Does Fat make you Fat?
Not necessarily, but since there’s more than one type of fat, without the right balance you may actually become inflamed, or at risk for certain diseases.
We won’t pretend it's as simple as saying “matcha green tea benefits your healthy fats.” You can learn about matcha tea and lipids at the end, but first we must ask: what exactly are all the types of fats?
Since it shouldn’t take a chemist to understand the basic differences between them, here’s a simple breakdown. We review:
- Monounsaturated fats
- Polyunsaturated fats
Drawbacks and Benefits of Saturated Fats Foods, Unsaturated Fats, PUFAs and MUFAs
Each fat has a different chemical structure, can come from different sources, and typically is part of a mix of other fat types. The way that fats (foods) are processed can also influence these fat types and their overall content for a given food.
For example, industrial extraction of canola oil from rapeseed typically includes solvents which may leave residues. This processing often uses high heats also, and together these conditions can change fats on a chemical level, including how they work inside the body.
- This is especially true for canola oil, which should be sought out instead as expeller-pressed, from a trustworthy source. If so, it can be a healthy choice.
Examples of these changes from processing include certain fat types being converted to others, and polymerization (more on that below). Generally speaking, these changes are bad for health.
Natural Trans fats and History of trans-fatty acids
Processing is chiefly responsible for most of the trans-fats in the food available to us. Many processed foods have unsaturated fats which have undergone ‘hydrogenation’ to improve palatability and consistency.
These are known as artificial trans fats.
How to Avoid Trans-fats, Foods high in Trans-fats
You may be wondering how to avoid trans fats entirely, but they are present in small amounts in virtually every fat source, including vegetable and seed oils.
So, while it’s recommended to avoid artificial trans-fats entirely, by selecting a wholefood and unprocessed diet, you may also cut down the frequency of foods which do contain naturally higher levels of them (e.g. beef or lamb).
With trans fats, it’s a clear decision to avoid artificial sources, but we shouldn’t obsess too much about the otherwise low, natural levels in most foods.
At least one reason for that is because all fats in their natural (or minimally processed) state come as a range of different types, different proportions.
How is Saturated Fat different from Unsaturated Fat?
Saturated fats are a point of health controversy, like whether natural sources (e.g. butter or beef) pose any inherent risks to health.
It’s generally regarded that moderate consumption of saturated fats is ok, as long as you’re ‘budgeting’ with high quality sources. That also means getting enough of the unsaturated fat types (MUFAs, PUFAs) to bring dietary balance.
What is the Ideal Dietary Fat Ratio and what Fats are in Olive Oil, the Mediterranean Diet?
A great goal is to select sources of dietary fat which offer a healthy entourage of fat types (learn about this natural principle), and the recommended ratios of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) like omega-3 and omega-6.
Though there is no gold standard, it’s said that about 25-30% of calories should come from saturated and unsaturated fats.
- Olive oil is one of the most popular fat sources to lead by, with about 14% saturated fats, 74% monounsaturated fats, and about 12% polyunsaturated fats.
Fat in Mediterranean Diet and Longevity, Mediterranean Oils
Considering the success of the mediterranean diet in longevity and heart health, and how pivotal olive oil is, it makes for a good example that saturated fat doesn’t always have to be the villain – rather that it may simply be part of the equation.
In fact, dietary fat sources like olive oil are intriguing for their polyphenol and antioxidant content, which may help the good fats do their job more effectively, while controlling against possible damage of the less friendly ones (i.e. saturated fats).
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and Polyunsaturated Fats, Omega fatty acids
Nevertheless, it’s confusing to learn that even within the broad ‘fat-types,’ there are still specific fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. These fatty-acids are short chain polyunsaturated fats, and remind us that it’s more than the bigger categories that matter – but what they are made of too.
It’s the exact molecules which make these fats which plays an influence on our health, and is why your choice of cooking oil – and overall diet – could play a bigger role than first thought.
Fat-soluble Vitamins, Fat-soluble Minerals, Ketogenic Energy
With the right balance, fat-soluble vitamins like K, A, D, and E are able to work as needed. Healthy fats are also a preferred energy source and supply the polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids required in our survival.
Yet, one of the biggest problems with cooking oils available today is having too much non-essential polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), significantly lower in monounsaturated fats, and often seen used in high heat cooking applications.
(PUFAs) Polyunsaturated-fats Smoke Point, Polymerization Temperature of Vegetable Oil
PUFAs are chemically degraded in high heat (smoke point) and in the presence of oxygen, much faster than monounsaturated fats. They are the least stable unsaturated fat, and in these wrong conditions can polymerize.
No longer useful to health, those fatty acids form into polymers which may act as inflammatory agents in the body. This is one reason suspected at play with fried foods and cognitive decline, diabetes, heart disease, and other issues.
When choosing a cooking oil, it’s important to know the temperature range, and to pick one resistant to high heat.
- It’s recommended to only saute and not deep fry with any cooking oils, which will cause chemical changes to the fats.
- Expeller or cold-pressed olive or avocado are great options (both fruit oils).
Well-sourced animal fats may also be suitable for some diets. Unlike seed/nut oils which require modern extraction, evolutionarily it is these animal and fruit fats which would have been more available.
Matcha Lipids: Green Tea on Fat Levels, Matcha Tea Benefits LDL and Lipid levels?
One of the Matcha green tea benefits we recommend to learn about is its potential for healthy lipids and cholesterol. As part of many weight loss studies, matcha tea benefitted test groups in weight loss and healthy cholesterol management, including VLDL.
We also review in depth the antioxidants of matcha tea, in our Ultimate Matcha Health Benefit Guide, which provides insight how the polyphenols may help digestion and stabilize metabolism, amongst many others health properties.
The Bottom Line – Matcha and Olive Oil Anti Inflammatory?
Also considering the reported anti-inflammatory effects of matcha, by joining forces with a careful approach to dietary fats, finding health and wellness could be only a couple changes away.
You can always bulletproof your matcha (add your choice of oil) to take it to the next level, by optimizing how diet, including fats, are used by the body.
-Team Matcha Kari