Jones & Bartlett.

Harvard School of Public Health. “Eggs and Heart Disease.” . Web. 1 November, 2013.

Houtkoopers, L., Abbot, J., Nimmo, M. Nutrition for throwers, jumpers, and combined events. Journal of Sports Science, 2007. 25(S1): p.39-47

Jeukendrup, A., Gleeson, M. Sports Nutrition. 2004, Champaign, IL.: Human Kinetics.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).  2010.

Mercola. “Another Reason to Ignore the Warning Signs about this Superfood.” . Web. 29, October, 2013.

Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. 2002, Berkley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Spectrum. “Refined or Unrefined.” .
Web. 3, November, 2013.

The Egg: As Good As Gold: All About Eggs. “Lecithin: a very special substance.” Web. 17, October, 2013.

University of Maryland. “Omega 3 Fatty Acids.” . Web. 10 November, 2013.

Web MD. Medium Chain Triglycerides.” . Web. 5, October, 2013.

Wikipedia. “Medium Chain Triglycerides.” . Web. 3, November, 2013.

Appendix 1:   Fat Content of Various Foods

Food Item                                                                    Serving Size                           Total Fat           Saturated    Monounsaturated     Polyunsaturated


Oatmeal, dry                                                             ½ c                                               2.5                           0.5                       1.0                              1.0

English muffin                                                          1 muffin                                       1                              0.1                       0.2                               .05

Pasta, cooked                                                          1 cup                                             0.9                          0.1                       0.1                                0.4

Brown Rice                                                               1 cup                                            1.8                          0.4                       0.6                                0.6

Whole wheat bread                                               1 slice                                           1.2                           0.3                       0.5                                0.3

Whole wheat pita                                                  1 pita (6 ½”)                                 1.7                           0.3                       0.2                                0.7

Blueberry muffin                                                   1 muffin                                         6.2                          1.2                       1.5                                3.1

Biscuit                                                                      1.2 oz                                             4.6                          0.9                        2.8                               0.2


Pear                                                                           1 medium                                       1                              <0.1                     0.1                       0.2

Orange                                                                      1 medium                                        0                                0                         0                          0

Watermelon                                                             1 cup                                               0.7                            0.1                       0.2                        0.2

Banana                                                                      1 medium                                       0.5                            0.2                      <0.1                      0.1

Spinach raw                                                              ½ cup                                               0                               0                           0                             0

Broccoli, cooked                                                       ½ cup                                              0.1                           <0.1                    <0.1                       <0.10

Carrots, cooked                                                        ½ cup                                               0.1                           <0.1                   <0.1                        0

Avocado                                                                    1 medium                                        27                              5.3                     14.8                       4.5


Skim milk                                                                   8 oz                                                 0.5                               0.4                        0.2                       <0.1

1% milk                                                                      8 oz                                                 2.6                                1.6                       0.7                         0.1

2% milk                                                                      8 oz                                                 4.7                                2.9                       1.4                         0.2

Whole milk                                                               8 oz                                                  8                                   5.1                       2.4                          0.3

Cottage Cheese, 2%                                                ¼ cup                                               4.4                                 2.8                       1.2                         0.1

Swiss Cheese                                                            1 oz                                                  8                                    5.0                       2.1                          0.3

Soy Milk                                                                     8 oz                                                 5                                     0.5                      1.0                          3.0

Ground beef, lean                                                    3 oz                                                13.2                                5.2                        5.8                         0.4

Chicken with skin                                                     3 oz                                                 9                                   2.4                        3.4                        1.9

Chicken without skin                                               3 oz                                                 3.1                                0.9                        1.1                        0.7

Turkey, white meat                                                  3 oz                                                 3                                    1.0                        0.6                        0.9
(without skin)
Turkey, dark meat                                                    3 oz                                                 6                                     2.2                        1.5                        2.0
(without skin)

Pork chop                                                                  3 oz                                                 6.9                                 2.5                          3.1                        0.5

Salmon, pink                                                             3 oz                                                  4                                    1.0                         0.8                       0.6

Orange roughy                                                         3 oz                                                    1                                   0.1                         0.5                      <0.1

Veggie burger                                                            1 patty                                           0.5                                  0.1                           0.3                     0.2

Almonds                                                                      1oz                                                  15                                  1.1                            9.5                     3.6

Butter                                                                           1T                                                   12                                  7.2                             3.3                           0.4

Olive oil                                                                        1T                                                   14                                  1.8                           9.9                           1.1

Salad dressing, ranch                                                 2T                                                   18                                  2.5                            NA                           NA

Salad dressing, reduced calorie ranch                    2T                                                   5                                     0.4                            NA                           NA                                                  

Source:  Recreated with permission from Fink, H., Burgoon, L., Mikesky, A. (2006).  Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition.  Jones & Bartlett Publishing

Appendix 2:  Healing Properties of Nuts

•    Alkalize the body
•    Can help treat constipation
•    Help keep blood sugar-levels stable
•    Good for lung conditions (coughing and asthma)
•    Almond milk can be used in place of other milks
•    Harmonizes the intestines
•    Can help treat constipation
•    Common nut butter added to many products
Flax Seeds:
•    Rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (good for cleaning the heart and arteries and in treating degenerative disorders)
•    Can help relieve pain and inflammation
•    Flax seed meal can be used in place of butter or oil in baking
Chia Seeds:
•    Next to flax they are the highest source of omega-3 fatty acids
•    Used as an energy tonic in many herbal formulas
•    Help lubricate dryness

Black Sesame Seeds:
•    Used in Tradition Chinese Medicine to slow “aging” and to treat blurry vision, ringing in the ears, stiff joints, and many other disorders
•    Seeds should can be ground up before cooking to make more digestible.
•    Can reduce inflammation and alleviate pain (high in Omega-3)
•    Can moisten the lungs and intestines
•    Nourish the brain and adrenal glands
Sunflower Seeds:
•    Good for the intestines, spleen and pancreas
•    Used to improve energy
Pumpkin Seeds:
•    Used for motion sickness, nausea, urinary problems (*good for male prostate, urinary and sperm problems)
•    High source of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids
•    Ayurveda Medicine considers them an important purifier for the entire body
•    Good for the kidneys and blood
Pine Nut:
•    Helpful in treating dizziness, dry cough, intestine problems

Appendix 3:  Smoke Points of Fats and Oils

The smoke point of oil or fat is the point at which it literally begins to smoke.  This point makes the oil very volatile and rancid for the body.

You will see a slight variation amongst smoke point charts.  Listed below are averages.





Coconut Oil (unrefined)




Virgin Olive Oil


Macadamia Nut Oil


Grapeseed Oil


Almond Oil


Extra-Light Olive Oil




Avocado Oil



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