Before we dive into the benefits of healthy fats, let’s debunk a few myths about fat!
3 Fat Myths
1. Fats are a dense source of calories. Reduce fat to reduce calories!
Yes, indeed, fats are a dense source of calories – 9 calories per gram, in fact! Carbohydrates and proteins are only 4 calories per gram. It’s simple math, right? Fat contain twice as many calories per gram, when compared to carbohydrate and protein.
However, fat doesn’t spike blood sugar and insulin in the way that refined carbohydrates do.
And, I mean, who has just one donut, right?!
2. Saturated fat and cholesterol are going to give you heart disease.
What’s causing elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides? In short, inflammation.
That bad cholesterol -- LDL -- gets a bad reputation. But, LDL is our repair guy. It’s repairing the damaged caused by inflammation and patching up lesions on arterial walls. LDL is a signal to the body that there’s inflammation.
Inflammatory foods = processed vegetable oils, trans fats, margarine and refined foods.
3. Fats are empty calories.
Fats contain fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2, along with antioxidants and more! That doesn’t sound empty, at all. Plus, fat also keeps us full and satisfied!
So, why exactly are fats fabulous?
- Fat keeps us full and satiated.
- Every cell in our body needs fat and cholesterol! Fats make up the cell membrane -- the outer part of the cell that allows nutrients and waste into and out of the cell.
- Fat help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and include nutrients like CLA and cholesterol!
Let's talk bonds
All fats and oils are comprised of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids of various proportions.
Fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms with attached hydrogen atoms.
Saturated fats can withstand higher cooking temperatures. The chain of carbon atoms are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms.
Monounsaturated fats are less stable than saturated fats. The chain of carbon atoms has 1 (mono-) double bond -- which leads to a less stable bond in the presence of heat, air and light.
Polyunsaturated fats are the least stable fat. More than 1 (poly-) bond is a double bond, and is more prone to damage from heat, air and light.
3 Favorite High-Heat Cooking Fats
Fats with a greater proportion of saturated fats are perfect for higher temperature cooking. Saturated fats (think fats that are solid or semi-solid at room temperature) have a more stable bond and can withstand higher cooking temperatures.
1. Grass-fed butter/ghee
Butter/ghee is rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2. Butter is particularly rich in the most usable form of Vitamin A, retinol – great for skin, reproductive and immune health.
Shopping : When shopping for butter or ghee, look for the grass-fed variety, like Kerrygold Butter. When compared to grain-fed cows, grass-fed dairy is higher in Vitamin K2 (great for heart health and to keep calcium out of your arteries) and Omega-3’s (great for reducing inflammation). Sensitive to the milk protein casein or whey? Try ghee!
2. Organic, unrefined coconut oil
Coconut oil is roughly 2/3 medium chain triglycerides (AKA MCTS). MCTS are easy to digest and provide sustainable energy production.
Shopping :When shopping for coconut oil, look for “organic, unrefined”. A refined variety refers to coconut oil that has been bleached and deodorized. High heat is used to deodorize the coconut oil to remove the distinctive odor and flavor.
3. Grass-fed or pasture-raised animal fats
Shopping : When shopping for animal fats, be sure they’re from grass-fed cows, pasture-raised pigs and ducks. Healthy animals have healthy fats!
3 Favorite Low-Heat Oils
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are more fragile, and are more prone to oxidation, or becoming rancid.
When exposed to light, heat and air, these fragile fats can be damaged or go rancid. How would you know if your oil is rancid? Give it the sniff test. Does the oil smell musty or sour? You may have a rancid oil. Toss it!
Polyunsaturated fats can be easily damaged – like, vegetable, nut and seed oils. So, I recommend steering clear of those.
Monounsaturated fats (think fats that are liquid at room temperature) are more stable, compared to polyunsaturated fats. I recommend monounsaturated fats be used at medium/low-temperature heating or as a dressing fat.
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a mostly monounsaturated oil, and includes Vitamin E, K and the antioxidant called polyphenols.
Shopping :When shopping for olive oil, choose an extra-virgin grade. Extra-virgin is not heated, chemically refined or processed in the way that other grades of olive oil are produced.
2. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is a mild-tasting oil and great for making homemade mayo, too!
Shopping : When shopping for avocado oil, choose an unrefined, cold-pressed, organic variety.
3. Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil is a light and buttery tasting oil. Like olive oil and avocado oil, it’s largely monounsaturated and fairly stable.
Shopping :When shopping for macadamia nut oil, choose a cold-pressed variety!
Healthy fats are our friend! Be sure to include a dose of fat into each of your meals to keep you full, satisfied and healthy!