Don’t fear fat! Fat has gotten a bad reputation over the last several decades, and the presence of quality fats in our diets has dramatically diminished. Low fat diets and low fat foods became popular in the 1980’s as fat was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Recommendations to limit or avoid fat were given with zero regard to the type of fats that are harmful or that increase risk. In an essence, we threw “the baby out with the bath water” and really haven’t looked back. Look around in your grocery store, low fat and fat free products are often easier to find now than their full fat counterparts. Our choices for most processed foods are either void of fat (and overloaded with sugars or artificial sugars instead) and/or the fats have been replaced with a lower quality, more shelf stable fats. Recently I had to go to two grocery stores just to find full fat Fage yogurt as the only choice on the shelf was fat free or 2% with honey added!
Research suggests that an increase incidence in chronic disease maybe associated with a lack of quality fats in the diet amongst other nutrition deficiencies. As an example, researchers are looking to a link between the increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (also known as Type III diabetes) and the inclusion of low fat/high carb diets. The truth is low fat and fat free diets are depriving us of key macro and micronutrients that are vital to our health. Fat has many integral functions within the body. It provides insulation, satiety, energy, nutrient absorption (specifically fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K), hormone production, good cholesterol production (HDL), neurological functions, and brain health to name a few!
Despite fat being beneficial, there are still good and bad fats. Trans fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils) should be feared and avoided always as they increase cardiovascular, diabetes and cancer risk. Additional fats I recommend avoiding or limiting may surprise some reading this post. As shown in the picture above, I recommend using caution and limiting the use of many traditional oils found in packaged processed foods or recommended in “healthy” recipes as these fats are often genetically modified, void of nutrients, laced with pesticides and herbicides and known to cause inflammation. These fats will not help to increase your good, cardiovascular protective cholesterol (HDL) and will likely cause inflammatory markers in the blood to increase. Most of these fats are rich in Omega 6 fatty acids which are inflammatory and void of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids that are anti inflammatory.
Go back to basics when choosing fats for cooking and flavoring foods. Ask yourself, would my grandparents recognize this fat or better yet, does my body recognize this fat? Choose REAL foods and avoid fats created in a laboratory or laced with chemicals for processing. Don’t limit fat to a quick spray of Pam to the pan. Remember our bodies need fat to function. I am not suggesting you deep fry foods or have no regard for portion sizes, yet we need to stop fearing fat and start to have a better balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) in our diet. Most Americans lack this balance and eat a diet very rich in carbohydrates and void of healthy fats.
As for cooking oils and fats, I recommend the following for my clients:
Choose: Organic Butter, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Grape seed Oil, Nut and Seed Oils, Ghee
Avoid: Margarine, Canola Oils, Vegetable Oils, Soybean Oils, Corn Oils, Pam/Cooking sprays
The information provided in this post is for education only and is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor should it be used as a replacement for seeking medical treatment.
Copyright © Jaime Coffey Martinez, Nutrition CPR, LLC