Fat Is Our Friend
This might be news to some of you, but fat is not the enemy. The low-fat diet is not only an outdated fad, but detrimental to our health. If you see anything with the words low-fat, reduced-fat or fat-free, you’re better off staying far away. Healthy fats from healthy sources (NOT factories) are essential for a plethora of body processes. They satiate you so you’re not reaching for a quick energy boost, they help the body absorb Vitamins A, D and K, they allow for the proper use of protein, they’re the building blocks for cells and hormones… the list goes on! Plus, fat makes food taste better. How can you be mad about that? Take a look at these graphs below that show how traditional fats and oils (which happen to be mostly saturated animal fats) are not the cause of weight gain, obesity or disease.
Taking fat out of food means it tastes terrible so food manufacturers have to add sugar, flavorings and other chemicals to make your taste buds want it and want a lot of it. To add, while saturated fats (like coconut oil) have been the brunt of many articles and studies, the opposite is actually true. Saturated fats are needed for proper growth, fertility, healthy babies, cell function, hormone production and optimal function of the heart, lungs and kidneys. They also provide important vitamins A, D and K2. Just look at that graph above!
Wanna know how industrial fats and oils are made? You know, the stuff that the FDA, AHA, ADA (and others) claims to be a healthy alternative to traditional fats that have been used for thousands of years.
“Manufacturers start with the cheapest seeds (usually soy or canola), extracting the oil at extremely high temperatures and pressures. The last of the oil is removed with hexane, a toxic solvent. At this point, the oils are a brown, smelly, rancid mess. They are subjected to steam for cleaning which then destroys any of the vitamins and natural antioxidants that might have existed, while pesticides and solvents still remain. Additional refining involves more heating, chemicals and deodorization. To make hardened fats, manufacturers use a process called partial hydrogenation. The oils are mixed with a finely ground nickel catalyst and then put in a reactor where they are flooded with hydrogen gas. Their molecular structure is rearranged — what goes in is a liquid oil, what comes out is a smelly, lumpy, grey semisolid. (You know all those packaged foods in the middle aisles of the grocery store? This is how they stay shelf-stable and last forever.) Soap-like emulsifiers are mixed in to remove the lumps, the oil is steam cleaned (again) to remove the odor, the oil is bleached (yes, you read that right) to get rid of the grey color, synthetic vitamins and artificial flavors are mixed in and the mixture is packaged in blocks of tubs and promoted to the public as food.”
— via the Weston A. Price Foundation
Here’s a helpful breakdown of what fats and oils you want to avoid and which ones you want to enjoy:
• Grass-fed butter and ghee
• Lard from pasture-raised pigs
• Tallow from grass-fed cows
• Duck fat and goose fat
• Coconut oil
• Olive oil
• Sesame oil (cold pressed) in small amounts
• Cod liver oil in small amounts
Fake butter substitutes
Hydrogenated & Partially-Hydrogenated Fats (Trans Fats)*
*Partially-Hydrogenated fats on a food label indicates the presence of trans fats. Trans fats are formed during the process of partial hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oil into a solid fat. Trans fats contribute to heart disease, bone problems, hormonal imbalance, skin diseases, infertility, low birth weight and learning disabilities in children.
You will most likely find these harmful fats and oils in the following items:
Spreads, condiments, salad dressings
Artificial whipped cream
Snack foods (chips, pretzels, cookies)
Commercial nut butters and spreads
Restaurants (You better believe they’re not using traditional, healthful fats. They’re using cheap, processed, factory-made vegetable oils. There could be restaurants serving beautiful grass-fed steaks or organic, pasture-raised chicken but they use canola oil or another cheap alternative to cook it in. I’m not saying never eat out, but I am saying you deserve to be aware. Be bold and ask them what they cook their food in and if it’s possible to cook it in butter instead, which they most likely have!
Now that we know what types of fats to avoid and what fats to consume, let’s go a little deeper. Heat is not a friend to certain fats and to others, it’s no big deal! Some fats and oils are stable in higher heat and others actually go rancid if too much heat (or any) is applied. This creates free radicals (unstable molecules) that cause damage to our cells. Below are the best fats and oils for the specific type of cooking you’re doing:
Very Low Heat