Recently I did a little study on fats. I thought I'd share with you all.
Fats are commonly believed to be unhealthy. Not only do you hear it from medical and health professionals but it is largely advertised on many products such as low-fat yogurt, diet foods and even beverages. Heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity are all fears of which fat is often blamed as a major culprit.
Other than avoidance, fat is is often an ignored subject and also a commonly misunderstood one. Because fat does make up 30%-40% of an average American diet it is reasonable to give it some thought.
Doesn't Fats Make You Fat?
Our culture tells us that fats make us fat. Which actually sounds logical.
Many people believe that it is fats that are the culprit for making them fat. Today, many health experts say that reducing fats in the diet is essential for losing weight. It is true that fats have more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates.
But it is carbohydrates such as sugar and starches that create the most weight gain. Though Fats have more calories than starches, fats satisfy hunger four to five times as much as carbohydrates. Fats are essential to our health. Fats are our storage of energy. They help protein do it's job and also start chemical reactions that contribute to our immunity, reproduction and our metabolism. Interestingly, fats help the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K. Our brains cannot work without fat. Obesity could be curbed easily by cutting back on grains, pastries, starches and sugar which, if not burned right away, store up as weight. Good Fats are not the culprit.
Good Fat vs. Bad Fat
Although fats are essential, one may ask, which ones? Are there fats we should avoid? Fats that give us energy, carry fat soluble vitamins, help absorb minerals and benefit our immunity are traditional fats.
These are coconut oil, butter or ghee from grass-fed cows, extra virgin olive oil, palm oil and rendered animal fats such as tallow and lard. And small amounts of cold-pressed oils such as sesame or flax. Studies have shown where these traditional oils have been used heart disease and cholesterol rates are significantly lower than industrial/vegetable fat diets.
Fats to avoid are Margarine, non-butter spreads or sprays, processed vegetable oils (canola, soy, sunflower, safflower, corn and well as non-virgin oil).
These non-traditional polyunsaturated fats are found in highly processed goods and should be avoided.
In the last century the intake of these fats have skyrocketed, along with heart disease and obesity. Though this is only a correlation it cannot be ignored.
Our body's fat make-up has very little of these polyunsaturated fats, we do not need them like other traditional fats.
Also, most commercially available non-traditional polyunsaturated fats are rancid! This is why cold-pressed oils are recommended. The high temperature process these non-cold-pressed oils go through cause them to become easily rancid and industries “de-orderize” them making them presentable to the public.
Another thing to consider is that these non-traditional polyunsaturated oils have an unbalanced omega 6 ratio. Though omega 6 is essential to our bodies, our western diet is overloaded with omega 6. Our dependence on corn alone shows how disproportionate our western diet is. These oils along with dairy and meat products from industrialized animals are imbalanced with an excessive proportion with omega 6 fatty acids. This leads to the very heart problems and obesity we try to avoid. There are definitely good fats and bad fats.
Which Fats for Which?
All of this information is null and void if we are unsure how to apply this practically. When using the traditional oils we should –
For pan frying/grilling and roasting use butter, coconut oil or the animal fats.
For high temperature sauteing or frying we should use animal fats since the fat make up is not changed by the temperature.
For baking, coconut oil and butter are ideal. Palm oil and lard can be used as well. Any recipe calling for Crisco lard can be replaced.
For dressings and marinades the cold-pressed olive oil can be used as well as other cold pressed vegetable oils in moderation.
Fat does not make us fat, it is our excessive consumption of carbohydrates that is the real culprit. Fats are essential to our health, we just need to know which kinds of fats to use.
Know Your Fats by Mary G. Enig, PHD
Food Renegade's Good Fat, Bad Fat Video Tutorial
Your Body Is Your Best Doctor by H. Leon Abrams