What kind of fat?

In my last post, I discussed why it’s important to eat fat. Today I want you to explain that it’s important to eat the right kinds of fat. Here are a few rules that will help you to determine what those are and why you should be careful about the fats you choose to eat.

1- Keep them clean – Fats tend to collect and hold on to toxins. There’s a strong correlation between toxicity and obesity. This would be one way that toxin-filled fatty foods really are contributing to the obesity epidemic. So, fats DO make you fat… if they’re toxic. Whenever you can, it makes sense to make your fatty foods organic – especially those from animals like milk and cheese.

2- Keep them fresh, not rancid – Heat, light and air destroy oils and make them go bad. When oils are rancid, they’re damaging instead of healthful. The more liquid the oil is, the more easily it gets damaged. So, if you’re cooking at higher temperatures, use the more solid oils like coconut. A good rule to follow is if it smokes while cooking, it’s no longer good.

3- Keep them minimally processed – this is probably the trickiest one to figure out, but if you think of it this way it might help: Any oil that you could produce in your own kitchen with minimal equipment is probably not over processed (and therefore damaged). Can you squeeze olive oil from olives in your kitchen? Yes. Can you get coconut oil from a coconut in your kitchen? Also yes (well, at least I know some people who can make it, and it doesn’t require major equipment). Butter? Sure. Canola oil? Nope. Canola oil comes from small hard seeds that require high pressure, heat and typically chemicals for extraction. Damaged before it ever gets into the (plastic) bottle .

4-Keep them real – “Fake” fats like olestra and especially trans fats* do nothing but wreak havoc in our bodies by blocking critical processes and taking up space where real fats should be doing good work. It takes 6 weeks to clear trans fats out of your body. Is 6 weeks of diminished health really worth that donut?

I have found that butter, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil work real well for most of my cooking needs. Some other good sources of fats are nuts and seeds (along with nut and seed oils), avocados, eggs and oily fish (and by that I do not mean deep-fried Friday fish-fry bluegill!).

*Trans fats are created by the process of hydrogenation which turns liquid oils solid. In that process the fat structure is changed so that it no longer functions like a proper fat in the body. Always read labels, if the word “hydrogenated” is in the ingredient list, that food should be avoided.

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