Fats. The Good, The Bad, & The Downright Ugly
Few foods have caused more controversy and anxiety as fats!
So which ones should you pick and how should you pick them? And once you have them, which ones do you use for what?! Here’s the lowdown.
Do we need fat?
The answer is a loud YES!
Fats are essential for health. Fatty acids are in every cell of the body. They help make nice flexible cell walls, they are involved in hormone production, brain development, memory and concentration. They keep skin smooth, supple and moisturized. We need them for good vision and to transport essential fat soluble vitamins into our cells. Certain fatty acids help to increase cellular metabolism (like flaxseed oil), aiding in weight loss and others are involved in building a healthy immune system, some (like coconut oil) are even antiviral and antibacterial. Fats also slow down the rate at which food leaves your stomach – so eating fat keeps you fuller for longer, so you can eat less because you won’t get so hungry! There are many types of fats with many many functions (much more than what’s listed here!). Unadulterated saturated fats are equally important to have in the diet, so don’t shy away from them. Eat real foods with real nutrients, feel satisfied after a meal and watch your weight improve.
- All oils must be extra virgin, cold pressed.
- All oils need to be kept in airtight (preferably glass) containers / jars / bottles to prevent them from oxidizing / going rancid.
- Some oils MUST be refrigerated: Flax, walnut, pumpkin seed (in airtight bottle). These oils are polyunsaturated so they are very unstable and become rancid with exposure to heat and light.
- This means that while they have great health benefits when they are fresh, they will cause a lot of free radical damage if they are not stored correctly.
- Cook only with saturated fats as they are stable at high temperatures and so will not go rancid and toxic.
GOOD cold pressed OILS to use RAW (ie for dressings, smoothies, etc)
- Macadamia nut
- Flax seed (store in fridge)
- Walnut (store in ridge)
- Pumpkin (store in fridge)
GOOD FATS to use for COOKING
- Ghee (preferably organic)
- Coconut oil
- Sesame oil mixed with coconut oil
- Animal fats from pasture raised (grass fed) organic animals – drippings from roast, the fat that sets on top of bone broths etc. Tallow, lard.
Avoid anything that is just called “vegetable oil” or “cooking oil”.
Avoid margarine. If you look into how margarine is made, it will be enough to put you off for life! It’s certainly not food!
Avoid all vegetable oil spreads – like olive oil spreads or canola oil spread etc. These oils have been hydrogenated, a process that creates trans-fats – a form of the fat that is so similar in shape that the body assimilates it into cell membranes. However once it is there, the cell is unable to use the altered form of the fat and so havoc ensues. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are just two diseases that can be caused by trans fats. When margarines and vegetable oil spreads hit the market, the rates of these diseases skyrocketed.
Foods fried in unsaturated oils
Processed foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
Foods containing soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil (unstable oils, most likely heat treated and partially hydrogenated and also more likely than not to be genetically modified).
So go to your pantry and fridge and throw out any margarine or processed (heated) vegetable oils. If you don’t like throwing out food – remember they are really no longer food – just edible food-like products that are damaging your health!
“Eat Fat to Lose Fat” by Dr Mary Enig
“Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon
“Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes