Fat has gotten a bad rap over the years which has caused a quite a lot of fear and confusion: is fat good for us? Should we be avoiding it? Should we eat more of it? Here’s why I love fat and you should too.
I love fat – in fact – it’s my favourite macronutrient! Unfortunately, fat has gotten a bad rap over the years which has caused a bit of fear and confusion surrounding its place in our diet. At grocery stores we’re surrounded by reduced-fat this and no-fat that, and it’s all no good.
I love fat because it has countless health benefits and plays so many roles in our body. From our brain to our bones, fat is absolutely critical for good health.
WHY I LOVE FAT (AND YOU SHOULD TOO)
Every cell in our body is comprised of a portion of fat, and it makes up more than 50% of our brain! Fat plays a number of major roles in our body:
Fat helps balance blood sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity, slowing down the digestion of glucose, and helping us feel full and satisfied
Helps in the absorption and utilization of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are vital for things like healthy bones, teeth and eyesight
Nourishes and moisturizes our skin from the inside out! Fat is great for dry skin.
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly anti-inflammatory, great for inflammatory conditions such as acne and eczema, and are absolutely essential for good health and supporting our brain, heart, immune system
Saturated fat is required for the production and regulation of our sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen
Yep. The right fats, including medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in foods like coconut oil, are used readily as a source of energy for our body! Our body thrives off of fat as a fuel source.
What Makes a Fat Good or Bad?
Many of us have been made to believe that that the less fat you eat, the better. However, it’s not about avoiding fat, it’s about avoiding the wrong kinds of fat.
Here’s what matters most: eating the right fats in the right amounts, in the correct balance and ratios, and prepared correctly. The wrong fats, or even the right fats prepared incorrectly, are bad news.
There are several factors that determine whether a fat is healthy or unhealthy for us.
- What kinds of fat are we eating?
- How has it been treated?
- Is it fresh?
- Has it been exposed to heat, light, oxygen, hydrogenation, water, or metals?
- How old is it?
- How has it been prepared?
- How much was eaten?
- Are we eating a proper balance of other fats?
Sources of Healthy Fats:
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Coconut and coconut oil
- Olives and olive oil
- Nuts and seeds (soaked for optimal digestion)
- Unheated nut/seed oils (walnut, sesame, macadamia, etc.)
- Grass-fed meats
- Pasture raised eggs
- Organic, grass-fed butter
Sources of Unhealthy Fats:
- Hydrogenated oils
- Vegetable oils including soy, corn and canola
- Fats from conventionally raised, grain-fed meats
- Oils cooked at high temperatures (especially delicate polyunsaturated fats from olive and other vegetable oils)
A Note on Trans Fat
Trans fatty acids are something we should all run from. These fats are produced during the hydrogenation process and are found in items such as margarine and an array of processed foods.
When you see cookies, crackers and pastries in a package, it’s likely they contain some amount of trans fat. Even worse, fats have an affinity to plastic, so fats stored in clear, plastic containers are no good!
According to this article by Dr. Mercola:
Trans fat is known to increase blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, while lowering levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), known as “good” cholesterol. It can also cause major clogging of arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, and was found to increase the risk of heart disease. Many food companies use trans fat instead of oil because it reduces cost, extends storage life of products and can improve flavor and texture.
The Best & Worst Oils to Cook With
The very best cooking oils include those that are high in saturated fats. These are stable to high heat and are generally solid at room temperature. These include butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, and lard.
The worst oils to cook with are those that are higher in polyunsaturated fats and are liquid at room temperature. These include olive oil, and other vegetable oils including canola or flax oil. These oils are very delicate and will oxidize very quickly when exposed to high heat. This rancidity creates free radicals in our body which wreak havoc on the health of our cells.
What are your favourite fats and oils to eat? How do you like to include them in your diet?
P.S. See my video below: