How Do I Know What Fats Are Good To Eat?
Listening to the news and social media, there are some things that I learned growing up that were not true about fats. I assumed that all fats were bad and should be eliminated from the diet. I thought all the low fat and no fat foods were healthy and good for me, I was wrong. Come to find out that there are a lot of good ones! And our bodies need to eat those good fats to function properly. Campbell-McBride said in her book that our brains are 60% fat (dry weight). This means that to maintain the health of our brain, we must eat the proper fats in our daily diets to keep our brain at optimal working levels! Now, let’s take a look at the good and bad fats.
Processed fats are the fats that are used when making processed foods, slices of bread, crackers, and other snacks that come in packaging or a box. Processed fats come in the form of vegetable oils, cooking, oils, margarines, butter replacements (fake butter), spreadable butter, hydrogenated oils, shortenings, and any other artificial fats. (Campbell-McBride, 2010) These fats are used because they are cheap to make, which makes high profits for those to sell them. These oils consist of unstable unsaturated fatty acids, these fats are easily damaged by “heat, oxygen, pressure and light” (Campbell-McBride, 2010, pg. 255). Since these oils are used for cooking, frying, deep frying, and more, it is safe to say that the oils are damaged each time they are used and then consumed!
The process of storing these oils is also harmful to our bodies. To make sure these oils have a long shelf life, they are hydrogenized at high temperatures. Along with hydrogen, these oils are also exposed to other chemicals such as nickel and aluminum. These metals enter our bodies and provide toxicity. They are also hard for our bodies to get rid of.
All natural fats that are processed have been damaged. One of those fats is called trans fatty acids. Trans fats start out as unsaturated fats before they have been processed. Unsaturated fats are good for our bodies, but when they get processed the chemical structure changes. It goes from a single bond to a double, which is harder for our bodies to work with. The trans fats act as one of the good fats and take their place in the body, but does not allow the cells in the body to function properly like the good fats do. When the cells do not work the way they are supposed to the body’s immune system starts to slow down. It is safe to say that these fats should be avoided.
What fats are good to eat? Well, we can start with animal fats like the fats that are on fresh meats. I used to always cut off all of the fat on my steak, not knowing that a lot of it was good for me. The last two years I have started to eat some of the fats on my steaks that they taste amazing! Just make sure it is the fat on the meat that chews nicely if it doesn’t chew nicely then don’t waste your time on it. Fats rendered from meats are also good as well. Then we look at the fats that come from dairy products such as butter, ghee, and cream. Those fats made from raw cows or goats milk are good for you along with the fats in egg yolks. The fats from animals are mostly saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
According to Campbell-Mcbride (2010), a woman’s breastmilk contains “48% saturated, 33% monounsaturated and 16% polyunsaturated” fats. If mother’s produce these fats in breastmilk for their babies, then it must mean that our bodies need those fats to grow and develop long after consuming breastmilk. Animal fats are a great way to get those fats in about the same percentages, which is what our bodies need.
If you notice, the polyunsaturated fats percentage is quite lower than the other two. This should be an indicator that our bodies need that fat, but we should not consume more of that fat than saturated and monounsaturated fats. When found in its natural state, polyunsaturated fats are good for your body. They can be found in seeds and nuts. The problem occurs when the fat is taken out of its natural state and used in cooking oils. When consumed in the cooking oils, our bodies are taking in way to much of the polyunsaturated fats and there is an imbalance.
Essential Fatty Acids
There is another group of fats that our bodies cannot live without, essential fatty acids. The two essential fatty acids are the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In the Western diet, the omega-6 fatty acid is regularly found, but its partner omega-3 is lacking. These two fatty acids need to work together in the right ratio to benefit our bodies. Too much of one can throw off the balance. The best way to get these fatty acids are from freshwater fish: “salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and eel” (Campbell-McBride, 2010, pg. 267). Sardines can be found in a can at the local grocery store, just make sure to buy the fresh caught, boneless/skinless, in olive oil sardines. They can be bought with skin and bones, but the taste is something I cannot handle. If you are not able to eat any of these fish at least once each week, then there is another way to get your fatty acids.
Cod Liver Oil
Have you heard of cod liver oil? It is a great way to get a good ratio of your omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. It has been the supplement that helps to get these fatty acids for a long time. All cells in our bodies depend on us having the correct ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Cod liver oils also contain vitamin A, D, and cholesterol. Fish oil contains the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but not the other essential vitamins. Cod liver oil should be taken with the fish oil to cover the vitamin A, D, and cholesterol. Taking cod liver oil and fish oil is a good way to daily consume the fatty acids if you are not able to eat the fresh fish at least once a week. These oils should be kept in a cold dark place, the fridge is a good spot for it.
Olive oil is a good oil that has many health benefits. I had always known that olive oil was the healthier oil, better than the vegetable oils. However, I was missing some information. Olive oil only stays an unsaturated fatty acid while it is in its most natural state, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. When this oil is heated, then the structure of the olive oil is changed to trans fats and then it becomes harmful for our bodies. I was depressed to learn this news because I had fried food with olive oil for a long time thinking I was cooking healthier. I was wrong. Olive oil should be used cold, such as on a salad or to make homemade mayonnaise. It can also be heated up to 400 degrees without changing structure, so use it for baking at lower temperatures. Just don’t fry foods with it.
Since I used to cook with olive oil all the time, I needed to find something I could cook with. There are some oils that can be used for cooking food and those are the stable fats. Stable fats can be heated and not change their structure. Which fats are stable? The stable fats consist of “ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, goos and duck fat, pork dripping, lamb fat and lard” (Campbell-McBride, 2010, pg. 273-274).
Ghee is also known as clarified butter. It is made by cooking all the milk components out of butter. Since the milk parts of the butter are gone and the ghee is left, the ghee can be heated at higher temperatures than butter and better for frying foods.
Coconut oil is only good in its most natural state. Try to get “organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil; this is your highest quality” (Broer, 2017, pg. 5). All other coconut oils have gone through a processing that has increased the shelf life but added chemicals to the oil that is harmful to our bodies. When looking for a good coconut oil, try to find something doesn’t have any additives. Coconut oil can be cooked to temperatures up to 350 degrees. This makes it an easy replacement for other cooking oils such as butter, shortening, olive oil, and other oils you may have used.
Using a high quality avocado oil can be good as well. It can be used at high temperatures, so it is good for frying foods. It contains the monosaturated omega-9 fatty acid that has many health benefits. It does have a high omega-6 to omega-3 ration (13:1), so it should be used in moderation. Just be sure to have a good variety of fats in your diet and you should be good to go!
I hope this post was helpful for you to find more food fats to cook with! If it was helpful please share it on your favorite social media platform.
Broer, S (2017). Eat Clean and Be Healthy. Using super foods and simple meals to achieve vibrant health and maximum energy. Clean eating made easy. Over 150 recipes. B&A Publications.
Campbell-McBride, N (2010). Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Natural Treatment For Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia. A.D.D., A.D.H.D, Depression, and Schizophrenia. Revised and Expanded Edition. United Kingdom: Parent and Designs Act 1988