It’s no secret that fats can kill you and most of us eat them every day. The good news is not all fats are evil. While it is true that fats are negatively associated with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer, please understand that not all fats are created equally. In short, diets high in saturated fats have been linked to many chronic dis-eases, and diets low in saturated fats but high in essential fatty acids prevent these very same conditions.
The Low Down On Good Fats
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary for normal cell structure and body function. The omega-6 linoleic fatty acid and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic fatty acid are known as “essential” because we must obtain them from food, and from these the body should be able to make up the other polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) needed to lower any inflammation in the body, and reduce the risk of heart attacks. Fat is also required to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.
When Good Fats Go Bad
When seeds and nuts are processed into refined oils, margarines and shortenings that we purchase at the supermarket, every single essential nutrient has been removed or destroyed during the process. Hydrogenated fats go through a process in which hydrogen is added to liquid oils at high heat to make them solid at room temperature. Not only is this cheap to produce and highly profitable for food manufacturers, but fat molecules are also altered into disease-causing molecules in the process, thereby rendering it unusable in the body, and ultimately toxic.
Other fats to avoid or reduce are saturated fats from animals (red meat, pork, lamb), and dairy products. These fats are associated with raising LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.
Unfortunately, low-fat diets do not protect you from disease. Studies have found that people on a Mediterranean diet of 50 percent fat, have very low rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes when compared to people on the Standard American Diet (SAD) of 40 percent fat. Why? The former were consuming fat in the form of cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil, and that is the reason. Sadly, the SAD diet offers no protection when it comes to disease due to its abundant lack in essential fatty acids. So if you’re on a low-fat diet for health reasons, do consider the type and structure of the fats consumed.
Eliminating Killer Fats
- Stay away from refined, processed fats, the ones found in clear plastic bottles at the supermarket.
- If it says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, put it back on the shelf – commonly found in margarine, shortening, cookies, pastries, and snack foods (just about anything actually).
- “Cholesterol-free, no fat, fake fat and light” are marketing tools used by major food manufacturers to encourage sales – don’t buy into the hype.
- Trans fats increase the risk of heart disease by raising LDL (bad cholesterol), and is formed through the process of hydrogenation which extends the shelf-life of a product – not something you want in your body.
- Regardless of any added ingredients or health benefits claimed on the package, remember that products containing trans fat cannot be health promoting, and are proven to cause cancer, obesity and heart disease.
- Stop buying or significantly reduce your intake of red meats and processed meats, especially hot dogs. Instead, reach for fatty cold water fish, and lean poultry.
Incorporating Healing Fats
- Use extra-virgin olive oil but make sure you purchase them in light protective packaging (dark bottles), cold pressed and preferably organic. Since this oil is not heat-stable, I recommend it only for non-cooked dishes like salads and dips. If the oil is clear and colorless, it’s been refined so don’t buy it.
- For everyday cooking, the heat-stable coconut oil is my number one choice mainly because the “coconutty” aroma which I find so irresistible, make my knees go weak! I know, it’s a saturated fat but that’s a whole other blog. But if you’re not into coconuts, grape seed oil is also great for cooking.
- Look for unrefined organic seed oils in the refrigerator section of your health food store.
- Protective fats (EFAs) are also found in seeds and nuts and their unrefined cold-pressed oils, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardine), avocados, whole grains, dark green vegetables and olives.
- Flaxseed is rich in essential fatty acids and contains a high amount of lignans. This phytonutrient have been proven to possess anticancer, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Adding at least one tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your diet may boost immunity and aid in digestive disorders.
| Better Butter Recipe
1 lb butter