Generally the Lymphatic System's job is to take care of the fluid balance in the body, provide immune functions, eliminating waste products in tissues, and lastly but not least is the role it plays in digestion. The digestive part of the Lymphatic System is located around our small intestines. The small intestines are comprised of specialized epithelial cells which are designed to absorb nutrients. There is a network of vessels surrounding our intestines that absorb fats which are too large of molecules to be absorbed in the the small capillaries of the intestinal villi.
Our Lymphatic System in our gut is made of 'lacteals' which absorb the fats and fatty acids from our small intestine and transport these molecules through our thoracic duct to get dropped off back in our venous blood circulation where we can use the fats as fuel. Therefore the quality of fats we are intaking has enormous important for our overall circulatory and lymphatic health. Let's learn about fat! Our body needs lipids to survive, but what are the best sources? There is a lot of misleading information out there, but what I have discovered through my own research, is not to be scared of fats or even saturated fats, you just need to know which ones are healthy. Really what it comes down to is how processed the fat is? Is this fat found in its natural form or close?
Processed foods are crap! We are now discovering how true this is, although many say eat processed foods in moderation, if you already have inflammatory issues it is best to try to cut them out completely. We know when we eat highly processed foods this can create an inflammatory response in the body and disrupts normal function of the Lymphatic System.
Whats so bad about these processed fats? And what are they?
Processed fats that are made to be "shelf stable" so they can last forever in your pantry. Wow so convienent right! Well that's what they want you to think. Also many of these oils somehow have misleading labels such as "heart healthy" which is so false.
Examples of highly processed fats are refined plant seed oils, canola oil, vegetable oils, and soybean oil. Non organic, non-GMO soybean, corn oil and canola are they worse because they also have extra chemicals added from the highly industrialized mass farming practices using serious pesticides and other contaminants, which are not good to have in your body! The oil processing system uses heavy equipment and high heat that changes the actual fat molecules from these seed oils into stable "trans fats" that last forever on the shelf.
We do know trans fats are damaging to our vascular system and can cause systemic inflammation over time. Eat real food! Plant oils actually do have good polyphenols and healthy components to them, the issue is what happens to them after processing.
"Although refining extends oil shelf life, it has several disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages is the loss of substances responsible for healthy, pharmaceutical properties and technological interest in the oils, such as tocopherols, phospholipids, squalene, polyphenols, and phytosterols [5, 18]. Another notable disadvantage of refining is the formation of undesirable compounds such as glycidyl ester, 3-MCPD-esters , harmful trans-fatty acids [5, 20], and polymeric triacylglycerols . These can directly influence the safety level of refined oils."
Gharby S. Refining Vegetable Oils: Chemical and Physical Refining. ScientificWorldJournal. 2022 Jan 11;2022:6627013. doi: 10.1155/2022/6627013. PMID: 35069038; PMCID: PMC8767382.
So what are the best fats to eat??
The key is to look for the least processed items and eat real food! The best food sources of healthy fats include:
Meats and Eggs- ONLY grass fed or pasture raised organic
Fish - small fish and salmon to keep low in mercury provide beneficial omega 3's
Nuts - raw, unprocessed
Seeds - raw , do have a lot of omega 6 so shouldn't be only source
Added fats/oils for cooking:
butter- grass fed
Tallow or ghee - you guessed it, grass fed!
extra virgin olive oil
extra virgin coconut oil- saturated but with MCTs shorter chain fatty acids that are natural not processed to add
Cold pressed oils (unrefined) - flax seed, walnut, macadamia, avocado, etc, unrefined oils but very sensitive to heat and oxygen so will oxidize and go bad easily
Caution: when fats/oils go rancid it is now toxic, so saturated fats are actually most stable and unlikely to spoil even without refrigeration. Look out for spoilage in unstable oils such as extra virgin olive oil, keep away from sun and look at best by date. Also do a smell test to see if it smells rancid.
I hope this helps you decide what oils to buy for cooking and what to check for in labels. Even healthy looking food may use a few unsavory oils unfortunately. It's crazy how many brands I figured were on the health train but use terrible oils.