When we learned that trans and saturated fats were bad for us, we all wanted foods that were lower in fats. It created a new food niche for manufacturers. They removed the fat and added in other stuff to make it taste good.
The problem with that is we don’t need all that added junk and some of it is actually making us fat or even worse sick.
I stopped buying anything low fat years ago. Fat is a good thing, at least when you are eating the right kinds.
I’ll say it again. FAT is good for us! Our body needs fat to be able to function. We use fat as a major source of energy. Our cell health is dependent on having fat. Many processes in our body require fat to perform.
But not all fats are created equal. We must eat the right fats for the benefits and eliminate bad fats to avoid the problems.
Trans fats are the really bad ones. They are created by a process called hydrogenation turning healthy fats into a solid state to prevent them from becoming rancid. There is no benefit to consuming a trans-fat.
Trans fats are linked to inflammation, increased LDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and reduces HDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). It contributes to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
It was initially banned by Denmark in 2003, limiting up to 2% of fats and oils destined for human consumption. Their restriction is on ingredients and not final products making their food supply healthier than most countries and it is thought to have had a direct impact to their 50% decrease in deaths from ischemic heart disease.
The US did not enact a ban on Trans fats until 2015. The legislation gave food manufacturers 3 years to find alternatives. They later extended it by another year making them completely banned after May 2019.
It is no wonder why the US is one of the sickest nations in the world. We allow food manufacturers to produce foods that are not the healthiest options for us.
Saturated fats are fats that are solid at room temperature. These types of fats should be consumed in limited amounts daily. According to the US dietary guidelines, you should consume 10% or less of your daily calories from saturated fats.
Foods high in saturated fats:
- Beef, pork, lamb, and skin of poultry
- High fat dairy, cream, ice cream, whole milk, 2% milk, cheese
- Butter, lard, bacon fat
- Palm or coconut oil
- Baked goods
What about Unsaturated fats? These are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Their sources are called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. These types of fats are considered essential fatty acids because we don’t have the ability to create them, so we need to get them from our diet.
Good sources of monounsaturated fats are:
- Olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
- High-oleic Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Most nuts
Polyunsaturated fats have two main types, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Science has determined that too much omega-6 in our diet creates inflammation. Studies have shown that we eat much more omega-6 fatty acids in our diet than omega-3. If you look at the label of most processed food in the store today, you will most likely find polyunsaturated fats in the form of omega 6 fatty acids.
Because our diet is loaded with omega 6, we need to balance it with more omega 3 fatty acids. Scientists believe that omega 6 fatty acids are inflammatory, and omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. We need some inflammation in our body but too much can lead to disease.
Before the industrialized food production age, we ate a more balanced diet of omega 6/omega 3 fatty acids 2:1 or 4:1. Now are our ratio is estimated at 16:1. Too much inflammation in our diet can create chronic illness.
Trying to navigate what is best for us can seem daunting. I do my best to eliminate all yellow oils. Chances are they are loaded with omega 6. I eliminate all processed foods from my diet and choose foods with limited ingredients whenever possible.
Good sources of polyunsaturated fats that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Fatty fish like salmon or sardines
- Chia seeds
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
It is healthier to replace saturated fats in our diet with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Try replacing butter with avocado oil. Eat more fish in your diet by replacing meat in your meals a few times a week. Bake or broil more than frying. Choose your snacks wisely and read labels. If something has partially hydrogenated oil on the label, don’t buy it! That is code for trans-fat.
Eliminate as much processed foods from your diet as possible. We are eating most of our fat content in the processed foods. Don’t fall for the “Healthy Snacks” that are labeled low fat. They are usually loaded with sugar and other chemicals to replace the fat that was taken out.
Eat more whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds daily and you will naturally be eating foods your body needs.
My favorite fat right now is avocados. I use avocado oil to cook with instead of olive oil because it has a higher burn rate than olive oil. The taste is neutral and will work in all recipes. I eat avocado on the side of my eggs or on toast. It makes a great pudding too! I make a pudding with avocados, cherries, and vanilla powder. It is so good, filling, and the cherries make it a great dessert after dinner. Cherries are thought to promote a restful sleep.
What is your favorite FAT?