We are a fat phobic nation. I almost feel like it’s controversial to talk about fat because so many people are afraid of it. We’re afraid of being fat and we’re afraid of eating fat. So many people steam their veggies just because they don’t want to use fat to cook them in, or they sautee them with water instead of fat. I’m definetley guilty of having done this in the past as well. Or maybe you use vegetable oil because it’s made out of vegetables so it’s got to be healthier right? Actually no, it’s not.
Fat really isn’t bad for you. There’s a lot of chemistry behind the good, the bad and the ugly of fat. My high school chemistry teacher can tell you that I shouldn’t try to explain chemistry to you. So I’ll keep it simple and just give you some truths about fats and leave the chemistry out of it. Let’s start with the fact that without fat the body can not absorb fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). You need fat on your salad to absorb the lycopene and beta-carotene so skip the fat free dressing. Then there’s also the fact that the body needs fat to absorb minerals, build cell walls and immunity.
This is by no means an in-depth look at fats but a quick overview of the benefits of including them in your diet. Keep in mind that with animal fat their quality depends on their diet; if they are fed antibiotics and given growth hormones it will be in the lard and in the butter. Buy organic, grassfed and pastured whenever possible.
Lard and Marrow: lowers LDL while leaving HDL alone
Coconut Oil: fights viruses, contains lauric lauric acid and raises HDL
Butter: contains vitamins A, D and butryic acid which has been said to fight cancer
Refined corn, safflower and sunflower oil: lower HDL and have been linked to cancer
Not all fat can withstand heat. Those that can’t stand heat become oxidized (rancid) when heated and can contribute to cancer and heart disease. The most heat stable fats are: beef (marrow), butter and coconut oil. Oils good for moderate heat are canola oil, lard, macadamia nut oil and olive oil. Best to use these cold: fish oil, flaxseed oil and walnut oil.
There is so much more information on fats. Why you shouldn’t eat transfats, why you should avoid indutrial and man made fats. There are tons of books about fat, so if you really want to get into the how and why some great books are: Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon, The Schwarzbein Principle by Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus and Much Depends on Dinner by Margaret Visser among many, many, many others.
The bottom line is that fat phobia isn’t healthy. In fact, fats can be good for you. I wouldn’t reccomend a lowfat diet. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need high quality fats. So go ahead and sautee your vegetables in pastured butter and feel good about buttering your toast or spreading some coconut oil on it. Fat won’t kill you and if you have it in moderation, just like anything else, it won’t make you fat either.
Do you have any burning questions about the fats you should or shouldn’t eat? Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer!