Eating fat does NOT make you fat. Our bodies actually crave fat and need it in order to function properly. Let’s take a quick look at the REAL Top 5 Healthy Fats in the Kitchen.
Are you afraid of fat? You are not alone. Fat has been vilified in American culture for the past few decades as we have been told that if we just stop eating fat we will be healthy, thin, and happy – as can be seen by the low fat/ no fat craze that swept through our country. This is one of the biggest nutrition lies that has been told in history.
There’s so much misinformation about the types of fats we should be consuming and in what amounts. It really is hard to know what to believe.
But as more research comes out and more people realize that we actually need healthy fats in our diet to thrive, the tide is changing.
Did you know that in other parts of the world, people are not afraid of fat like we are here in the United States?
This goes against everything we are taught about nutrition, I know. But obviously the nutritional advice we have been given is not working.
Diabetes is at an all time high, obesity is a national health crisis, and chronic diseases are rampant.
The important thing to remember is that not all fats are created equal. Good fats can actually lower cholesterol levels, help you absorb more fat soluble vitamins from your food, boost brain function and help you feel more full while unhealthy fats can contribute to chronic disease, inflammations, and weight gain.
How to Choose Healthy Fats for Cooking:
❤️avoid highly-processed refined vegetable oils which are often processed using harmful chemicals and damaging processes. Chemicals are also used to improve the color and to mask the smell from the chemical processing. Canola oil is a prime example of this horrible process. Other refined oils include safflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, grape seed oil, and sunflower oil.
❤️choose plant-based fats and oils that are unprocessed and organic.
❤️reduce the consumption of fats/oil that are high in polyunsaturated fat (PUFA’s) as these types of fats contain double bonds, making them more prone to oxidation and rancidity. Rancid fats and oils are extremely unhealthy for the human body.
❤️choose fats that have a higher percentage of saturated fatty acids as single bond saturated fats are more stable and more resistant to rancidity than unsaturated fats because of their chemical structure.
❤️medium-chain fatty acids (like coconut oil) are easily digested and absorbed and are nourishing to the body. Some of the health benefits of coconut oil include: protects against heart disease, decreases inflammation, immune boosting, antiviral properties, and a main source of lauric acid- an essential fat that is a critical component of breast milk.
❤️choose animal fats that are grass fed and pastured. Animals that eat what they are supposed to eat and that live in their natural environments are far more nutritious. Grass-fed beef contains between 2 and 5 times more omega-3s than grain-fed beef, and the ratio of omega6 fatty acids to omega3 acids in grain-fed beef is much higher. Research also shows that grass fed beef contains considerably more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals than grain-fed beef. (source)
Top 5 Healthy Fats in the Kitchen
#1 Traditional Animal Fats
I’m talking about beef tallow, duck fat, pork lard, and bison fat. These fats have nourished and fed people for thousands of years. With the introduction of highly processed fats like margarine and vegetable oils, these health giving fats have been pushed into quiet corners.
Beef tallow is rendered fat from beef. Beef tallow has actually been shown to reduce the risk of metatastic breast cancer. Grassfed beef fat has a high concentration of “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA, which is good for cholesterol levels. It has a smoke point of about 400’F so is excellent for high heat cooking. Learn to render your own beef tallow HERE
Simply store these fats in the fridge and scoop out a bit when you need it. Animal fats can be used interchangeably for any meats or vegetables and all (except for bacon fat) impart a subtle flavor that will not overwhelm your recipe.
#2 Grass Fed Butter and Ghee
Alot of commercial butter is loaded with antibiotics and growth hormones. But butter made from the milk of grass fed cows is a superfood, loaded with healing properties.
Butter protects us against heart disease by giving us vitamin A, lecithin, and antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium, and cholesterol. Yes, cholesterol is actually an antioxidant. (source)
Butter also protects us from cancer with it’s short and medium chain fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. Vitamin A, vitamin E , selenium, and cholesterol also have anti-cancer properties. (source)
With it’s creamy, rich flavor, it is perfect for low to medium heat cooking and for baking. The smoke point of butter is about 265’F, making it unsuitable for high heat cooking.
A common brand seen is grocery stores in Kerrygold. You can also search out raw sources from local farmers who are raising happy cows.
If you do not tolerate dairy very well or if you want to do more high heat cooking, check out ghee made from grass fed cows. Ghee is clarified butter, made by heating butter to remove the water and milk solids leaving the butter fat. What you are left with is an easily digestible oil that is rich with flavor. It has its origins in India and to this day is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine because of its healing properties. Many folks who do not tolerate butter dairy do well with ghee.
What’s nice about ghee is that it has a very high smoke point and is shelf stable. The smoke point is around 465’F. And you can leave ghee out on your counter without refrigeration for up to a month and up to 6 months in the fridge. This is due to the lack of moisture in the oil. Be sure to store your ghee in a sealed jar, away from heat and liquids.
Ghee is my favorite fat for baking, as well as sauteing. You can read more about it in my post 7 Reasons to Start Cooking with Ghee.
#3 Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a delicious, shelf-stable tropical oil that is loaded with saturated fatty acids. It is actually about 92% saturated fat, which is why it is solid at room temperature. Being heat stable, it is excellent for sauteing and stir frying. It is also great in baking and can be used in place of butter in most recipes.
Besides being a great cooking fat, coconut oil has been shown to increase metabolism, contains anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, and decreases inflammation.
#4 Olive Oil
Olive oil is the healthiest plant based oil. It contains mostly mono-unsaturated fatty acids, making a safe oil to consume. Good quality extra virgin olive oil has been shown to have protective properties for the heart, to lower inflammatory markers in the blood, to improve cognitive function, and to reduce risks of certain cancers. (source)
The one things I do say about olive oil is DON’T COOK WITH IT. It has a low smoke point and heat destroys the healing properties of olive oil. You can read more in my post 5 Reasons to Stop Cooking with Olive Oil.
Save your good quality, organic, extra virgin olive oil for dressings and cold applications. Be sure to store is a dark bottle in a cool place to reduce oxidization.
Did you know that olive oil is the most adulterated agricultural product coming out of Europe? And according to a University of California at Davis study, more than two-thirds of common brands of extra-virgin olive oil found in California grocery stores aren’t what they claim to be.
My favorite brand by far is Kasandrinos Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I have done a ton of research, and it is the only brand of olive oil that I buy. It is a small, family-owned business with high quality olive oil. Never adulterated. Always organic. Be sure to check out Kasandrinos HERE.
#5 Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is produced from the fruit of the avocado tree. Studies indicate that it prevents diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, and obesity. It has a mild flavor and a high smoking point, making it a perfect fat for cooking. It also works well for cold foods like salads, dips, and mayonnaise. THIS is my favorite brand.
Still confused about all of the conflicting information about fat, cholesterol, and heart disease out there?
Check out EAT THE YOLKS by Liz Wolfe. Best book on modern nutrition that I have read. Super funny. Eye-opening. And sets you straight on why we should be looking to foods and fats that have been around for a long time to nourish and feed our families. She goes into detail debunking the nutrition myths and propaganda that makes your head spin when trying to figure out what to eat and not to eat.
Click HERE to PIN THIS!
What are you favorite fats in the kitchen? And how do you use them? Leave a comment below.
photo credit: depositphoto @ eelnosiva
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