A varied and moderate consumption of fats is the basis for a healthy diet.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is characterised by an abundant consumption of cereals and cereal-based products, pulses, vegetables, olive oil and nuts. It is not a strict or fixed diet, it is simply a set of healthy eating habits which follow the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Pyramid developed by WHO nutritionists
Deep frying is one of the oldest and most popular cooking techniques in Mediterranean culture. It is the most widespread culinary technique.
Deep frying consists of cooking food by entirely submerging it in hot oil. The mechanism is quite simple: the oil serves as the means by which heat is transferred to the food. The heat melts the fat and turns the food’s water content into steam which travels from the inside towards the outside and lastly into the oil.
The frying process preserves the nutritional value of food much better than other cooking techniques. For instance, when food is boiled it loses twice as much as vitamin C as it does when fried.
The cooking time for fried foods is very short and, what is more, only the outer surface comes into contact with the oil which means that fat absorption is minimal.
In addition to this, during the frying process a crispy golden coating is formed which enhances the food’s flavour, aroma and texture. It is not true that frying adds cholesterol to foods, this would only be true if we used inappropriate oils.
The ideal oils for deep frying are those which contain high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, such as olive oil and certain sunflower oils.
Olive oil is natural olive juice which maintains all the flavour, aroma and vitamins of the olives themselves. Due to their composition, this oil offers countless health benefits.
Monounsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid, play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and also serve to delay ageing.
Fats are essential to our diet as they constitute our main energy supply, transport nutrients, are hormone precursors and play a role in skin regeneration.
In order to stay healthy, it is necessary to pay attention to both the total amount and the type of fats that we consume.
Types of fats:
Saturated Fatty Acids
These are mainly found in animal products such as meat, lard, butter, milk, eggs and cream. The oils obtained from tropical plants such as palm and coconut are also rich in saturated fats.
A high intake of saturated fats is directly associated with an increase in cholesterol levels and high levels of blood cholesterol are the main cause of cardiovascular disease.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Avocados, walnuts, hazelnuts and olive oil are examples of foods which contain a high amount of monounsaturated fatty acids.
A high intake of these fats reduces the level of “bad” cholesterol and thereby minimises the risk of heart disease.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential fatty acids which are not produced by our body but are necessary for metabolic functioning and should therefore be included in our diet.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids which are mainly found in salmon, sardines, trout, herring, walnuts and sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils, amongst others.
Polyunsaturated fats offer protection against allergies and inflammations.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered “healthy fats”.