I often hear people say, “I only used 1tbsp oil in this dish that fed 6 people”, and they take great pride in their achievement of making a low-fat dish cooked with the likes of Canola oil!
The discussion around Fats can become controversial so I am going to keep this post simple by not getting into the science of fats or the fat brainwashing led by some industrial giants.
Here is my take on fats…
Our ancestors ate a lot of fat, especially saturated fat, they generously cooked in ghee, added butter to dishes, enjoyed high fat nuts, seeds, wild fish and fatty meats. They ate home cooked meals, were healthy and active, they did not have cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, inflammatory issues, diabetes, obesity etc. They usually died of injury or infection.
Fast forward 2018 and the story is very different. We have been told to eat low fat and especially avoid saturated fats. We have all the health conditions mentioned above with some of them rising exponentially, plus we have the dreaded ‘C’ in many varieties and then we have a concerning rise in mental health issues!
Is the lack of good quality fat consumption a reason for this state of current affairs? It most definitely is ONE of the reasons for our concerning state of health.
Let me start by answering the question Why we need fat?
- Essential vitamins like A, D, E and K which are fat soluble are required by every cell in the body, hair, skin and for energy! If there is not enough fat how will these vitamins get absorbed?
- High quality fats are satiating and can keep you full longer as they digest slowly so very good for controlling appetite and weight gain. The ‘Keto’ and ‘Low carb High fat’ diets are examples of this theory and are showing excellent results.
- Good fats can protect against chronic disease and improve heart health. Dr. Aseem Malhotra a leading UK based cardiologist says, “saturated fat has been “demonised” and any link with heart disease is not fully supported by scientific evidence. The food industry has compensated for lowering saturated fat levels in food by replacing it with sugar, he says, which also contributes to heart disease.”
- Good fats decrease inflammation and reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions.
- One of the most important benefits of good fats for me is the role it plays in brain function! It increases cognitive function, decreases inflammation, promotes good blood flow, all of which we need and maybe one of the reasons for increased mental health problems in a society that is focussed on low fat! In the words of a leading Functional Medical Practitioner, Dr. Mark Hyman- “Our brains are nearly 60 percent fat, so it should be no surprise that not getting sufficient dietary fat can adversely impact this organ. Chief among those fatty acids for your brain are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fatty acids are critical for supporting brain function and mood”.
As you may have noticed I am frequently referring to good fats, so you may be wondering are there bad fats also? The answer is YES absolutely and because they are abundant and used more frequently, we are where we are with our health! I will come back to bad fats but first let me share the good fats.
The fats that are excellent for health and considered ‘good quality’ fats are:
- Grass fed butter
- Organic ghee
- Virgin coconut oil (no it does not clog arteries, it is a fast burning fat, so it gets used up for energy)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Wild fatty fish e.g. Salmon
- Grass fed/ pasture raised/ free range meats
- Organic free-range eggs
- Avocados/ Avocado oil
Now to the fats that are compromising our health and increasing inflammation in our body, the fats to steer away from:
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Cotton seed oil
- Corn Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Vegetable Oil (what in the world is that? Which vegetable releases oil?)
- Fake butters
These oils are excessively refined, processed, deodorized, bleached and rancid by the time they enter the consumer’s kitchen. The seeds are genetically engineered, heavily sprayed with pesticides, often hydrogenated and because of their overuse there was an increase in the amount of inflammation people had in their bodies (increased fat oxidation) and that resulted in substantial increase in health conditions, welcome high cholesterol and cardiovascular conditions.
This is the fat used by packaged food companies, restaurants, fast food chains etc. so if this is also the fat used in our homes our consumption is very high resulting in higher chances of health issues.
There are a lot of theories, campaigns, statistics and general propaganda out there, my suggestion is do your research with an open mind. Pay attention to what the leading natural health practitioners are eating, which fats did your 90-year-old mother eat, what fats are the people living in the Blue Zones (longest living healthy communities) eating? I think you will find a few common threads ?
“The best diet for overall health, and specifically for heart, brain, and cancer risk reduction, is a diet that’s aggressively low in carbohydrates with an abundance of healthful fat” David Perlmutter, leading Neurologist https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/david_perlmutter_614377