No fat, low fat, trans fat, fatty acid….has all the ‘blubber’ around fat got your brain feeling ‘overweight’ with a ‘stout’ amount of information? Allow me to share with you, the ‘skinny’ on fat!
First, your body needs a healthy fat diet to function. Especially your brain because it is 60% fat! Avoiding or eliminating all fats from your diet can lead to diseases of the brain as well as inflammatory issues.
There are three macronutrients that are essential for your body to function.
They are proteins, carbohydrates and fats!
Let’s start with an interesting study I learned about from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. Did you know that Greenland Eskimos have one of the lowest incidences of inflammatory diseases (heart disease, arthritis and diabetes) in the world? Why is this? The answer is that almost 60% of their diet comes from fat! Greenland Eskimos don’t eat just any fat though; they eat quality, healthy fat that comes from wild-caught fish and plants like olives, avocados, nuts, and seeds. You see, it’s not “no fat” or “low-fat,” it’s “right fats.”
There are three types of fats: unsaturated (healthy, liquid at room temp), saturated (have some health benefit, solid at room temp) and trans-fat (foreign to the body, not healthy). Because oils fall into the fat category, I’m going to help you give yourself an oil change. According to Dr. Sears, there are “old” oils and “young” oils. Old oils increase inflammation. Young oils are a very effective weapon in fighting inflammation. Below is a chart to help you know which oils are young and which are old.
Palm kernel oil
Here are a few reasons to AVOID trans-fats and why they are so harmful to the body. Consuming too much trans-fat leads to:
Higher blood sugar
Higher LDL (bad cholesterol)
Higher “low” birth weights
Lower nutrition density levels
Lower HDL (good cholesterol)
Lower visual acuity
Lower Omega-3 levels in brain
For example, butter is a saturated fat; eat it in moderation. A stick of margarine has hydrogenated oils, so avoid it.
Why is changing your oil so important? It all boils down to the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3! Let me explain.
Under unsaturated fats, there are “monounsaturated fats” and “polyunsaturated fats.” We’re going to focus on the latter. Polyunsaturated fats are broken down into two further categories: Omega 6 and Omega 3. These types of fats are both “essential,” in that the body cannot make them and we must obtain them from food. How much Omega 6 we should eat depends in large part on how much Omega 3 we are consuming. It is the balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 that is vitally important. For optimal health, the ratio should be 2:1 (Omega 6:Omega 3). However, the Standard American Diet (SAD) tends to be much higher, which leans towards 10:1! This is why we have to be so purposeful about including foods high in Omega 3.
Great examples of Omega 3 are:
Some benefits of Omega 3:
Build healthy brain cells
Help reduce heart disease
Lower risk of certain cancers
Improve learning, attention, and vision
You’ll also want to be aware of smoke point in oils. The point where oil smokes signals that the oil has been damaged and potentially cancer-causing properties have formed. If oil smokes in the pan, discard it, clean the pan and start over at lower temperatures. It’s best to use low heat when sautéing vegetables. A better option is to steam your vegetables! Here’s an article from Dr. Sears about using and choosing oils.
Saturated fats can be good for you if used in moderation. For example, coconut oil is a saturated fat and is stable for cooking. Another good saturated healthy fat to use for cooking (and spreading on toast) is Ghee. Ghee is clarified butter, but simmered longer to bring out butter’s inherent nutty flavor. Traditionally made from buffalo or cows milk, the process of making ghee removes the water and milk fats, leaving a high-smoke point (meaning that it can be heated to a pretty high temperature before it starts to smoke) fat.
Other foods that are high in ‘right’ fats are:
Fatty fish, like; salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and anchovy
Seeds, like; pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia seeds
All in all, in the past, fats have received a ‘beefy’ rap. Your body needs healthy fat. Just remember quality over quantity and eat in moderation for a healthy body and brain! Again, think ‘right’ fats, not ‘no’ fat or ‘low’ fat!