Your body is designed to run on high-quality fats! Changing the fats and oils in your diet is one of the most beneficial changes you can make on your way to manifesting great health! It is also one of the easiest changes to make, once you figure out what fats to eliminate and what fats to introduce into your everyday cooking. Not all fats are created equal, so my advice to you is to learn and understand what fat is all about! For years, health experts preached that a low-fat diet was the gateway to health. They proclaimed fats as the enemy, linking them to cardiovascular and other diseases. The food industry jumped on this “theory” and bombarded us with fat-free and low-fat “food” options. A walk down the supermarket aisle will confirm our obsession with fat-free foods. To ensure that flavor was not compromised, sugars were added in increasing amounts. So, while our low-fat options exploded, so did obesity rates, as well as other related illnesses like diabetes. Clearly, low-fat eating did not deliver the promised results. We now know that healthy fats DO NOT make you fat. Ironically, it’s not eating fat that makes you gain weight, it is sugar and the WRONG types of fat.
THE WRONG types of fats are trans-fat, also known as hydrogenated or fractionated oils.
Polyunsaturated fats under names like corn, cottonseed, canola, vegetable, soybean and peanut often carry the title “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.”
Recently, the FDA has officially declared trans fats to be unsafe and has banned their use over the next 3 years. My advice is to completely avoid these types of fats, especially if they have been heated!
Trans-fats are made during food processing through the partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats. While this process creates fats that are easier to cook with and have a longer shelf life than naturally occurring oils, the synthetic trans-fat increases unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lowers healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Hydrogenated oils hide in:
- Baked goods
- Ready-to-use frostings
- Snack food
- Fried food typically found in fast food restaurants
- Refrigerated dough products
- Vegetable shortening
- Coffee creamer
The healthy fats are Omega-3 and 6 and 9!
EFA’s (Essential fatty Acids) are “essential”, they cannot be manufactured by your body, so they must be obtained from food on a daily basis. Omega-3 fats slow down inflammation, help with weight loss, lubricate your joints, protect your nervous system, protect cell membranes, increase heart health, decrease bad cholesterol, increase brain function, decrease risk of diabetes and slow down the aging process.
Docosahexaenoic Acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid (DHA for short) and makes up over 60% of your brain’s dry weight. A deficiency in Omega-3 in the diet may lead to memory difficulty, anxiety, depression, learning difficulties and much more. Your brain needs DHA to spark communication between cells.
Healthy omega-3 fats are found in:
- Wild fish and game
- Grass-fed and finished animals and animal products
- Pastured eggs
Remember that animal-based omega-3s are more complete and easier to convert then plant-based omega-3s. (Chia, flaxseeds, walnuts)
It’s always best to get your omega-3s from food, but supplement if you need to…most people benefit from this!
Healthy Omega-6 fats are found in:
- Evening primrose
- Borage oil
- Black currant oil
Most Americans have a very high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, such as 30:1, which is pro-inflammatory. The recommended ratio is closer to 3:1, the problem here is the infiltration of “bad” vegetable oils into the market, used by many while cooking.
For more information on what oils to use while cooking see below!
Healthy Saturated Fats
Saturated fats come mainly from animal sources. Not all saturated fats are created equal, they have been demonized in the past and still are. I recommend a daily intake of saturated fats from small amounts of meat, ghee, butter, coconut oil, coconut products and avocado. When of the highest quality, these foods can deliver fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, to your cells and are also are a great source of energizing fuel. Saturated fats are necessary for calcium uptake, immune function and cell membrane structure.
Healthy Saturated Fats are found in:
- Grass-fed meat
- Coconut oil
- Lamb free range lamb,
- Pastured chicken
- Raw dairy
- Grass-fed butter
While cooking there are only a couple of oils that are suitable for healthful higher temperatures. Saturated fats are much more stable oils to cook with. Ghee has one of the highest flash points (485ºF) which make this a great choice for high temperature cooking.
Over 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, which makes it very resistant to heat. Coconut oil is semi-solid at room temperature and it can last for months and years without going rancid. Knowing the smoke point of each type of cooking oil is important because heating oil to the point where it begins to smoke produces harmful free radicals. Heat destroys oils polyphenols and there are some oils that are so delicate they should never be heated. To make sure that your fats and oils don’t go rancid, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Don’t buy large batches at a time. Keep them in a cool, dry, dark place and make sure to screw the lid on as soon as you’re done using them.
Here are my favorite oils for cooking:
Best fats and oils for HIGH heat cooking:
- Coconut Oil
- Grass-fed Butter
Best oils for LOW heat cooking:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Unrefined sesame oil
Best oils for NO heat cooking:
- Almond Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Hazelnut Oil
- Pumpkin Seed oil
- Walnut Oil
- Apricot kernel Oil
- Flax Seed Oil
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Sunflower Seed oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil