Fat is good?

I have spoken with many of you recently about the importance of fat in your diet.  That isn’t to say just any fat, but healthy fat.  However, what is healthy fat?  Fat has been vilified in our culture and this has led to many misconceptions about what fats are healthy.

Let’s start with some science.  Fats are lipids.  These are fatty or waxy organic compounds that are readily soluble in nonpolar solvent (ie ether) but not in polar solvent (ie water). Their major biological functions involve energy storage, structural component of cell membrane, and cell signaling.

To repeat, fat is involved in energy storage, cell wall structure, and cell signaling.  These are huge responsibilities.

Fats help with energy.  Imagine eating a stick of butter.  Most people can’t.  Fat helps with satiety.  Fat is a wonderful energy source for anyone struggling with blood sugar issues.  Fat allows the body to pick off bits of energy slowly rather than flooding the bloodstream with sugar as carbohydrates do.

Fats, specifically saturated fats, help cell walls keep their structure.  To explain this further, let’s look at descriptions of types of fatty acids.

  • Saturated – chemical structure allows them to form straight chains that can stack which is why they are more solid at room temperature. They do not become rancid easily and are more stable even at high temperatures.
  • Unsaturated – bends in chemical structure mean they can’t stack which is why they are liquid at room temperatures. These go rancid quickly unless they are hydrogenated.
  • Mono – liquid at room temperature but solid when refrigerated.
  • Poly – liquid at room temperature and refrigerated.
  • Trans fats – natural forms have the cis (on the same side) formation. Trans fats are on opposite sides to remove the kink.  This makes them more solid at room temperature.

Of these types, saturated fats are the only ones with stacking, straight chains.  It is this structure that the body needs.  It can help with brain functioning (diminishing brain fog) as well as lubricating all parts of our body.

What about omegas?  They are important; however, many Americans eat too many 6 and not enough 3 which can cause depression, behavioral changes, decreased attention spans, and even violent behavior.  The ratio to aim for is 3:1 (for omega 6 : omega 3)

With this in mind, you may be wondering what fat is the best to eat.  Simple answer: organic butter.  It is balanced with the right omega 3 to omega 6 ratio as well as having a good balance of saturated to monounsaturated fat.  Organic is vital because fats store toxins.  Animals that aren’t raised well will have more toxins in their fat.  You do not want to eat that.

Along with avoiding non-organic animal fat, also avoid trans fats of any kind.  Additionally, avoid canola oil.  It has had a wonderful marketing campaign to make it seem like the healthiest oil, but it isn’t.  It may even dissolve the myelin sheath in the brain.  Avoid it!

Aim for at least 3 tablespoons of good fat a day.

comparison-of-dietary-fats3

Taken from http://www.neocate.com/blog/understanding-food-labels-ingredient-series-fats-in-neocate/

 

Eat

Avoid
In general, eat animal fats and unprocessed fats.  Aim for higher saturated fat ratios with some monounsaturated fats.  Remember, organic is better as toxins are stored in fat so you want the highest quality fat you can get.

 

Examples:

Butter

Coconut Oil

Palm Oil

Lard (pig)

Tallow (beef)

Schmaltz (chicken, in moderation)

Duck Fat

Olive Oil (cold pressed)

 

In general, avoid any processed fats.  Limit consumption of any polyunsaturated fats.

  

Examples:

Margarine & Spreads

Canola Oil

Soy Oil

Corn Oil

Cottonseed Oil

Vegetable Oil

Hydrogenated Oils

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Flaxseed Oil (ok at ½ teaspoon daily)

 

Cooking Fats

 

Fat

 

SFA%

 

MUFA%

 

PUFA%

Smoke Point*

Unrefined/refined

Best for Higher Temperature Cooking
Butter 54 20 2.6 280-375F
Cocoa Butter 60 35 5 200-280F
 

Coconut Oil

 

86

 

7

 

2

300-350F

/

375-450F

Duck Fat 37 50 13 325-375F
Ghee 62 29 4 380-500F
Lard/Bacon Fat (pork) 39 45 11 340-390F
Palm Oilǂ 45 42 8 400-450F
Tallow (beef) 55 34 3 350-400F
Okay for Very Low-Heat Cooking (best for finishing a recipe)
Avocado Oil 20 70 10 500-520F
Macadamia Nut Oil 16 80 4 375-410F
Olive Oil 14 73 11 360-390F
 

Peanut Oil**

 

17

 

46

 

32

300-350F

/

400-500F

Rice Bran Oil** 25 38 37 350-415F
Not Recommended for Cooking (most should be avoided totally)
Canola Oil** 8 64 28 440-500F
Corn Oil (GMO) 15 30 55 400-445F
Grapeseed Oil 12 17 71 450-510F
 

Safflower Oil**

 

8

 

76

 

13

175-225F

/

475-510F

Sesame Seed Oil (ok finishing oil) 14 40 46 375-450F
Soy Oil (GMO) 16 23 58 425-495F
 

Sunflower Oil**

 

8

 

76

 

13

175-225F

/

400-440F

Vegetable Shortening** 34 11 52 325-360F
Walnut Oil (ok finishing oil) 14 19 67 350-400F

Some fats should not be heated as doing so causes the fatty acids to become rancid and break down easily into toxic subcomponents.   *Ranges can vary based on innumerable of factors.   ǂChoose environmentally conscious sources.   **Though these seem like good choices, the way they are processed makes them toxic before even cooking.  These should be avoided.   SFA = Saturated Fatty Acids; MUFA=Monounsaturated Fatty Acids; PUFA=Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

 

As always, let me know if you have questions.  Love, light, and happiness to all!

Marie

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