Fats and oils generally get a bad rap in our regular day to day conversation: “how could you eat that? “it is so greasy!” “wow, that looks fattening.”
I have a certain relative who always makes judgments about how much coconut oil (in lieu of butter) I put on my whole grain vegan waffles or pancakes. However, as a woman in my childbearing years (for the past three years I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding or both, and currently still am in that zone, therefore a low-fat diet while I am growing other human beings is completely inappropriate for me, at this time of life).
So let us take a look at fat and oils from two perspectives – those that we consume internally and those that we apply externally.
Good Fats and Oils
For the most part these come from plant sources. Avocados, olives, coconuts, nuts and seeds are great sources of plant oils. Fish supply us with omega oils and DHA that are good for our brain. (For you diasporans, as a vegan, I get my DHA from an algae derived supplement. I eat what the fish eat to make their DHA.)
An appropriate level of fat intake is crucial for various functions in the body that include:
– proper functioning of nerve and brain tissue.
– creating steroid hormones that regulate numerous body functions.
– providing and storing energy.
– receiving essential fatty acids that the body cannot make itself, that are vital for growth and various necessary cell functions.
– maintaining healthy skin and other tissues and
– transporting fat soluble vitamins.
The trick is to get the right balance for your level of activity and stage of development in life. I strongly advocate minimizing your intake of animal based fat because it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer.
Also, avoid deep frying your foods, as this changes the chemical structure of the plant oils to trans fats that are extremely harmful (even more so than saturated animal fats) to your health.
Oil on the Skin
Please stop using Vaseline on your skin. Other forms of Vaseline in disguise include “baby oil”, and probably every lotion you buy locally.
Stick to using pure oils on your body – basically, whatever you are cooking with from your kitchen. Why, you ask?
Well Vaseline and other mineral oil based products are derived from petrolatum (think petrol or gasoline, depending on where you are living, that goes in your car.) This does not belong on your body or your child’s body no matter how refined or perfumed it has been made, in order to make it palatable for potential human consumers.
It acts like a plastic wrap on your skin and impedes the body’s ability to have proper moisture and hydration balance, causes acne and premature skin aging.
Cold pressed oils and refined vegetable oils moisturize the skin while still allowing it to breathe. A pure oil has no dangerous emulsifiers, artificial colours and fragrances, or preservatives in it that may be a danger to your body when absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. Remember your skin is your largest living organ. These oils can be applied to your scalp as well.
I am sending you to your kitchen for body oil, because for whatever reason, some of the most exquisite oils on the world market seem to be hard to buy locally, even though they are grown and pressed in our very own Zimbabwe. If you can, get your hands on any of the following oils for even more benefits for your skin and hair: marula, avocado, baobab and tsamma melon seed.
For a beautiful scent use natural essential oils which you can blend yourself. You only need a drop or two to scent 50 ml of oil.
If anyone reading this has links to where people can buy any of the above botanicals, please be a gem and post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page so we can all benefit! Thank you!