Fats always get a bad rap. Remember the low-fat, fat-free craze of the 90s? Seemed like every product on the shelves had little, if any, fat in it. There were SnackWells cookies, fat-free Fig Newtons, Lay’s WOW chips, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter margarine, and fat-free cheese. It took some time, but eventually people have begun to realize that it’s a fad that doesn’t work. In fact, people not only gained weight, but also consumed a ton of unhealthy chemicals including high fructose corn syrup. So, what’s the deal with fat? Can it be healthy for us? And if it is, how much and what kind is?
Fat is one of the key building blocks our body needs to sustain metabolic functions. These functions range from keeping our nerve safe to hormone production. Eliminating or significantly reducing fats presence in our body has a negative impact on our health as evidenced by the dual impact our society is experiencing with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, it has taken far to long to figure this out due to bribery and misleading studies instigated by a sugar-industry trade group (JAMA Internal Medicine, September 2016). If we add this to the fact that it takes a long time for the winds of change to take effect, then one can see the ramifications involved.
With the recent trends toward shopping local, holistic health care, and whole food consumption, the tides are turning. Yet people still question if fat is good. The short answer is that overall fat is indeed healthy for us. However, there are several variables to consider to help you make the best decision.
There are three types of fats:
All can be healthy, if care is given when choosing. Examples of saturated fats include coconut oil, butter, and the fat in red meat. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, avocados, and raw nuts. Polyunsaturated fats include flaxseed and walnut oils.
Not all fats are created equal, either, for example, Big Mac fat is not the same as that found in an avocado. One is natural, the other highly processed. So what can you look for when determining which route to go with your fat intake?
- Go with fats that boost omega-3s such as wild salmon, winter squash, leafy greens, and pecans.
- Avoid heavily processed oils like canola, corn, and soybean. These oils are high in the bad omega-6 fatty acids which cause inflammation to our body.
- Use oils that smell like where they are from. High quality olive oil should have a good flavor and smell.
- Purchase high-quality grassfed butter as this is considered good animal-based fat.
- Treat your fats like a buffet, opting for variety.
- Always opt for high-quality, organic fats.
- Avoid high-heat cooking.
Toss out your old fears and misconceptions about fats and learn the truth. Your body needs it to thrive.